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Force Magazine

Fostering Friendship

The simple joint retreat ceremony at the Indo-Bangladesh border is a festive occasion for the villagers

By Dilip Kumar Mekala

Petrapole: It is about five in the evening and the sun has begun to set. The crowd has started to gather. At this hour, the busiest land trade transit point between India and Bangladesh, Petrapole-Benapole, gears up for the joint retreat ceremony. Songs of Bangladeshi poet Kazi Nazrul Islam and India’s Rabindranath Tagore fill the air, creating a patriotic atmosphere. Contingents of about 10 soldiers each from Border Security Force (BSF) and Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) respectively march up to the gate at zero line and open the door. Many from among the crowd come there just to watch the troops in full regalia, conducting the drill in perfect unison, and finally, lowering the respective national flags. For the sleepy border villages, it is certainly a glamorous event.

“This is completely different from the joint retreat ceremony at Attari-Wagah border,” explained a BSF officer. On any usual day at the event, there are no jingoistic slogans, no signs of antagonism, no provocative hand gestures - hardly any waving of flags. “This event celebrates the friendship between the countries,” further added the officer. Perhaps, the only thing common between the retreat ceremony here and the one at the Attari-Wagah border, besides the lowering of the national flag of course, is the song from the Bollywood movie, Border, ‘Sandese aate hain, humme tadpate hain’.

BSF contingent at the joint retreat ceremony
BSF contingent at the joint retreat ceremony

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