High alert sounded at Attari after Lahore siege

Dharmendra Rataul

Attari: We could hear powerful blasts throughout the day. We thought there were some exercises going on in Pakistan,” said a Border Security Force jawan posted at the Indo-Pak joint border check post here. He was reacting to the daring terrorist attack on Pakistan’s police academy near Lahore, which is merely 8 km from here. Situated on the Lahore-Wagah GT Road, the academy was under siege on Monday and the gunbattle was clearly audible at Attari.

Though it was business as usual at the joint check post, there has been an unprecedented step-up in security. “We saw Pakistani Rangers swing into action immediately as they were called away from the border post to fight the terrorists,” said BSF officials requesting anonymity.

“We have put the forces at high alert. This is for the first time that terrorists have struck so close to the international border,” said BSF Inspector General Himmat Singh, adding, “I would not be able to comment more, but we have

taken all precautionary measures required and security and patrolling on the border has been stepped up.”

Goods trucks, Lahore-Delhi and Delhi-Lahore buses crossed over to Pakistan as usual, but an uneasy calm prevailed due to the security forces becoming more vigilant. “When I took the truck to Pakistan, the security forces there did not allow me to alight from the truck. I kept sitting inside as the goods were unloaded,” said Balbir Singh, a truck driver.

Though IG Himmat Singh did not confirm, BSF sources said the BSF had taken up the matter of foolproof security to visitors during the Retreat ceremony on Monday. More than 20,000 visitors gathered for the Retreat ceremony at sunset today. “The number of passengers on Pakistan’s side was lesser,” said Resham Singh, a porter at the border.

On the other hand, the Lahore-Delhi bus carrying 40 passengers and Delhi-Lahore bus with 22 passengers on board crossed into India and Pakistan, respectively, amid tight security. “The route of the bus was diverted in Pakistan and security has been increased,” said Ashaliya Masih, a traveller. The number of passengers on Samjhauta Express that arrived from Pakistan at Attari was drastically low on Monday. While the number is usually 500 to 600, the train had just 238 persons on board, confirmed Railways authorities at Attari international railway station.

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