CHANDIGARH: Bhagat Singh’s martydom day, Shaheed Diwas, was a day of freedom of sorts for the 800 residents of Mohar Jamsher village, sandwiched by Pakistan on three sides and the Sutlej river on the Indian side.
On March 23 - the day the freedom fighter was hanged by the British in 1931 - the Border Security Force (BSF) removed the fences that had hemmed in the village on the border in Fazilka sub-division of Punjab since 1995, and allowed the residents to venture out of their homes after sunset.
The BSF had a post 36 metres away, and would close the village gate at sunset. Visitors were checked, and 1,000 acres of the village’s agricultural land fenced out by the security force. After the removal of the fence, just 50 acres is fenced.
“We had a hard time during monsoons when the pontoon bridge erected by the army would be removed. We had to use boats to go to the mainland. Two years ago, the BSF built a bridge, on which entry was regulated. We had been asking the government to lift this restriction, which has finally happened,” said Chhina Singh, sarpanch of the Mohar Jamsher. For weddings and other functions, the villagers had to go to neighbouring villages.
The BSF has boats, but ferries villagers only in emergencies and rescue operations during monsoons. The villagers carry identity cards issued by the BSF, while visitors required an application signed by the sarpanch.
The village got its unique geographical position after India gave the land to Pakistan in exchange for land near Hussainiwala in Punjab’s Firozpur district on the border in 1961. Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were cremated on March 23, 1931, on the banks of the Sutlej river in Hussainiwala.