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Monday, October 18, 2021

18 months on, BSF resumes public viewing of Attari-Wagah retreat event, 300 allowed

“BSF had contacted us orally regarding opening the retreat ceremony for public. We gave them the Punjab government’s Covid-19 restrictions’ list. There is general limit of 300 on the outdoor gatherings. It is good if BSF can maintain that limit,” said Khaira, adding that earlier state government had extended the restrictions in state till September 30.

Written by Kamaldeep Singh Brar | Chandigarh |
September 18, 2021 11:23:44 am
Sikh devotees leave for Pakistan via the Attari-Wagah border to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, on Tuesday. (PTI)

The BSF has resumed the public viewing of the daily flag lowering retreat ceremony at Attari-Wagah border in Punjab with limited restrictions, over a year and half after it was suspended due to the Covid outbreak, the force on Friday said.

BSF will allow 300 visitors in the spectators gallery for the over an hour-long daily event against its capacity to accommodate more than 25,000. The public viewing was suspended by India on March 7 to contain the coronavirus spread.

Meanwhile, Amritsar Deputy Commissioner Gurpreet Singh Khaira said that the ceremony has not been officially declared open.

“BSF had contacted us orally regarding opening the retreat ceremony for public. We gave them the Punjab government’s Covid-19 restrictions’ list. There is general limit of 300 on the outdoor gatherings. It is good if BSF can maintain that limit,” said Khaira, adding that earlier state government had extended the restrictions in state till September 30.

Sources in administration, however, fear that it will not be possible to restrict the tourist gathering at the Attari-Wagah border to 300.

“The BSF move won’t stop thousands of tourists from assembling there everyday in hope being one of the lucky 300 to get entry into gallery. Even if 300 are selected in advance through some system, it would be practically impossible to stop flow of visitors towards Attari. Already auto and taxi drivers have started taking tourists to Attari by making false promise,” an official said requesting anonymity.

India and Pakistan have been traditionally hosting the evening flag-lowering ceremonies at the Attari-Wagah border for many years now and the event is attended by a huge number of people from both countries as well as foreign nationals.

The BSF conducts the synchronised ceremony in coordination with their counterparts Pak Rangers and it involves lowering of the flags of the two countries along with foot stomping manoeuvres of the troops with patriotic songs playing in the background.

 

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