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As India struggles against Pak in ‘war of flags’, questions over cost of nationalism

The Tricolour at the Attari-Wagah checkpost could not withstand high-velocity winds.

punjab Updated: Dec 04, 2017 12:24 IST
Surjit Singh
Surjit Singh
Hindustan Times, Amritsar
Attari-Wagah checkpost,Wagah border,Amritsar
The 360-ft pole meant for the Tricolour near the Attari-Wagah border.(HT Photo)

Even as a Pakistani flag hoisted at 400 feet across the border on the Attari-Wagah checkpost continues to flutter, the Indian Tricolour remains missing atop the 360 feet pole on this side since April.

While the Pakistani flag is made of stronger material, the Tricolour is made only of the khadi fabric as per norms.

It was initially hoisted in March, but was taken off in May and the district administration decided not to hoist it till a permanent solution to the problem was found.

It had to be replaced at least four times in April alone. This cost the government Rs 6 lakh. The project — a dream of Punjab’s then minister Anil Joshi of the BJP — had cost Rs 3.5 crore.

Then, ahead of Independence celebrations on both sides of the border in August , the flag was back, and taken down two days later due to the same reason.

At the time, India had managed to pip Pakistan which unveiled its taller flag to mark Independence Day too.

What now? Rajiv Sekhri, executive engineer of Amritsar Improvement Trust that is the custodian of the project, told HT, “So far the flag was made of khadi, which could not withstand high-velocity winds. In future, we will use fabric that is used to make parachutes, as rules have been amended for monumental flags.”

The trust is now hiring a contractor. “who will look after the flag for a year”, Sekhri added.

Visitors to the evening retreat ceremony show a desire to see the Indian flag at that monumental height too. “We had heard about the tallest Indian flag, but found nothing except a pole.

On the other side, the Pak flag was fluttering. Naturally, this hurts the patriotic sentiments of Indians,” said Tajinder Singh, a visitor.

Gurbhej Singh, an Amritsar-based social worker, added, “The flag is the honour of our country, and politicians should not have used it for political motives. Still, if they wanted to hoist such a flag, they should have addressed its technical aspects first.”

The 360-feet project was carried out despite the fact that a project of installing a flag at 170 feet in Ranjit Avenue in Amritsar on National Highway-1 leading to the border had proved a failure. The flag there too has had to be replaced 14 times.

“This is nothing but foolishness,” said Ramesh Yadav, an India-Pak peace activist and president of Folklore Research Academy.

“We should not indulge in such a practice which is nothing but blind nationalism. We already knew that Pakistan will compete with us in this. Instead of spending crores on this project, we should get high-standard schools established in the border area,” he added.

Sekhri, meanwhile, said, “ We are floating tenders to hire a company for maintenance. The flag will be hoisted again within the month of December.”

First Published: Dec 04, 2017 08:51 IST