Wagah Border: Bridging gaps between India and Pakistan with cheer

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Wagah Border (Amritsar), May 28 : In August 1947, Sir Cyril Radclifferew a line demarcating the boundary that created the separated countries ofndia and Pakistan. Since then, the 'Radcliffe Line' has separated millionsf families and neighbours, unmindful of the fact of whether they wereindus or Muslims in what was once known as Hindustan.

The 1947 Partition saw the world's biggest exodus of people by road andrain. At that time, a board was hurriedly put up that announced that Wagahould be regarded as a joint outpost.

However, over six decades later, the demarcation at the Wagah border hasurned into an attraction and a place for many Indians and Pakistanis tonite, sans anger or hostility.

A road trade link comes alive every evening with a ceremony called "loweringf the flags".

"During the Partition, circumstances were appalling as the border (Wagahheck-post) witnessed people from both sides affected with the bloodshed.ow, things have changed and there is growing amity between the twoountries," said one resident.

"Wagah has become more overcrowded now. Shops have been established andesidents are having better facilities with improved transportation.arlier, people had to travel on foot. But, things have changed a lot," saidnother local resident.

For many people arriving at this popular Wagah border from any part ofndia, the visit is no less than a pilgrimage.

Developed as a road link between India and Pakistan, Wagah emerged as arading hub. After the April 2003 peace process, India and Pakistanonstituted a joint study group to explore better economic cooperation.

However, there have been demands that the border check post on the Indianide be rechristened as Atari because the Wagah is now in Pakistan.

A lot has changed in the last 60 years at the Wagah check-post.

"Now, so many quality restaurants have sprouted in Wagah. There are manyesorts that were not there earlier. Soon the road to Wagah will have fouranes. Rajasansi international airport helped handling the increased touristnflow at Wagah border. Initially, there were only 10-15 flights a week,hich have now extended to 100," said Virat Dutt Chaudhary, a customfficial at Wagah.

The check-post has now become a celebrity post for both the nations. Everyvening, an impressive Retreat Ceremony is held at the Sunset that marks thelosure of gates at the International border.

There's an air of excitement, as soldiers from both the sides march inerfect formation and lower their respective national flags at the Sunset.

Visitors from the Indian side of the border generally outnumber theirounterparts from the Pakistani side even though the enthusiasm on bothides remains the same.

But, the striking feature of the everyday ceremony is the attempt to outdoach other in a dramatic display of anger and contempt for each other.

"Of the two countries at the ceremony the Indian side was more excited. Itas worth watching," said Anurag, a tourist.

"There were many tourists here. I think it is like that every day. It's aood way to promote India," said Nicholas, a French tourist.

Many believe Punjab seek the services of world renowned experts in tourismnfrastructure to design and develop a sprawling tourist facility withtate-of-the-art recreation gadgetry, gardens, parking space, restaurantsnd hotels near the check-post and along the Wagah-Attari Road.

nd, the growing cordial relations between India and Pakistan will furtherelp in promoting the cause of enabling each other to come closer andevelop a relation of affection and respect. By Ravinder Singh Robin

ANI

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