Amitava Banerjee, MP | 15 April 2017 | Darjeeling: Mesmerised by the "Beating Retreat" border ceremony at the Wagah-Attari border? There is good news for you as soon, you will not have to travel all the way to Attari in Punjab to witness this awe-inspiring ceremony. In the next few months, one can witness a similar ceremony at the Phulbari-Banglabandha border.
Aimed at attracting tourists, talks are on with Bangladesh to initiate a similar ceremony at the Phulbari-Banglabandha border with Bangladesh in the Jalpaiguri district. Bengal Tourism minister Gautam Deb visited the Phulbari border and held talks with BSF top brass to give shape to the plan.
"We want to hold a similar "Beating Retreat" border ceremony here. However, it will be a bit different. We will also have a cultural centre. It will definitely be a major tourism attraction," stated Deb.
Deb stated that talks are already on with Bangladesh for this. "Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has already spoken to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. I will also be visiting Bangladesh soon to carry forward the talks. Meanwhile, we are also communicating with the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India for this," added the Tourism minister. Sources state that recently a Bangladesh Rifles contingent had held a joint parade with the BSF at this border.
An integrated tourism plan has already been developed. "We will have visitors' gallery from where the Beating Retreat ceremony can be witnessed. There will be a huge gate on the Indian side built on the lines of the Nalanda gate as Phulbari is fast developing as an educational hub.
"There will be a covered walking pathway leading to Phulbari where an Indo-Bangla Friendship office will come up. The office will provide necessary information and logistics to Bangladesh tourists and even patients coming for treatment from Bangladesh. A North Bengal Cultural centre will also come up showcasing the rich, unique and diverse culture of North Bengal. A model tourism township is on the anvil," stated Raj Basu of Convenor, Association for Conservation and Tourism (ACT).
Banglabandha is a land port located in the Panchagarh district of Rangpur Division of Bangladesh. On the Indian side is Phulbari in the Jalpaiguri district which is in close proximity to the important town of Siliguri. The border is manned by the BSF on the Indian side and Bangladesh Rifles on the Bangladesh side.
The land port facilitates trade with India, Nepal and Bhutan. Though earlier, only goods vehicles were allowed through this border, on February 18, 2016, transit check posts were set up by the two countries.
A large number of Bangladeshi tourists visit India every year. In 2015, the figure stood at 1.12 million.
Along with this, Bangladeshis visit India for education and medical treatment too.