BoP Octroi: From ceasefire violations to tourist destination

Once on the boil, these border villages are now witnessing peace.
File Photo of Suchetgarh Border out Post
File Photo of Suchetgarh Border out Post

Jammu: The Border out Post Octroi on the International Border (IB) in Suchetgarh and Chamliyal in Samba have turned into famous tourist destinations.

The India-Pakistan border that used to remain infamous for cross-border shelling and temporary migration by villagers to safer places is now witnessing the visits of people from across J&K as well as outside.

Once on the boil, these border villages are now witnessing peace.

The farmers are doing their normal chores with the support of the Border Security Force (BSF) and civil administration.

They are now cultivating fields where wild grass has grown.

The tourism promotion and visit of the tourists in the forward areas has increased particularly with the start of ‘Retreat Ceremony’ at the Border out Post, Octroi in Suchetgarh’s International Border in Jammu district.

The ceremony started in October 2021.

Since then, the BSF has been regularly organising a ‘Retreat Ceremony’ every Saturday and Sunday and the event is attracting more than 1500 to 2000 people on a day.

The Tourism Department also established some facilities for the visitors.

Barring some isolated incidents of drone activities, cross-border tunnel detection, and foiling of arms smuggling attempts, IB has witnessed complete peace from February 2021.

As per the officials in the security establishment, there was no ceasefire violation between the two border guards since last year.

Talking to Greater Kashmir, District Development Council (DDC) member from Suchetgarh, Taranjit Singh Tony said, “The BoP Octroi has become famous and people from various areas visit the place and see the border. However, the tourist infrastructure is not up to the mark for meeting the requirement of the present-day tourist inflow.”

A resident of Jammu city who visited the Suchetgarh border’s BoP Octroi post with his family said, “People want to see India and Pakistan’s extreme border – the ‘No Man’s Land’ where the Indian boundary ends and the Pakistan boundary begins.”

This place includes a barricaded single road that passes through the two countries - India and Pakistan, and a tree divided between India and Pakistan.

The signs of hostility still could be seen in bullet marks in the structures on the BoP which often reminds one of how things could turn dangerous anytime.

In Chamliyal, Samba, thousands of devotees visited the shrine on June 23.

The shrine is considered sacred by the people of all communities.

After the disruption during the two years of COVID-19 pandemic, this year the organisers were expecting the participation of thousands of people at the shrine.

The last fair at Chamliyal was cancelled following the killing of four BSF personnel in the cross-border firing.

The shrine is a symbol of India-Pakistan bonhomie as people from both sides visit the shrine on either side of the IB.

In Pakistan, a fair is organised at Saidawali in Sialkot, and in India, it is organised at Chamlayal in the Ramgarh sector of Samba.

In the past, the border guards of the two countries used to exchange sweets and chadder.

The Indian side would send shaker (sacred clay), chadar, and sharbat (water) to their Pakistani counterparts for distribution among the devotees on the Pakistani side.

The people who have skin diseases visit the shrine and apply clay to cure their diseases.

“The people have successfully been cured of skin diseases,” Mohan Singh Bhatti, ex-Sarpanch of Jerda village in Samba district told Greater Kashmir.

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