Amritsar residents eagerly await Queen’s Baton Relay

Amritsar, June 24 (Calcutta Tube) Residents of this Sikh holy city in Punjab are upbeat and eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Queen’s Baton Relay for the 19th Commonwealth Games that will enter India from Pakistan through the Attari border, some 30 km from here, Friday.

The district administration has made elaborate arrangements to welcome the baton and the main areas of this city through which the baton will travel through and stay overnight are all decked up.

‘We feel very happy that the baton relay will first cross Amritsar before traveling rest of the country. Suddenly, news stories from Amritsar have started making headlines in all the national dailies and we feel proud to be residents of this city,’ Abhimanyu Thapar, a young entrepreneur who runs an import-export business here, told IANS.

Simranjit Sandhu, a college student, said: ‘I am eagerly waiting for Friday, when the Queen’s Baton Relay will enter India after covering nearly 70 countries. It would be one of the most significant days in the history of Amritsar.’

‘I would certainly like to become a part of this historic day, along with my family members and friends. I will go to Company Bagh (where the baton will be placed for public display),’ she added.

Syed Arif Hassan, the president of the Pakistan Olympic Association, will hand over the baton to his Indian counterpart Suresh Kalmadi at the Attari border Friday morning.

From here, the baton will cover nearly 25 states and seven union territories, traveling over 20,000 kilometers, before finally reaching New Delhi September 30 ahead of the October 3-14 Commonwealth Games. The Games are the biggest sporting extravaganza to be held in India after the 1982 Asian Games.

The city’s restaurant and hotel owners are expecting increased business as scores of sportspersons, tourists and dignitaries are expected to reach Amritsar Friday.

‘This is a big day and we will welcome it with true Punjabi enthusiasm and fervour,’ said Mahinder Gill, owner of roadside eatery Highway Junction.

‘We are expecting a good rush tomorrow and we have also planned to offer special discounts to our customers to mark this day,’ he added.

Amritsar’s deputy commissioner, K.S. Pannu, said the administration was fully geared up for the event.

‘All preparations have been done. We have once again overseen all the arrangements to avoid any untoward incidents. We will make sure that everything goes smoothly and there would be no inconvenience to the public,’ Pannu told IANS.

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