CHANDIGARH: Punjab has put its border districts on high alert in the wake of the Indian Air Force (IAF) surgical strikes across the Line of Control, undertaken by India as a retaliatory measure in the
aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack.
Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has ordered a spate of measures as part of the state’s preparedness to deal with any contingency in view of the latest developments. The DCs and SSPs of the border areas have been asked to put in place all contingency plans to ensure the protection and safety of residents.
As a confidence-building step, Amarinder would himself be visiting the border areas from Pathankot to Ferozepur by road on Wednesday, he said after a high-level law and order review meeting. The meeting found no need for panic and decided against any move to evacuate the residents of the border areas.
He discussed all aspects of the current situation with the top brass of the police and civil administration.
The CM’s media advisor Raveen Thukral, who was also present at the meeting, said Amarinder directed the officials to monitor the situation closely and not let down their guard under any circumstances. The state government was in touch with the Union home and defence ministries to remain abreast of the situation. The government was fully prepared to deal with any eventuality, Thukral added.
The Chief Minister, who spoke to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, on the situation, earlier tweeted his full support for the surgical strikes. “Great job by the #IndianAirForce. The #IAFStrikes have
sent the much needed signal to Pakistan and the terrorists it’s harbouring - don’t think you can get away with acts like the #PulwamaAttack. Bravo to the #IAF men and my full support for the action,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, an uneasy calm prevails in 220 border villages spread across six districts in Punjab, but there is no panic.
Residents of border villages are excited and say that India has given a befitting reply to Pakistan but the atmosphere is also tense as villagers believe they may be asked to evacuate at any moment. They recall that in 2016 also they were told to move back.
Talking with this correspondent, Surjit Singh Bhura, vice president of Punjab Border Kisan Union said, "Since morning the border gates have been sealed by the BSF and we have been told that we cannot go to our lands across the fence to do farming. There is a total of 21,300 acres of land across the fence which is cultivated by 15,000 farmers.’’
Shamsher Singh of Mendi village in Tarn Taran district which is surrounded by Pakistan from three sides says, "It is a wait and watch policy as we have a population of around 6,000 residents and after the air strikes the villagers are scared. The talk is that we might have to leave the village and go back if the
local administration at any given time tells us to evacuate.’’
"The people are talking among themselves about what will happen now as they are scared but there is no movement from the villages as it happened during the Kargil war and in 2016 when people were
told to move back,’’ says Harjinder Singh of Manawa village in Tarn Taran.