WAR HYSTERIA GRIPS AREAS CLOSE TO BORDER WITH PAK

Indian Army soldiers keep guard on top of a shop along a highway on the outskirts of Srinagar on September 29. (Reuters)
Indian Army soldiers keep guard on top of a shop along a highway on the outskirts of Srinagar on September 29. (Reuters)

AMRITSAR (TIP): Panic gripped the border belt of Amritsar district sharing boundaries with Pakistan following the evacuation orders announced through public address system on September 29.


KEY NUMBERS
38: Estimated number of terrorists killed in the launchpads in Pak-occupied Kashmir.
12.30-4.30am: The time taken for the mission.
1-3km: Distance beyond the LoC that the soldiers in the surgical strike had to traverse.
WHY
The strikes were India’s first direct military response to the attack on the Uri army base earlier this month that
killed 18 Indian soldiers and was blamed on Pakistan based militants.

THE TARGET
The strikes aimed at “neutralising the terrorists” had caused “multiple casualties”, officials said. An official said troops
killed militants numbering in the double digits, and that no Indian soldier was killed.
Most of the casualties were “terrorists”, said a source, insisting India had not been targeting the Pakistani army.
An army official based in Kashmir said two Indian soldiers were wounded while returning from the raid – one stepped on a
landmine and another was shot.

Nation is united against terrorists
This is a strong message that conveys our country’s resolve to prevent further infiltration and attacks on our security forces and our people.
– Sonia Gandhi, Congress president

It showed the army’s determination and will to ensure the nation’s security.
– Sharad Yadav, Janata Dal (United)

Today’s strikes signal the rise of a new India where the government desn’t get cowed down by nefarious designs of terrorists.
– Amit Shah, BJP preside

Bharat Mata Ki Jai. The entire country is with the Indian Army.
– Arvind Kejriwal, Aam Aadmi Party convener

Situated just between 700 and 1,000 meter from the Indo-Pak Border, the residents of Ranian, Daoke, Kakkar, Dharial, Chak, Dharia, Pandhori, Bachiwind, Kawe and Manj villages said the existing situation reminded them of the wars of 1965, 1971 and Kargil.

Amritsar DC Varun Roojam met the police and administrative officials to discuss further plan of action following orders of evacuation within 10 km radius of the international border. All schools have been shut and residents have been asked to move to safer places.

Bir Kaur, 75, said: “We had been uprooted thrice in the past. Now, that our families are hardly self-reliant, the same ‘unpleasant’ evacuation orders have been issued to displace us.”

Ranian village sarpanch Kehar Singh said: “I have received no information from the administration about the alternative arrangements made to take care of the families of my village. After it was announced that the village should be vacated, people started feeling terrorized and I am helplessness.”

Harbhej Singh, member in charge of Kakkar village, said the youth had decided to stay back. “This is sheer injustice. Whenever any border area development scheme is announced, we are ignored but when there’s a crisis we are the first ones to be displaced,” he said.

In Jammu and Kashmir, as tension mounted on the border after India conducted surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) on Wednesday night, the J&K Government asked people living in the vulnerable places on the international border (IB) and the LoC to move to safer zones.

According to official data, 48,543 families, which live close to the LoC and the IB, had to be given shelter in the wake of shelling from across the border in 2013 and 2015. A total of 457 villages covering 4,51,856 people are located at the IB and the LoC in Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Poonch and Rajouri districts of the Jammu region. Deputy Commissioner, Jammu, Simranjeet Singh said 40 to 45 vulnerable hamlets along the IB had been identified in Jammu district only. “We have informed the inhabitants of these villages to move to safer places,” the Jammu Deputy Commissioner said, adding that the residents of these villages always bear the brunt of border tension.

Kathua Deputy Commissioner Ramesh Kumar also confirmed that the evacuation of the people living in vulnerable areas had been started. “We have already identified vulnerable villages and the residents have been asked to move to safer places,” said Kumar. Around 50 vulnerable villages have been identified in Kathua district. Kumar said the authorities had already prepared a plan to evacuate other villagers to safer places within 30 minutes in case the situation worsened further.

People of a border village in Amritsar leaving for a safer place on September 29. PTI
People of a border village in Amritsar leaving for a safer place on September 29. PTI

Deputy Commissioner, Samba, Sheetal Nanda said the authorities were keeping a strict vigil on the situation. “We have already prepared a contingency plan to evacuate the people at the time of the crisis,” Nanda said. Deputy Commissioner, Poonch, Haroon Malik, while confirming that a contingency plan was already in place, said the authorities had initially asked people living within the radius of 2 km of the LoC to remain alert. “We have already formulated a plan to evacuate people within no time in case of any eventuality,” Malik said.

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