Dismissing Pakistan’s allegations of “hidden cameras” for spying being mounted atop the 355-foot-high Tricolour at the Attari-Wagah border, India has said that only a beacon light had been installed on the flag pole as per laid down procedures. Pakistan Rangers had also raised objections on the BSF move to hoist the flag in less than 150 yards of the International Boundary (IB), violating international norms, which do not allow any construction activity within 150 yards on either side.
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The flag pole, according to Rangers, was put up within 150 yards. In their flag meeting with the BSF, the Rangers demanded that the flag be shifted and cautioned that they will also put up a flag of similar dimensions if the Indian flag was not removed.
A senior Home Ministry official said, “The flag has been hoisted on our land. In addition to the flag, there is a stadium constructed to witness the daily retreat ceremony and Integrated Check Post. Both are in existence on either side within the radius of 200 metre from the border.”
He added that flags of such dimensions are not lowered during anytime of the day unlike flags atop government buildings, which are lowered after the sunset.
Interestingly, the Punjab government had obtained special permission from the Election Commission to hoist the flag as elections were yet to conclude in the border state. The Tricolour, according to officials, is 120-foot long and 80-foot wide. The weight of the flag pole is 55 tonnes. The entire project cost the government Rs 3.5 crore. A Tricolour of 170-foot height is already in place in Amritsar.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Amritsar Mayor Bakshi Ram Arora said, “The project undertaken by the Amritsar Improvement Trust started in 2015 and it is the tallest Tricolour hoisted. The idea behind constructing such a gigantic flag was to instil feeling of patriotism among those who come to witness the ceremony and others who are deployed at the border.”
Both Home Ministry and BSF also clarified that the border Tricolour was not conceptualised by them and it is one of the many initiatives undertaken by the state government for the Wagah-Attari border.