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70th anniversary of Attari border: Brigadier who drew the line remembered at Partition museum

On October 11, 1947, two close friends on opposite sides of border demarcated the line for setting up Attari-Wagah check-post.

punjab Updated: Oct 12, 2017 09:51 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Amritsar
Attari border,70th anniversary,India-Pakistan border
Pushpinder Singh Chopra, son of Brigadier Mohindar Singh Chopra, and Partition Museum CEO Malika Ahluwalia next to photos of the brigadier and others related to the India-Pakistan border demarcation, in Amritsar on Wednesday.(HT Photo)

The Partition Museum, set up in the colonial-era building Town Hall, on Wednesday remembered Brigadier Mohindar Singh Chopra, who had drwan the border at the Attari-Wagah to set up an Indo-Pak check-post, two months after India’s Independence in 1947.

The museum hosted the fourth event of the Arts and Literature Festival of Amritsar (ALFA) on the theme ‘Borders: Drawing the Line.’ The event was held to mark the 70th anniversary of the day when the Attari-Wagah checkpost was created on October 11, 1947.

“My father called his counterpart in Lahore, who as fate would have it, turned out to be one of his old friends. The two of them had served together in the army before the Partition.”

A fascinating discussion with Pushpindar Singh Chopra revealed how his father, Brig Chopra, had been instumental in drawing the boundary between the two nations.

“When my father came to Amritsar in October 1947, he realised that though thousands of refugees were crossing the Grand Trunk (GT) Road every day, there was no exact border there as well as in many other parts of Punjab. My father then called his counterpart in Lahore, who as fate would have it, turned out to be one of his old friends. The two of them had served together in the army before the Partition”, said Pushpindar Chopra.

On 11 October 1947, the two friends used just a few whitewashed drums to mark the border, he added.

The Partition Museum CEO Mallika Ahluwalia said, “What is remarkable is that on that day a flagpost was set up — and if you look closely at photos today, you can still see the plaque that was put up 70 years ago with Brigadier Chopra’s name on it. What this tells me is that there is so much history in each of our families.”

“The Partition Museum aims to record and share those stories of all those impacted by Partition, so that others like Brig Chopra who did so much to help refugees and to calm the environment in Amritsar in the months around Partition can be recognised and remembered,” she said.

Brigadier Mohindar Singh Chopra’s photo displayed at Partition Museum, Amritsar.

The museum displayed rare photographs of 1947, which showed Brigadier Chopra at the newly created checkpost.

Bishwanath Ghosh, who recently travelled along the borders in Punjab, Bengal and the north-east for his book ‘Gazing at Neighbours: Travels Along the Line that Partitioned India’, said: “Travelling for this book was highly educating—I found that the Radcliffe Line is actually one of the most peaceful places on earth. You don’t find soldiers pointing guns at each other, but farmers going about their routines.”

First Published: Oct 12, 2017 09:48 IST