The beating the retreat ceremony, a coordinated drill of the Border Security Force and Pakistan Rangers, was held on Independence Day last year without any spectators. (PTI file photo)
The beating the retreat ceremony, a coordinated drill of the Border Security Force and Pakistan Rangers, was held on Independence Day last year without any spectators. (PTI file photo)

No spectators at Attari border on Republic Day amid Covid pandemic

BSF officials say decision on conducting coordinated parade with Pakistan at joint check post will be taken soon
By HT Correspondent
PUBLISHED ON JAN 18, 2021 04:26 PM IST

No spectators will be allowed on the Indian side of the Attari-Wagah joint checkpost on Republic Day in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A Border Security Force (BSF) official said though the public will not be allowed, a decision is yet to be taken on whether the coordinated parade with Pakistan will be held this time or not. The joint parade was held on Independence Day last year when the pandemic was at its peak.

Since the Covid-19 outbreak last March, only the flag-lowering ceremony is conducted at sunset on the Indian side of the border. India and Pakistan had suspended the entry of spectators in view of Covid-19 though the neighbouring country re-opened its border for spectators in October. Since then, Pakistan Rangers have been holding their daily military parade and ceremony.

“Due to the coronavirus pandemic, no spectator will be allowed to enter the joint check post (JCP) at Attari this Republic Day. But we have yet to decide our programme, including the parade ceremony, to celebrate the day on the border,” said a senior Punjab BSF official, requesting anonymity.

Another BSF official at the JCP said though the programme for Republic Day is yet to be received from the authorities, the parade is expected to be held. He said the celebration may be on the lines of the one held in August when the beating the retreat ceremony was held without spectators. The live musical band performance was also conducted on Independence Day.

The BSF and Pakistan Rangers have not been exchanging sweets on special occasions at the border since India abrogated Article 370, which granted special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019. The troops at Attari-Wagah border had last exchanged sweets on Eid-ul-Fitr and on Republic Day in 2019.

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