The world needs no introduction about the flag lowering ceremony at Wagah-Attari border. The military forces of 2 nuclear-powered neighbors – India and Pakistan, who have fought 3 wars between them, jointly perform the ceremony. Every time the relation between them worsens, ceremonial gestures become aggressive.
At the same time, another flag lowering ceremony takes place between India and Bangladesh at Akhaura border near Agartala, the capital city of Tripura. Much less famous but equally patriotic, the ceremony is performed by Border Security Force (BSF) of India and Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB). The Akhaura border ceremony is slowly getting famous and with each passing day, the size of the audience is getting bigger.
December 22, 2014: I reached Akhaura border at about 4 P.M. I was just in time as the BSF Jawans were getting ready for the ceremony – thanks to Tapas, my cab driver. An integrated check post was inaugurated on 17th November, 2013 to boost border trade. I could see the pillars that mark the international border and also the Indo-Bangladesh barrier – heavily fenced, which is constructed well inside the Indian Territory. As I was waiting with a small audience, the guards announced that the ceremony was about to commence. Ladies and children were asked to stand in the front row to get uninterrupted view of the events. The BSF Jawans in a polite and reassuring voice cautioned us not to block the marching path.
The arrangements to watch the ceremony is minimal or rather nil. There are no pavilions or seats like in Wagah-Attari border. The border gates of the 2 countries look like simple tollgates. Here, all one can feel is immense mutual respect. A “patriotic calm” prevailed as the guards proceeded to lower the flags of their respective motherlands. The bugle provided the perfect backdrop for the events. The BSF Jawan lowered the flag and folded it in a synchronized set of steps. A short interaction between the citizens of the 2 nations was organized after the ceremony came to an end – under the close supervision of the Jawans, so that nobody resort to “barter system” across the border. And then we had the chance to interact with BSF Jawans. This time they were much relaxed and at ease as they were dealing with their own countrymen. Everybody was excited for photo sessions and handshakes with the brave hearts of the nation. As the event came to an end, I walked towards the parking slot. My first day at Tripura was hectic. Tapas was driving the taxi back to the hotel. Tonight I can sleep peacefully with the renewed assurance that Indian armed forces are guarding the frontiers.
scenes across the border
scenes across the border
Border Guards Bangladesh
a shrine of Lord Shiva at the border
border pillar and the fence
Travel Info: Akhaura border is at around 5 km from Agartala city, capital of Tripura. Arrive at the border before 4 P.M. to watch the event during winters as the sun sets early during this period. Don’t miss a chance to take a photograph with the BSF Jawans.
The relations between the 2 neighbors have considerably improved in the last 2 years. India and Bangladesh have been victims of terror and they are now jointly working to eliminate extremism from their territory. The governments of the 2 countries adopted the reassessed Land Boundary Agreement in 2015 thereby disentangling the international borders. Indian companies have increased their investments in Bangladesh, which in turn have returned favor by allowing transport of goods across its territory to the remote Northeast India. Visa requirements for the citizens were eased to improve the interaction of people. Major agreements have also been signed in the areas of Health and Energy cooperation.