It was a sultry afternoon in the month of June that we drove down to Ferozepur from Jullundhar. That was fourteen years back. I remember sticking my head out of the window all through the journey trying to take in as much of the breeze as I could. A drive through the highways in Punjab is always a good experience. Flanked by tall poplar trees mostly, the Jullundhar-Moga-Ferozepur road is a delight except when we intercepted cities. The countryside on the other hand brings much relief with the lush fields and the network of irrigation canals.
|Retreat Ceremony at Hussainiwala|
We were on our way to the Ferozepur cantonment. It was to be my first visit to my husband's parent unit on the occasion of the Raising Day of the 10 Sikh Regiment. After the partition of India, Ferozepur turned into a frontier town. It has borne the brunt of the hostilities between India and Pakistan during the wars between the two nations. During our drive to this town many bunkers were pointed out. Incongruous in the middle of the swaying paddy fields. Once every year these bunkers become active when there is an exercise alert. Soldiers clear them out for a battle preparedness drill.
The next day we drove down to Hussainiwala, the border check post between the two nations. It is the lesser known counterpart of the Wagah border famed for it's high profile exaggerated Retreat ceremony when change of guards takes place. The first time I witnessed this I couldn't help being amused at the loud stomping, exchange of glares between the guards and a body language adopted to foster intimidation. The change of guard at Hussainiwala was no less. Only the audience was limited. It is sad that fate decided to carve a line on this land drawing blood from those countless doomed families snatching and scattering their near and dear ones.
There are many places that one can visit from Ferozepur. Amritsar's Golden Temple being the foremost around 110 km away. Being situated on the banks of the river Sutlej, Ferozepur also has the Harike Barrage. From this point on towards the west is Pakistan where the river bed is mostly dry. In fact, according to the Indus Water Treaty between the two nations, India has exclusive first rights over Sutlej, Beas and Ravi whereas Pakistan draws it's water requirements from Jhelum, Chenab and Indus. Although the six rivers originate in the Indus basin and flows through India before reaching Pakistan, the treaty has been honoured during all the three occasions of hostilities.
A frontier town, Ferozepur is much neglected owing to it's strategic location as far as trade and development is concerned. It silently shoulders what history handed it down.