Agartala: When we speak about border guards of two countries engaging in beating retreat and high-stepping performances, the first thing that comes to one’s mind is the Attari-Wagah border near Amritsar in Punjab. However, not many people are probably aware that the Northeast of India, too, plays host to one such border ceremony.
Welcome to the Agartala-Akhaura border in Tripura, located barely 5 km from the state capital. Every evening, keeping aside their bitterness for a brief moment, soldiers from the Border Security Force (BSF) of India and the Border Guards of Bangladesh (BGB) engage in synchronised drills. The sight is gripping, one which is sure to leave you full of pride and patriotism.
Any reference to India-Bangladesh together is often dominated by the ‘illegal immigration’ issue, but this exercise breathes fresh air into the whole narrative. An exercise which began in 2013, the Centre sanctioned funds for infrastructure development at the Agartala-Akhaura border in 2016 for a Wagah-like border ceremony, and promote it as a tourist destination.
Donning their official khaki uniforms, wearing medals and donning sky-high red-fanned hats on the Indian side, huge crowds gather every evening to witness the spectacle.
Long bellowing yell is echoed from both sides, followed by synchronised stomps & kicks from both sides of the border. In complete co-ordination, national flags of both the countries are lowered by guards with the bigul call playing in the background.
The Agartala-Akhaura check post is an integrated one, which is also the second largest trading centre with Bangladesh after Benapole and Petrapole in West Bengal.
Awed at the sheer grandeur of the ceremony, people leave no chance to record videos and take pictures to keep the memory preserved. People, young and old, don’t hesitate to take selfies with the otherwise stern-looking BSF personnel.
Apart from satisfying one’s patriotic urge, the ceremony also serves as an opportunity to catch up with their near and dear ones.