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Border games

| Updated on October 11, 2019 Published on October 11, 2019

At the Indo-Bangladesh checkpoint, a military ceremony celebrates good fences that make for good neighbours

It’s known as the ‘Wagah of the East’. After a quick friendly handshake, the soldiers of the BSF (Border Security Force) and the BGB (Border Guard Bangladesh) march into ‘no man’s land’ in their ceremonial dress. The BGB, formerly known as Bangladesh Rifles, is that country’s oldest uniformed force. Together with India’s BSF, they have been taking part in the Petrapole-Benapole joint retreat ceremony since November 6, 2013, when it was inaugurated by the home ministers of both countries.

Over the course of the 30-minute ceremony, a daily event at sundown, the India and Bangladesh flags are lowered in a joint military exercise similar to the one at Attari-Wagah on the India-Pakistan border, but with a key difference — here the undertones appear far friendlier. Also, unlike the big crowds at Wagah, there are barely any locals or tourists at this eastern checkpoint, proving that not many are aware of it yet. At the end of the ceremony, the BSF jawans gallantly pose with visitors for photos.

Petrapole, on the Indian side, is 82 km from Kolkata while Benapole on the Bangladesh side is over 234 km from the capital Dhaka.

More than half of all India-Bangladesh trade, set to cross ₹63,000 crore, passes through Petrapole. Approximately 15 lakh people and 1.5 lakh trucks cross the Petrapole-Benapole checkpoint each year.

Rajeev Tyagi is a Delhi-based photo journalist

Published on October 11, 2019