Amritsar : There has been no gunfire, no alert sirens and no fighter jets dropping bombs. It is not war time yet but tens of thousands of villagers in Punjab’s border belt with Pakistan are already experiencing a war-like situation.
Over 400,000 people in Punjab’s border belt, comprising Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Ferozepur, Gurdaspur, Pathankot and Fazilka districts, have been evacuated from their homes to “safer areas”. Residents in nearly 1,000 villages in these districts have been ordered by the authorities to evacuate following escalation of tension between nuclear neighbours India and Pakistan after the Indian Army carried out surgical strikes at the Line of Control (LoC) on Thursday night.
“We loaded a lot of our belongings and household articles on our tractor-trolley. We have not yet decided where we will go. But we have to move out. The standing crop in our fields has to be harvested within the next 10 days. We hope this situation eases out soon,” farmer Sardul Singh of Amritsar district told IANS.
Punjab shares a 553-km international border with Pakistan. The entire border is maked by an electrified barbed wire fence. The Sikh holy city of Amritsar, which lies only 30 km from the international border, too seemed to be prepared for any eventuality, including war. Hospitals in the border districts have been asked to keep some beds in emergency wards vacant for any contingency. The leave of police personnel, medical staff and others maintaining emergency services have been cancalled.
In some of the border villages which are located across the rivers in the border belt, Border Security Force (BSF) and Indian Army personnel could be seen ferrying people, including children and the elderly, and their belongings to safer areas on Thursday and Friday.
(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)