The Wagah border was created with the inception of Pakistan as a new nation and saw the massacre of thousands of people in the greatest human migration that ever took place. Millions of people were displaced, their homes plundered, and many became victims of violent riots. The Wagah border can sometimes be a grim reminder of the history of anguish and atrocities of people who were rendered homeless and forced to migrate.
The Wagah Border is also referred to as the “Berlin Wall of Asia”. The Wagah Border is known as the ceremonial Border between India and Pakistan because each evening thousands of visitors across the nations gather to witness the Retreat ceremony also known as the “Lowering of flags”. At the time of dusk, when the ceremony starts, a great enthusiasm and energy flows through the crowd. The most attractive feature is the energetic parade by the BSF (Border Security Forces) Soldiers of both the nations. It may seem slightly aggressive and even hostile to foreigners, but it really is just grand entertainment for the crowds with grand stands being built on both sides. Troops of each country put on quite an entertaining show in their uniforms with their colorful turbans.
Radcliffe Line : The Radcliffe Line became the border between India and Pakistan on 17 August 1947 after the Partition of India. The line was decided by the Border Commissions chaired by Sir Cyril Radcliffe, who was to divide equitably 175,000 square miles (450,000 km2) of territory with 88 million people.
The Retreat Ceremony is conducted at Wagah Border since 60 years. Now it has become a daily ritual performed every evening. It is a well coordinated, organized and spectacular display put together by Border Security Force (B.S.F.) soldiers on the Indian side and the Sutlej Rangersof Pakistan on the other side.
The sound of bugles indicates the start of the ceremony. It is blown together by the guards on both the sides. Then comes the loud sounds of thumping of boots, snorts full of aggression, chanting of “Bharat mata ki jai” and “Vande Matram” on the Indian Side. The people on the other side of the border provoked with equal enthusiasm and energy respond by shouting “Pakistan Zindabad”.
The whole crowd transforms into a hooting and jumping cheerleaders. Passion and patriotism is at all time high. Visitors on the Indian side shout “Jai Mata di”, “Jai Hind”, “Mera Bharat Mahan” etc. on the top of their voice. The moment becomes so live and full of energy. The two countries are rivals since ages but here at Wagah border the Soldiers show rivalry in a healthier way.
This political icon that saw the partition has now become a major tourist attraction; almost eight thousand people visit the border everyday to witness the flag lowering ceremony that lasts for about forty-five minutes. The Indian government is even thinking about opening a tourist complex near the border to increase and promote it as a tourist attraction.
After the ceremony is over people from both the countries are within touchable distance of each other. However, interaction and talking is not permitted by both the governments. In spite of this there are shouts of “Greetings from India” or “Greetings from Pakistan” by spectators. Spectators are not even allowed to touch the ones on the other side. Many people return home with mixed feelings about the relations between India and Pakistan. The Wagah border has an iconic significance for both the countries and is a grim reminder of the past and the present tensions between them.