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Punjab on maximum alert, villagers near border told to move

Chandigarh, Sep 29 (IANS) Punjab was on maximum alert on Thursday while villagers close to the border with Pakistan have been told to move to safer locations following Indian “surgical strikes” across the LoC.

“Punjab is in a state of maximum alert,” Harcharan Bains, the advisor to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, said here.

He said appropriate steps were being taken to ensure the safety of people in the border areas with Pakistan.

Bains said the state cabinet would meet on Thursday evening, to be chaired by Badal, to take stock of the situation and take appropriate action.

The Punjab government has ordered the evacuation of villages in a 10-km belt along the border with Pakistan following the surgical strikes by the Indian Army across the Line of Control.

The union Home Ministry on Thursday directed the Punjab government to get the border villages evacuated.

Local authorities used loudspeakers of gurdwaras to announce to residents in the border villages to leave their homes and villages and move to safer zones.

All schools and other institutions in the border belt have been ordered shut. All leave of Punjab Police and medical personnel in the border areas has been cancelled.

Punjab’s border districts include Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Tarn Taran, Ferozepur, Faridkot, Abohar and Fazilka.

Informed sources said the Border Security Force (BSF) was mobilizing its troops and strengthening the security along the border.

Punjab shares a 553-km border with Pakistan.

The BSF has cancelled the Retreat ceremony at the Attari-Wagah border joint check-post (JCP) at Attari, 30 km from Amritsar, officials said.

The BSF and district authorities have asked visitors and tourists not to move towards Attari for the ceremony on Thursday. It is not clear when the ceremony will resume.

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