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Mostly normal life in Punjab border villages; no evacuation ordered

Mostly normal life in Punjab border villages; no evacuation ordered

Chandigarh: Even though there has been some anxiety in the past 24 hours among people living in border villages in districts of Punjab sharing international border with Pakistan, normal life was witnessed in villages on Wednesday.

Farmers could be seen attending to routine activities, including harvesting the sugarcane crop and tending to the wheat crop, amid heightened activity of the Border Security Force and Army troopers in view of the high alert sounded on Tuesday by the authorities.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh's media advisor Raveen Thukral tweeted on Wednesday: "No evacuations ordered from border villages in Punjab. Chief Minister is reviewing situation in the state with senior officials. He will tour the border areas from Chandigarh by road in view of air space restrictions."

Thukral told IANS that no evacuation has been ordered. He said the visit of the Chief Minister to the border belt, which was to begin from Wednesday, has been rescheduled to Thursday.

Amarinder Singh tweeted earlier that "we're absolutely ready for any eventuality" and that he has communicated to the Home Affairs Ministry that "Punjab is prepared to do whatever may be needed in the service of the country".

The Chief Minister will camp in the border areas of Punjab as part of confidence-building measures undertaken by the state government in the wake of the Indian Air Force (IAF) surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) on Tuesday.

A high alert was sounded in the border districts by the state government, which is in constant touch with the Union Home and Defence Ministries to stay abreast of the volatile situation arising from the strikes, undertaken by India as a retaliatory measure in the aftermath of the February 14 Pulwama terror attack.

"There is no tension among people in the border belt. We are ready for any eventuality. We will not leave our homes and villages," said Manjit Singh, a villager in the border belt in Amritsar district.

Amritsar Member of Parliament Gurjeet Singh Aujla visited a number of villages in Amritsar district's border belt to assure people that all security measures were in place.

"I have visited several villages. People are upbeat about the situation. There is no panic," Aujla said.

The border districts - Gurdaspur, Pathankot, Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Ferozepur and Fazilka - have been put on high alert following the IAF strike and their Deputy Commissioners and Senior Superintendents of Police have been asked to put in place all contingency plans to ensure the protection and safety of the citizens.

Punjab shares a 553-km-long international border with Pakistan which has barbed wire fence inside the Indian territory.

At different strategic locations, including installations, highways and border areas, Army troopers could be seen maintaining security.

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