Mohindar Singh Chopra, a Major General who played a key role in setting up the ‘Wagah border’

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Wagah Border is the famous name for the Indian check post on the border with Pakistan at Attari, a village in Punjab. The post is widely known after Wagah, a village on the Pakistani side of the border. The checkpoint lies on the Grand Trunk Road (GT Road), 32 km from Amritsar, and 24 km from Lahore.

The Indian side of the post is protected by the Border Security Force (BSF) while the Pakistan Rangers handle the other side. The ceremony is often used as a figurative display of the state of ties between New Delhi and Islamabad.

Today, 73 years later, certain facts related to India’s Independence and Partition may come as an eye-opener to many in the present generation. There were many chunky princely states joining the Union only in the following months or years, people in many cities were oblivious and clueless, whether they would be a part of India or Pakistan because Lord Mountbatten released the map only on August 17.

It wasn’t until 1986 that barbed fences began to be fabricated along the border with Pakistan. The border check post between the villages of Attari and Wagah is the ultimate representation of jingoism and of antagonism with the neighbor.

This check post is popular for the ceremonial and simultaneous lowering of the flags of both countries in the evening. The ceremony is attended by a parade and a coordinated stand-offish display by the workforce of both countries. But due to high kicks and the hard stamping of boots by the patrol from both sides have forced both countries to construct new galleries to accommodate more spectators.

Brigadier Mohindar Singh Chopra was one of the key figures in the process of Partition. The high-profile check post situated on the historic Grand Trunk Road was established nearly two months after Partition by Mohindar Singh Chopra on 11th October 1947. Not much is known about this Sikh officer who had served a main role in the partition.

However, his son Pushpindar Singh Chopra became heir to the personal records maintained by Major General Chopra, and shared the following details: During mid-1947, the traffic of GT Road obtained a dark character. Around thousands of Punjabis moved to the east or to the west in an unorganized manner, but the flow quickly became a downpour on August 15, and soon afterward, lakhs of terrified refugees were using the G.T. Road to flee to the east or west. This continued for the next two months even as the Punjab Boundary Force and the Military Evacuation Organisation struggled to protect the millions.

Chopra further explained that there were no markers or pillars to delegate the exact spot where the GT Road left India and entered Pakistan. But there was this formal boundary between the Lahore and Amritsar districts of undivided Punjab. So it was there that his father, who commanded the

123 Infantry Bridge Amritsar at that time, set up a joint check-post on October 11, 1947.

Source: The Hindu

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