The Retreat ceremony at Attari-Wagah and Hussainiwala on the India-Pakistan border in recent days has seen a unique pledge being taken by thousands of visitors who flock to watch the high-voltage event….A special report by Jaideep Sarin for Asian Lite News
The unique thing about this pledge is that thousands of people from various states are taking it at the same time, standing right in front of the border guards and people of neighbouring Pakistan.
“Resolving to make India free of the factors which are becoming stumbling blocks in its progress, people from across the country took the ‘Sankalp Se Sidhi’ New India Pledge,” Field Publicity Officer Rajesh Bali said.
The pledge was taken at the Attari-Wagah Joint Check Post, 30 km from Amritsar, on August 23, and at the Hussainiwala border in Ferozepur on September 10. While there were around 15,000 people in attendance at the Attari border, there were nearly 5,000 people at Hussainiwala.
“They pledged to make India free of terrorism, communalism and poverty. People also pledged to keep India clean. It was a unique experience for everyone who participated,” added Bali, who administered the pledge to people at both locations.
The ceremony was conducted by the Amritsar-based unit of the Directorate of Field Publicity (DFP) of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in coordination, along with the Border Security Force (BSF).
BSF Punjab Frontier Inspector General Mukul Goel lauded the people who came in large numbers to watch the Retreat ceremony and to boost the morale of the force, the first line of defence at the international border in Punjab.
Quoting Winston Churchill — “when there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you” — Goel said: “We can unitedly take the challenges head-on, which the country is facing nowadays.”
For the people who participated in the oath-taking ceremony, the experience was unique.
“We had come here in a group of 16 people to watch the Retreat ceremony at Attari. When we came to know about the pledge ceremony, we were excited. It was unique to see and hear nearly 15,000 people speak together, standing right on the international border with a hostile country, with troopers and people in an eyeball-to-eyeball situation,” said Radhika Mehta, a visitor from Mumbai.
The DFP, which came into existence in 1953, creates awareness among the masses, particularly in rural areas, about the government’s policies, programmes and schemes meant for their welfare.
The 25-minute spectacle at the Attari-Wagah border attracts thousands of people every evening as the flags of India and Pakistan are lowered and border gates are closed for the night.
The ceremony, along the Radcliffe Line international border between India and Pakistan, gets your adrenalin and heart pumping faster as border guards, BSF of India and Pakistan Rangers from the neighbouring country, go through their disciplined paces.
The Indian side at Attari has a new stadium-like visitors’ gallery that can accommodate up to 15,000 people. The gallery is always jampacked.
The visitors’ gallery goes up to a height of 25 metres (equivalent to a seven-storey building).
Before the ceremony begins, women and children can be seen dancing their hearts out to some foot-tapping Bollywood songs of the patriotic genre.