Thursday, September 29, 2016

Govt directs Punjab to evacuate border dwellers

CHANDIGARH: With six districts of Punjab sharing boundaries with Pakistan, the Centre has asked the state to evacuate people residing in villages within 10 kms of IB in the wake of the "surgical strikes" carried out by India on terror launch pads across the LoC last night.

The ceremonial beating retreat ceremony at Attari border has also been closed for public today, officials said.

The schools in the border areas have also been asked to remain shut until further orders, they said.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has put the entire government and political machinery in an emergency mode, an official spokesman said here.

"The Chief Minister has summoned an emergency Cabinet meeting in Chandigarh in the evening," Punjab Cabinet Minister Sikander Singh Maluka told PTI.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Badal over telephone today to request him to immediately start the process of evacuation of the people residing in the villages falling within 10 kilometres of the International border in view of the escalating situation, the spokesman said.

Badal has directed the Chief Secretary and DGP to ask the concerned Deputy Commissioners (DCs) and Senior Superintendents of Police (SSPs) to oversee the entire evacuation process in the border districts of Ferozepur, Fazilka, Amritsar, Taran Tarn, Gurdaspur and Pathankot.

The Chief Minister directed the DCs to identify suitable locations for setting up camps and ensure that none of the residents being evacuated were put to any sort of inconvenience, the spokesman said.

Badal also personally spoke to the Cabinet Ministers and MLAs concerned to camp in these border districts and to keep close liaison with the district administration to ensure safe movement of residents.

The Chief Minister also directed the Chief Secretary to immediately release Rs one crore each to all the Deputy Commissioners of six border districts to meet out any exigency.

The emergency meeting was attended by Chief Secretary Sarvesh Kaushal, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister S K Sandhu, DGP Suresh Arora and Special Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Gaggandip Singh Brar.

Meanwhile, Amritsar Deputy Commissioner Varun Roojam said border residents in Amritsar district have been asked to remain vigilant and prepare for any eventuality.

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