Beginning Saturday, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal will kick-start a four-day tour of six border districts to personally monitor the arrangements being put in place for people evacuated from the border villages in the wake of Indian Army’s Wednesday midnight surgical strikes inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
People living within 10km distance along the 553km international border from Fazilka to Pathankot in about 1,000 villages are being shifted to safe locations in coming days.
Sources say on Saturday Badal will visit Pathankot and Gurdaspur villages where camps have been set up besides villages close to the border. On Sunday the CM will tour camps and villages in Amritsar and Taran Tarn and on Monday he will take stock of arrangements in Ferozepur and Fazilka districts.
“Even as the chief minister is unwell, he himself wants to see if proper arrangements are in place for the evacuated people. The objective of his tour is to express solidarity with the security forces and to reassure displaced villagers that the government will make every possible arrangement to help them,” a close aide of the chief minister said.
‘FARMERS CAN ENTER FIELDS ACROSS FENCE’
Badal spoke with Union home minister Rajnath Singh on Friday evening and informed him about concerns of border farmers, whose movement near the fence has been restricted by the Border Security Force (BSF).
The border village farmers own land that is near or across the fence and the paddy crop is ready for harvest. The BSF, due to security reasons, has stopped farmers’ entry across the fence to harvest paddy. Also, people have been stopped from entering within five-acre belt along the fence on the Indian side.
“The home minister agreed with the concerns Badal aired and took up the matter with the BSF chief. The BSF chief has told the Punjab government that farmers will be allowed to enter their fields across the fence under the BSF security cover,” said the CM’s aide.
The CM also urged Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee chief Avtar Singh Makkar to supervise the SGPCrun “langar” facilities for the evacuated people. The SGPC will depute its managers in other districts and wherever the religious body is providing “langar” in the camps being set up for the displaced villagers.