Border Residents Told To Stay Indoors Or Move To Relief Camps On Diwali

21 October 2014
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria

Jammu: This Diwali, over 120 villages and hamlets all along the 198-km-long international border may wear a deserted look. Following Intelligence inputs, an alert has been declared all along the Indo-Pak borders in the state asking the security forces to remain in a state of preparedness and respond in equal measure to any mischief by Pakistani forces. 'An alert has been sounded on the border and shelter sheds besides relief camps are there for border villagers to take refuge in the event of Pakistani firing or shelling,' said Jammu Deputy Commissioner AK Sahu. Sahu said the administration had advised border residents not to venture out during night on Diwali. 'The situation remains unpredictable. Hence, we have asked them (villagers) that if something (firing) starts, they should immediately move into camps,' he added. The DC said that if needed, more camps could be opened within no time. Kathua Deputy Commissioner Shahid Iqbal Choudhary said: 'In view of Diwali, an alert stands issued in Kathua district. Moreover, we would be sending villagers from Zero Line villages and hamlets to their homes only after Diwali.' These villagers are currently housed in relief camps. Samba Deputy Commissioner Mubarak Singh said that last time (when Pakistan had flared up the border from October 1 to 12) there were 22 relief camps. 'If something happens this time (Diwali), we are prepared to handle the situation. Some of the camps are still functional with border residents returning to them before every sunset,' he added. Singh said that things as of now looked under control but the administration was fully prepared to tackle any situation. 'We suspect that Pakistani forces could open firing on our villages on Diwali. So it's better to stay back in relief camps,' said Ujagar Singh of Chandu Chak village in RS Pura. Surjeet Kumar of Pindi Charkan village in Arnia subsector said going by the nightmarish experiences earlier this month, it would be foolish to stay home on Diwali night. 'My family and I have already decided to move into a relief camp and celebrate Diwali in whatever way we can,' said Kumar.