A patriotic display and friendliness during ‘Flag Retreat Ceremony’–at Hussainiwala

A patriotic display and friendliness during ‘Flag Retreat Ceremony’–at Hussainiwala

While hostility between India and Pakistan are unending but soldiers of sides enter each other’s territory without any passport or visa…

Despite the fact, the resentment, opposition, aggression and unfriendliness – between India and Pakistan are never-ending on the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, the Retreat Ceremony held on every evening symbolizes perfect brotherhood between soldiers of both the countries at the time of lowering of respective national flags, who enter each other’s territory without any passport or visa.

Hussainiwala - the Joint Check Post – JCP – of India and Pakistan, has been given a new look, from the Indian side, with the construction of gallery with state-of-the- art facilities,  at a cost of Rs.16 crore, to accommodate more than 1,800 visitors on any given day, museum and canteen – increasing the number of visitors.  Besides the ‘Light & Sound’ programme is likely to start in the next phase.

Since 1970, there has been a Retreat Ceremony at the border crossing everyday in the evening at the sun-set when attendees are seated in close proximity at Hussainiwala, as compared to Wagah where crowds are kept apart. It’s jingoistic display at Wagah which draws nationalistic tourists most by local Punjabis from either side of the border.  As a result, the atmosphere is not as tense and Indian and Pakistani attendees often smile and wave to one another and even cheer to for each other’s guards as they perform the border.
What goes to the credit of the Malwa region is that it hosts the Retreat ceremony at two places — Sadqi and Hussainiwala, followed by at Attari near Amritsar. Both – Sadqi and Hussainiwala -  places were earlier in Ferozepore district but now the former has come into the jurisdiction of Fazilka district.
On both the sides, there is a deafening noise as visitors, to cheer their respective soldiers by raising slogans while patriotic songs are played on loudspeakers.
This is the only place in Ferozepur on visit of a relative in any family to witness the Retreat Ceremony which take along with them the memories gestures like stretched shoulders, raised eyebrows, daring glances and thunderous tapping of feet sets an emblazoned feeling of perceptive patriotism amidst all the visitors who raise slogans - “Hindustan Zindabad” and “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” to applaud these guardians of the nation with counter-slogans – “Pakistan Zindabad”.

Added here that  every day, hundreds of people from far and wide flock to the JCP daily to witness the strapping BSF sleuths and Pakistani Rangers marching in tandem, where they match steps and every motion just to outdo each other. In this about half an hour electrifying drill, the sentinels of both the nations try to have an edge over their rivals while lowering the respective national flags with clock-work precision.
Two moments are amazing – one, when two soldiers of the Border Security Force (BSF) and an equal number of Pakistani Rangers march through the thin white border line into each other’s territory to lower their respective flags, without any visa and two, when the flags of both the countries meet each other at the time of lowering.
The visitors on both the sides stand up as a mark of respect to the national flags when these are lowered and folded. The troops also present a guard of honour. There is a rush of visitors on Saturday and Sunday on India side being holidays and on Friday on account of holiday in Pakistan.
Senior officers of the BSF and the Rangers are present at the time of the retreat to oversee smooth conduct of the ceremony.
Frankly speaking, the patriotic feeling comes in everyone’s mind while watching the ceremony but where it goes while returning to normal life, is definitely an individual’s experience.

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