As indian’s gathered on this side of the border for the retreat ceremony at the Attari-Wagah border panicked on hearing a loud explosion Sunday evening, the BSF personnel present there assured them saying it could be a tyre blast. Pakistani traders bringing in trade consignments used “Chinese tyres”, they explained to scared spectators.
A sports teacher, Lakshami Kant Bhandari was accompanying a group of students from a Mumbai school for the ceremony. She said they could not watch the ceremony as they were told the spectators’ gallery was full. “After the retreat ceremony was over, we were allowed to go near the gates as those who had witnessed the retreat ceremony were returning. As we were heading towards the gates, there was an explosion. The ground beneath our feet shook. We suspected it was an attack on the Pakistani side. A BSF official told us it was a tyre blast as trucks bringing consignments to India through the Attari Integrated Check Post used Chinese tyres. I was not convinced, however, as I had seen flames erupting on the Pakistani side. Then a woman BSF official told us to go back for safety.”
Sana, who is in Class IX of the school, said they had heard “as many as three blasts”.
The blast occurred at 6.12 pm. The retreat ceremony was over by about 5.30 pm.
The stadium at Attari border, from where visitors see the retreat ceremony, can house about 5,000 visitors, but most days it gets many more people.
BSF officials said they had already stepped up security measures after learning about heightened alert on Pakistani side following threats from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.