40 years after war, bridge opens near Hussainiwala border

FEROZEPUR (TIP): A strategically important bridge, which was blown up during 1971 India-Pakistan war to save Ferozepur, was opened at Hazara village near Hussainiwala international border on Wednesday. The bridge is a lifeline of nearly 10 villages and their only land link with the country. Militarily, it can support offensive operations in developing a thrust towards Kasur and Lahore in Pakistan. It is also vital for Border Security Force ( BSF) guarding the international border near Ferozepur, as the supply of their ration, weaponry and troops would now be an easy task.

The bridge was blown up during the 1971 India-Pakistan war to prevent advances of the Pakistan army. Till date, troops and the villagers of adjoining areas used to cross the Satluj using a makeshift wooden bridge. The newly-opened bridge has been named after two Army officers, Maj Kanwaljit Singh Sandhu and Maj S P S Waraich of 15-Punjab Regiment, who had fought valiantly to defend Hussainiwala during the Indo-Pak war exactly 42 years back on December 3-4 in 1971.Wives of these two 1971 war heroes, Jasbir Kaur Sandhu and Rupinder Kaur Warraich, inaugurated the bridge in the presence of other civil dignitaries.

15-Punjab Regiment lost its 53 men in this battle and two officers – Maj Sandhu and Maj Waraich – while 35 men were taken prisoners. Both the officers were declared prisoners of war (POW) and their whereabouts are not known since 1971 war. According to the Army, Sandhu and Waraich had delayed the Pakistan army attack led by a squadron of enemy’s tank. In the ensuing battle over Hussainiwala barrage was blown up and Ferozepur was saved.

The strategic bridge has been constructed by Border Road Organization (BRO) under their project “Chetak” at the cost of around Rs 3.80 crore. Project “Chetak” of BRO, which has the mandate of building strategic roads and infrastructure for armed forces, has the jurisdiction over the three states Rajasthan, Punjab and a part of Gujarat.

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