BSF to put border posts on tourist map
NEW DELHI: The Border Security Force (BSF) is looking to develop at least 10 historically important sites along the country’s eastern and western borders as tourist hotspots. These are places where either battles were fought or have a shrine visited by people from both sides of the border or where the ‘beating retreat’ ceremony is held. While these places get footfalls, there is a danger of civilians being caught in cross-border fire.
An officer of the BSF said developing these sites for tourism will not only help foster peace and stability in these spots but will also educate the people about the tough conditions that soldiers live in.
The 10 sites shortlisted by the BSF for the proposed programme are — Octroi border outpost (BOP) and Chamliyal BOP in Jammu & Kashmir, Attari and Hussainiwala joint check posts and Sadqi BOP in Punjab, Tanot in Rajasthan, Narabet BOP in Gujarat, Petrapole and Sunderbans in West Bengal and Dawki in Meghalaya.
According to the BSF, adequate security arrangements have been made at these spots, especially after the border skirmishes and surgical strikes along the LoC with Pakistan in 2016. About two years ago, the home ministry had mooted the idea of ‘Seema Darshan’ (border tourism) as a means to instill a “sense of nationalism” among citizens.
Octroi was a tax collection post between the then Riyasat of Lahore and Jammu during the rule of Maharaja Hari Singh. BOP Chamliyal is named in honour of Sufi saint Baba Dilip Singh, also known as Baba Chamliyal, who is revered by people from both countries. Every year, a Pakistani delegation arrives at the ‘zero line’ (international border) to hand over the ‘holy chadar’.
Hussainiwala in Punjab is famous for the ‘beating retreat’ ceremony between the BSF and Pakistan Rangers, similar to what is done at the Attari-Wagah joint check post. Hussainiwala was also the cremation place of freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Shivaram Rajguru and Sukhdev Thapar.
The Tanot administrative base in Jaisalmer is famous for the Tanot Mata Mandir. Highlighting its importance, a BSF official said, “There is a saying that during 1971In-do-Pak war, when the Pakistan army had attacked the Longewala post, there was heavy shelling at the Tanot post. But none of the shells exploded due to the blessing of Mata Tanot Rai.”
The BSF has also proposed to include the Asafwala check post in Punjab where a memorial for the 1971 war heroes is being maintained by local residents. Even Kilapara BOP in Meghalaya, where nine BSF soldiers laid down their lives for liberation of Bangladesh, may also be included.