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Thousands attend Beating Retreat at Attari border after air strike at Balakot terror camp

According to a BSF official, the visitors’ gallery on the Indian side at the Attari border, which can accommodate around 25,000 people at a time, was jam-packed on Tuesday. However, the gallery on Pakistan side that can accommodate around 5,000 peole was half occupied.

india Updated: Feb 27, 2019 09:48 IST
Anil Sharma
Anil Sharma
Hindustan Times, Attari (Amritsar)
attari border,beating retreat ceremony at attari,iaf air strike
Spectators wave Tricolour during Beating Retreat ceremony at Attari-Wagah border, near Amritsar, on Tuesday, February 26, 2019. (Sameer Sehgal / HT Photo )

Thousands of visitors turned up with much enthusiasm and zeal to witness the ‘Beating the Retreat’ ceremony at Attari border on Tuesday and waved the Tricolour to celebrate the early-morning airstrike on terror camps in Pakistan.

“We had expected that the footfall of tourists will dip as the tension between India and Pakistan has escalated, but it actually went up,” said a BSF official. The visitors’ gallery on the Indian side, which can accommodate around 25,000 people at a time, was jam-packed. However, the gallery on Pakistan side that can accommodate around 5,000 peole was half occupied.

“Pakistan had committed a blunder in Pulwama. We are very happy with the action of Indian Air Force,” said Raunak, who was at Attari to witness the retreat ceremony.

Amit Kumar from Delhi said, “We are very happy to have witnessed the ceremony the day India launched the air strike. Our forces should always retaliate against the terror activities by the neighbouring country.”

At Amritsar-Attari thoroughfare, the movement of army vehicles was observed on Tuesday.

Fear in border villages

However, people living in the villages near the India-Pakistan border in Amritsar have been living in panic since Tuesday morning.

“We appreciate the action of Indian Air Force against Pakistan. It was mandatory to give a befitting reply to Pakistan for the Pulwama terror attack. But, we are living in fear as we live about 500 metres from the zero line,” said former Sarpanch of Rodawala village, Dalwinder Singh.

Baldev Singh, a farmer of the same village, said, “During a similar situation in 2016, we were forced to evict our villages. ”

Bachhittar Singh of Dhanoa Khurd, another border village in Amritsar, said, “I own some land across the fencing. Today morning when I was on my way to cut fodder from my land, I was not allowed to go by the BSF. This will continue to be so till the situation becomes normal.”

Indians start returning from Pakistan

Indians who had gone to Pakistan have started returning in view of the tension between the two countries.

“I, along with my wife Varsha, my elder brother Sadhu Ram and his wife Khamaya Bai, had gone to Pakistan around a month ago to take part in a wedding in Balochistan. We had visa for three months, but cut short our stay due to the ongoing tension. We missed the wedding that is scheduled for March,” said Radhe Sham, who crossed over to India through the Integrated Check Post (ICP) at Attari on Tuesday.

He further said people in Pakistan were also living in fear. “No one in India and Pakistan wants war. The tension should be defused as early as possible,” said Radhe Sham’s wife Varsha.

Dharminder Singh, an auto-rickshaw driver at Attari, said, “We have noticed a spurt in the number of Indians coming back from Pakistan lately.”

Punjab police beef up security

Punjab Police have stepped up security on roads leading to the border with Pakistan. On Tuesday, a number of police teams were seen searching vehicles. A bullet-proof vehicle has also been deployed at the entry point of Attari town.

First Published: Feb 27, 2019 09:33 IST