Attari-Wagah Border: A modified retreat, "a show that must go on"

Wagah, Nov.4 (ANI): Spectators who visit the Attari - Wagah land route to watch the "Beating the Retreat" ceremony opine that even as the two neighbours have decided to tone down the shrill drill, the "show must go on".

Over 15,000 people from far flung places come here to watch this synchronized theatrical drill that takes place daily at the Attari-Wagah border checkpost.

It is pertinent to mention that Border Security Guards of India and the Rangers of Pakistan on Saturday decided to withdraw provocative gestures like shoulder high kicks, staring into the eyes of the opposing soldier, boot stomping and a showing of thumbs to each other etc.

In the past, aggressive posturing from both sides was the order of the day, but India took the initiative to tone down these gestures last year. With Pakistan also agreeing to do the same, the whole exercise has acquired a new nuance.

Local residents feel that this toning down of aggressive posturing will go a long way in strengthening brotherhood between the troopers on either side of the India-Pakistan border.

"People from all over the world come to watch the drill," said Gurpreet Singh Soni, who has been running a traditional food joint or Dhabha here for the last ten years. He informed that during normal days 15,000 persons visit the place, but during the weekends, the number rises to even 25,000, which includes foreign tourists as well.

"The retreat is very important because people from all over the world come here to witness this ceremony. There is a lot of love and affection among people here. Pakistani and Indian troopers are involved in this ceremony, and to see the two countries perform together, crowds from all over India and even the south come here in large numbers," he added.

Mandeep, a visitor here, said he has watched the retreat ceremony ten times. He says that though he will be missing the aggressive gestures, he feels that India and Pakistan will come closure and have better understanding by such small confidence building steps.

"They have modified the retreat ceremony; this would further strengthen the faith and love between the two countries. This will also benefit the BSF (Border Security Force) troopers as they can interact on a friendlier note with their counterparts across the border. The brotherhood between the border rangers would increase," said Narinder Pal Singh, a spectator.

Sukhjinder Randhawa, another visitor, said: "The show is a must watch."

As a new look is being introduced in the show, he hopes the drill will never end and would continue to thrill visitors. By Ravinder Singh Robin(ANI)

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