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Security strengthened at vital installations in Punjab

Encounter in Kupwara

Amritsar/Chandigarh : Security has been strengthened at vital installations across Punjab and a high alert has been sounded at all airbases across the state following Army’s surgical strikes in PoK, even as evacuation of people residing in villages along the International Border continued.

High alert has been sounded on all airbases of the region, including at Chandigarh, Ambala, Bathinda, Adampur and Halwara near Ludhiana. Border Security Force (BSF) has put the International Border on further alert yesterday after the surgical strikes, officials said.

Security has also been strengthened at Bhakra Dam, with BBMB Chairman S K Sharma saying security arrangements at all dams was being reviewed considering the threat perception due to prevailing tension with Pakistan.

Security has also been strengthened in and around other vital installations, including oil refinery and important power plants in Punjab.

Punjab shares 553-km border with Pakistan. It has six districts which lie close to the International Border.

Meanwhile, evacuation of people residing in about 1000 villages within ten kilometres of the International Border continued following orders of the authorities.

Heads of local gurdwaras and temples, sarpanches and the police reached out to people using loudspeakers, asking them to start evacuation at the earliest in the light of escalating situation between the two countries.

The district administration in border districts has arranged for tents for evacuated people, cleared beds in the government hospitals and makeshift shelters have been set up in schools and marriage palaces.

Amritsar’s Deputy Commissioner Varun Roojam said all necessary arrangements had been put in place to cater to the needs of those being evacuated.

In villages falling in Gurdaspur and Ferozepur districts, administration has created several rehabilitation camps for residents of border villages.

Schools in the border areas have been shut till further orders and leaves of police and medical personnel cancelled, officials said.

SGPC, the apex religious body of the Sikhs, has announced every possible help to the evacuees.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had yesterday chaired an emergency meeting of his Cabinet and directed Chief Secretary Sarvesh Kaushal to immediately release Rs one crore each to all the Deputy Commissioners of six border districts as “preliminary expenditure.”

Asking people “not to panic”, Badal had said, “All preventive arrangements have been made in the border areas.”

Yesterday, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Badal over phone to request him to immediately start the process of evacuation of the people residing in the villages falling within ten kilometres of the International Border.

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