The tourist footfall at Border Out Post (BoP) along the International Border in Suchetgarh has been badly affected following the September 29 surgical strike at terror camps across the LoC. Touted to become one of the main tourist attractions in the Jammu region, the border outpost (BOP) on the IB has turned into a less tourist-friendly place with operational preparedness along the borders in Jammu and Kashmir, amid heightened tensions between India and Pakistan. The BOP, which was to be developed on the pattern of Wagah border in Punjab was a mission taken up by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti herself.
“Post the surgical strike on terrorist launch pads, there has been sharp decline in the number of tourists who come to visit the border outpost. Even those who come are not allowed to go near the border as we fear that Pakistan side might resort to some mischievous activity,” said a BSF official deployed at the Octerio BOP. The border tourism was launched this year on July 3 amid much fanfare as tourists made a beeline at Octeroi Border Outpost along the IB with Pakistan which has three-tier border fencing.
“Prior to the Uri terrorist attack on September 18, there was a huge rush of tourists who came to visit the border and have a firsthand feel of the life of BSF Jawans guarding the border, but the number dwindled post the Uri attack and since the surge in the hostilities post the surgical strikes, tourists have almost stopped coming here,” the official said. The border posts were opened for tourists from 8 AM to 6 PM daily.
“Yes that is true that there is sharp decline of number of people visiting the border areas. Certainly some people will choose to avoid the visit till they feel it is absolutely safe to go,” Deputy Commissioner (DC) Jammu, Simrandeep Singh told PTI.
“People living along the border belt of the R S Pura sector were also elated to know that the inflow of tourists to the belt would help improve their economy, but the recent escalation has shattered their dreams. We have seen the worst of times, when prior to the 2003 ceasefire between the two nations, we were not able to move out as mortars fired from across the border used to land on our houses. Things improved after 2003 but then, there were again sporadic incidents of ceasefire violations, but this time we fear for the worst,” Shaadi Lal, a local resident of Suchetgarh said.
Pakistani troops have violated ceasefire on Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir for 11,270 times since 2002, claiming the lives of 313 people including 144 security personnel, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had told the J&K Assembly recently.