Saturday, December 22, 2001, Chandigarh, India





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
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Panic grips border villages
Residents moving to safer areas
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service


Residents of border areas (Khemkarn sector) move to safer places following heightened tension in the region. — Photo by Rajiv Sharma

Khemkaran (Amritsar), December 21
Residents of the border area close to Zero Line have started shifting to safer areas after the army build-up across the international border. Their Pakistani counterparts who reside close to the border have also been seen shifting elsewhere.

Even though the BSF and elders of Mehndipur, Kalsh and Machhiwala villages which are a few yards from the border, have urged the villagers on the public address system in gurdwaras not to shift, it has little impact on their plans.

It may be mentioned here that during the Kargil conflict areas adjoining the border had witnessed large-scale migration. However, Mr Bakshish Singh, nambardar of Kalsh village said he had moved his household items alone though many had shifted women-folk and children to safer areas.

However, the morale of residents of Chogawan, Attari, Chawinda, Rattangarh, Ranike, Rangarh and Roranwali remains high. They say they will help the Army and the BSF in case of a war.

The announcement of recall of the Indian High Commission from Pakistan and the suspension of Samjhauta Express and the Delhi-Lahore bus has created an alarm in the region. Border villagers see this as a prelude to war.

Similar reports have been received from Gurdaspur areas. Residents of Ghania Bet are particularly alarmed at the movement of the Army on both sides of the border.

Poor farmers have sold wheat and paddy bags stocked in their homes and other valuables to pay for transport charges.

Villagers feel the state government must come to the rescue of poor residents of border areas by providing them with transport facilities so that they can shift their families and household items to safer areas. “The poor should not be left to face bombardment every time”, they say.

Meanwhile, the Indian Army deployed at the border in Gurdaspur detained two persons near Aluna village in Dorangla sector. Mr Lok Nath Angra identified the accused as Shah Alam and Nassem Hussain, both residents of Narayan Ganj under the Gopal Teena police station in Bangladesh.

Mr Angra said they had been sent to a joint interrogation centre at Amritsar.

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