No decision yet on visitors at Attari-Wagah retreat ceremony - Hindustan Times
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No decision yet on visitors at Attari-Wagah retreat ceremony

ByAnil Sharma, Amritsar
Feb 20, 2021 07:27 PM IST

BSF resumes the Beating Retreat ceremony at India-Bangladesh border after more than 10 months on Friday

Even as there has been no decision on allowing spectators at Attari-Wagah border’s joint check post (JCP), the border security force (BSF) resumed the Beating Retreat ceremony at the India-Bangladesh border after more than 10 months on Friday.

Border Security Force (BSF) personnel performing during the retreat ceremony on the occasion of country's 74th Independence Day at the Attari-Wagah border near Amritsar. Sameer Sehgal/HT file)
Border Security Force (BSF) personnel performing during the retreat ceremony on the occasion of country's 74th Independence Day at the Attari-Wagah border near Amritsar. Sameer Sehgal/HT file)

The JCP, which comprises a gallery with a capacity to accommodate nearly 30,000 spectators to witness the flag lowering ceremony at the zero line of India and Pakistan border, was closed for the spectators in the first week of March 2020.

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“There has been no plan so far for allowing spectators at the retreat ceremony. Only 100 to 200 spectators witness the Beating Retreat ceremony on the India-Bangladesh border. However, the count of spectators at Attari touches up to 30,000. We will follow the ministry of home affairs and health department guidelines for allowing visitors,” said a senior BSF official.

Another official posted at the JCP said, “Due to the restrictions, only flag-lowering ceremony is being performed every evening. The daily military drill on our side is also not taking place.” Pakistan had re-opened its gallery for the spectators in October 2020, said the official posted at the JCP.

On the occasion of the Republic Day, a joint parade was held with the rangers at the border after around nine months. Students of various colleges had also organised a cultural programme at the JCP.

Traders, vendors waiting with bated breath

Due to the closure of the JCP, thousands of traders and small vendors have been hit hard and they demand early re-opening of the gallery.

Jagdish Singh (56), who runs a dhaba at the Attari border for the last one decade, has been struggling to make ends meet. He said his dhaba is closed since April 2020. “Five workers at my dhaba now pull rickshaw. Our business was totally dependent on Attari visitors,” he said.

Several restaurants, vendors selling patriotic accouterments near the border, hotel and taxi owners have also suffered a lot. Mandeep Singh, a cab driver in Amritsar, said, “More than 10,000 cab drivers have been hit and we are waiting for the spectators.”

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