BAHAWALPUR: The stage is set for the 19th edition of six-day Cholistan Jeep Rally kicking off on Tuesday (today) in the desert on the boundaries of three districts of Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar and Rahim Yar Khan.

Over 100 racers, including some women, from across the country are expected to participate in the event that would continue from Feb 20 till 25.

The venue of the rally is near the Dilwash Stadium around the historic Derawar Fort while its route measures about 500km. The inaugural ceremony will be held at the newly-constructed Bahawalpur Gymkhana on Tuesday evening where the trophy would also be unveiled. The entry to Bahawalpur Gymkhana for the inaugural function has been restricted for only the invitees.

Dawn learnt the divisional and district administrations, headed by Divisional Commissioner Dr Ehtasham Anwar Mahaar and Bahawalpur Deputy Commissioner Zaheer Anwar Jappa, in coordination with Tourism Development Corporation of Punjab (TDCP) secretary Raja Jahangir Anwar have made elaborate arrangements and set up a tent village for the visitors and drivers of the jeep rally.

The administration and TDCP officials claim that the best facilities will be provided to thousands of spectators expected in the desert during the six-day rally.

A number of events, including sports and camel and goat dances, are also a part of the plan. Bahawalpur Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) President Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali Maan, in coordination with Islamia University Bahawalpur (IUB), is organising a trade fair and setting up a food court at the rally venue.

In the trade fair, the projects of the IUB students would be displayed along with the stalls of industrial and business organizations, depicting the local industries.

The rally drivers and jeep owners would move to the TDCP resort in Cholistan on Feb 21 (Wednesday) for registration, technical inspection of their vehicles, medical examination and a drivers’ conference. The qualifying round would be held on Feb 22, followed by the regular jeep rally on Feb 23 and 24 while a cultural night programme would also be held the same night (Feb 24). Dirt bike and truck races have also been planned for Feb 25 before the final round of the prepared category and women category races prior to the prize distribution ceremony at night.

Regarding the security during the rally’s six days, Regional Police Officer (RPO) Bahawalpur Rai Babar Saeed said the security would be on high alert to ensure safety of the participants, organisers and visitors and police personnel from three districts of the division would perform duties.

Bahawalpur DPO Syed Abbas Shah said over 2,000 personnel of police, Dolphin Squad, Elite Force, Special Branch and traffic police had been deployed for security.

Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2024

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