Hussainiwala is a small border village in Ferozepur, Punjab and the most I knew about it was due to its closeness to the more famous Attari border in Punjab. While on a field visit sometime ago, it was happy fate that brought me to Hussainiwala and I had one of the most poignant & enriching evening, visiting Hussainiwala and witnessing the Retreat Ceremony.
Hussainiwala Border, like its more famous counterparts Wagah Border and Attari Border is one of the Border villages of India-Pakistan border, in Punjab state. However, it has a deep connection with the Indian Freedom movement, post-partition heritage and also India-Pakistan war history.
Hussainiwala happens to be the site of National Martyrs Memorial, where freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were cremated on 23 March 1931. It is also the cremation place of Batukeshwar Dutt, who was also involved in bombing the Central Legislative Assembly with Bhagat Singh. An annual fair takes place at the memorial on 23 March, which is the anniversary of Bhagat Singh’s death.
We had driven almost up to Hussainiwala Border at the end of our field visit and were about to turn back, when our field co-workers insisted that we attend the Retreat ceremony, which happens every evening. I knew about the Retreat ceremony at Wagah border, having witnessed it couple of years back and my interest was piqued. All of our team members also seemed to be interested and with a quick round of phone calls, our field staff arranged VIP passes for us. We were actually in the nick of time as we were the last ones to enter the ceremony area before gates closed.
Read about my visit to Wagah Border in Punjab.
The Hussainiwala border Retreat ceremony is on smaller scale, though the audience on both sides of the country (i.e. India and Pakistan) are seated closer to each other. The Retreat ceremony is a spectacle of our chivalry, one-upmanship of both the countries border guards (literally, as its about who can march their leg up higher than the other) and the emotions on both sides run high! Lots of slogan shouting (all positive slogans) and cheering happen, which makes for a happy boisterous ambiance.
Post Retreat ceremony, we visited the Martyr’s Memorial and also the War Memorial.
Hussainiwala has been the centre of two Wars between India and Pakistan : Indo-Pak War of 1965 and 1975.
Indo-Pak War of 1965 “At the outbreak of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, the 2nd Maratha Light Infantry (Kali Panchwin) was based in Mathura when it was deployed to Hussainiwala in the Firozpur sector of Punjab. It defended the Hussainiwala headworks against an attack by a full infantry brigade supported by armoured columns of the Pakistan Army. The tower on the other side of the river was captured and razed to ground. Lt KM. Palande, Lt. Feroz Doctor, Lt. S Deshpande showed great courage and ingenuity to thwart an enemy frontal attack. The enemy also used artillery fire and air support in this engagement. Two enemy tanks were destroyed and two captured, with several enemy killed. The commanding officer Col. Nolan was killed by an enemy artillery shelling the next morning while supervising operations. It was a major loss to the battalion. The unit ensured that the Samadhi of Bhagat Singh was not desecrated by the Pak Army. The battalion was visited by then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, Defence Minister Kamraj, the Chief of Army Staff and other senior officers. Kali Panchwin was awarded the battle honour “Hussainiwala” for its role in the 1965 War.” (Source: Wikipedia)
Indo-Pak War of 1971 “In the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971 many memorials of Bhagat Singh and others were destroyed by Pakistani artillery. Two companies of the 15th Punjab (formerly First Patiala) were attacked by four brigades of the Pakistan Army on 3 December 1971 at 1835 hours. Nearly 4,000 Pakistani men attacked the Indian side with 15 tanks and heavy artillery support.” (Source : Wikipedia)
After Independence, when India was divided into 3 parts and Pakistan was carved out of the western Parts of Punjab, Hussainiwala experienced the full effects of partition, with huge crowds of migrants from Pakistan coming by Train to Hussainiwala. Part of the British era train station is still preserved beautifully and it makes for an emotional moment standing there and just imagining how it must have felt for refugees to land here leaving all of their lives and coming here with almost nothing.
Hussainiwala definitely makes for an interesting visit and if you are in Amritsar, then do visit this interesting place in Punjab.
Read my visit to Amritsar, Punjab.
Read about my visit to Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, Punjab.
Read my visit to Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab