Ferozepur, January 11
For the past over four decades, ahead of every polling season, leaders across the political spectrum used to raise the pitch for “Border khula diyange (Borders will be opened)”, perhaps to allure the electorate in this border constituency that shares the international border with Pakistan.However, call it an aftermath of the trans-LoC “surgical strikes” and subsequent aggressive demeanours exhibited by forces on either side of the fence, this catchphrase, which was considered a “magic wand” for the people of this area, has been “missing” from political rhetoric during these polls.“Earlier, this slogan was exploited to the hilt by every candidate. However, none of the politicians is talking about it this time,” said Dr Tirath Garg, political observer.“Not that people don’t want this border to open anymore, but probably given the strained relations between India and Pakistan, the “netas” prefer not to raise any controversy over this sensitive issue,” he added.Till date, all promises to re-open this Hussainiwala-Lahore route for trade and transit, which was closed after the 1971 Indo-Pak conflict, have proved hollow, believes local residents. “Every time, the elections were on the anvil, the candidates used to talk about the need to reopen this border,” said Malwinder Sodhi, a local farmer. Sodhi recalls that before the onset of hostilities in 1971, this border was the lifeline for traders engaged in import-export business of dry fruit, vegetables and other commodities. Besides, local cinema halls used to attract a lot of Pakistani visitors.But the border’s sudden closure sounded a death knell for the economic prosperity of this region. Since then, the residents of this area have been clamouring for its re-opening. “The opening of this border can open floodgates of prosperity for lakhs of people of the Malwa belt, but suddenly the matter has been put on back-burner,” says advocate JS Sodhi. “After waiting for more than four decades, it seems ‘Lahore dreams’ are now fading into oblivion,” he added.