Once a humble village, Attari has come a long way : The Tribune India

Once a humble village, Attari has come a long way

Once a humble village, Attari has come a long way

The new gate at the Attari-Wagah Joint Check Post. Tribune photo

Tribune News Service

GS Paul

Amritsar, August 13

The Joint Check Post (JCP) between the Attari (India) and Wagah (Pakistan) now has flashy gates on both sides. It is here that the Retreat ceremony is held by the Border Security Force (BSF) and Pakistan Rangers, attracting thousands of spectators every day. Also, the JCP facilitates bilateral trade worth crores. It was a different story in 1947.

Two days after Independence, confusion prevailed among the residents of Attari and Wagah as to whether they were living in India or Pakistan. Lord Mountbatten, the Viceroy of India who oversaw Partition, had released a map prepared by British lawyer Sir Cyril Radcliffe, but it did not clearly mark the boundary line between Amritsar and Lahore.

The Partition Museum, set up in the colonial-era Town Hall in Amritsar, has rare photographs and videos that explain how the Attari-Wagah JCP came into being. The pillars demarcating the boundary line were laid by Brig Mohindar Singh Chopra nearly two months after Independence. The original red pillar with a silver plaque installed 75 years ago bears the Brigadier’s name. ‘Foundation of the Flag Staff was laid by Brig Mohindar Singh Chopra on 11th Oct 1947,” it reads.

Rajwinder Kaur, Partition Museum manager, says Brigadier Chopra, who assumed the command of 123 Infantry Brigade in Amritsar on October 8, 1947, was entrusted with the task of defending the turbulent Attari-Wagah crossing swarmed with refugees. He realised the task was hard as there was no boundary line indicating where exactly the GT Road entered Pakistan. His son Pushpinder Singh Chopra, in a video clip repeatedly played at the Partition Museum, says his father reached out to his Pakistani counterpart and was pleasantly surprised to find he was his old friend. Both had served in the same regiment before Partition. The two met at the boundary line following which drums with stones were placed along the berms of the GT Road, separated by a small swing gate, marking the international border. Sentry boxes and tents were painted in the colours of the flags of the two sides. Two flagposts were installed and the border was formally drawn.

The Attari-Wagah check post now serves as a transit point for bilateral trade, creating hundreds of jobs on both sides of the border.

#Pakistan

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