Millennium Post

Daily Retreat ceremony along Indo-Pak border cancelled

New Delhi: The daily Retreat ceremony held at the Attari-Wagah border front along the India-Pakistan border in Punjab was cancelled for Friday in view of IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman's release by Pakistan at this frontier, the BSF said.

A senior official of the force said the martial ceremony was called off due to administrative requirements.

Officials said it was estimated that over 20,000 people could gather on the Indian side to welcome IAF pilot and it could be a security nightmare.

Hundreds of people had flocked the Attari border since early Friday morning to catch a glimpse of Abhinandan. Hence, it was decided to call the ceremony off on Friday so that nothing untoward happens.

The Border Security Force (BSF) conducts the ceremony in coordination with their cross-border counterparts Pak Rangers. It involves lowering of the flags of the two countries along with foot stomping manoeuvres of the troops.

The decision was communicated to the Pak Rangers by the BSF, he said. It is expected that the Rangers will also issue directions to suspend the ceremony and not allow people to congregate on their side, he said.

Senior officers of the BSF have already reached the border front to ensure that the handing over procedure of the IAF pilot is conducted smoothly and a general directive has been issued to all the security units of the force to remain alert.

Abhinandan was captured by the Pakistan Army after his fighter jet crashed in an air duel with a Pakistani F-16. He shot down the plane before his own went down, forcing him to eject. He fell into Pakistani territory. On Thursday, Khan announced that the IAF pilot would be released as a "gesture of peace".

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