Shelling hampers tourism, visitors miss glimpse of Indo-Pak ‘bonhomie’ at Jammu’s Suchetgarh

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Vishal Bharti

R S Pura, November 20
Situated close to the zeroline?Suchetgarh now a days is facing decline in number of visitors not only from outside the state but the locals as well in view of escalated Indo-Pak tension on the border.
Sensing trouble and in view of safety measure for the visitors, the border guards have temporarily suspended the visit of tourists reaching Suchetgarh, which is around 35-kms from here to have a glimpse of Indo-Pak ‘bonhomie’.
Developing Suchetgarh on the pattern of Wagah Border pattern, the project is already in the pipeline of the Jammu and Kashmir Government, but due to no clearance from the Union Home Ministry, the process cannot be initiated and remained into cold store due to time and again tensions broke out between India and Pakistan on borders. ”The entry to the Suchetgarh point has been suspended temporarily as we do not want to put anybody’s life at risk as the situation is not conducive along the international border,” official sources here told UNI. They said that no doubt it has affected the tourism sector but life is precious.
”With the onset of winters, numbers of tourists to Suchetgarh rises but at the moment, there are strict instructions that nobody will be allowed to enter the point especially on the other end where Pakistan post is visible and just few metres away,” he added.
In routine, private cars and hired cabs bringing tourists to the Suchetgarh-Octroi post to give them a feel of the international border but, with skimmerish  borders, infrastructure created by the Tourism Department near the post lies abandoned.
Deserted eateries and cafes are a grim reminder of how border conflict hits the economy in Jammu and Kashmir.
Successive governments for years have planned to develop the Suchetgarh post so that it rivals the Wagah border in Punjab.
Suchetgarh has a historical significance ever since Dogra rule was established in the state in the mid-18th century. It used to be an important trading point between Sialkot and Jammu before Partition.
Two years after the 2003 ceasefire agreement, the state government had submitted a plan to the Centre to develop it on the pattern of the Wagah border and it was in 2014 after years long delay, it finally completed.
However, about Rs 3.2 crore has been spent since 2010 on upgrading infrastructure in Suchetgarh as under the Central project, a tourist facilitation centre, a terraced garden, landscaping and a walkway had been developed to felicitate the tourists.
BJP had also demanded beating retreat and flag ceremony at Suchetgarh border to boost the border tourism.
The holding of ceremony would lead to increase in the number of tourist visiting the area resulting in more revenue and employment opportunities for the local communities and people and would increase patriotism among the visitors, BJP had said.
Suchetgarh is a Village in R S Pura Sector (Tehsil) of Jammu and is surrounded by nearly 10 border villagers. (UNI

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