Even as the evacuation orders along the International Border are yet to be rolled back, normalcy seems to be returning in the region with people starting to move back to their villages.
Even though the five relief camps set up by the Amritsar district administration did not receive a single family, many people living in border villages had moved to their relatives’ homes in safer places. Now, even the relief camps set up in Tarn Taran, which were receiving people, are getting vacated fast, with people moving back home.
The Tarn Taran administration had set up as many as 12 camps in the district. As the evacuees were not ready to stay at the camps, only six — at Jhabhal, Bir Baba Budha Sahib (Thattha), Gagobuha, Bhikhiwind, Pahuwind and Bainkan —were made operational.
Deputy commissioner Balwinder Singh Dhaliwal said: “A few evacuees were present at these camps till Tuesday, but now hardly anyone can be seen at the camps. The harvesting season is one of the reasons behind their return to their villages.”
“Even as there is no evacuee in most of the camps, the government staff will be remain there till any directions are issued. We will see for another day or so before closing the camps,” he said.
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) also claimed that residents of border villages in Punjab, who were uprooted from their homes following tensions along the Indo-Pak border, were returning home.
“The villagers feel the atmosphere back home is conducive enough for them to return. Moreover, they are concerned about their ripening crop, livestock and property,” said SGPC additional secretary Daljit Singh Bedi.
Bedi said in Tarn Taran, the SGPC had set up 22 relief camps outside the 10-km border belt zone. Those in these camps are now moving back to their villages, and the situation is the same in Pathankot, Gurdaspur and Fazilka districts as well.
Amritsar DC Varun Roojam, too, admitted that people have started moving back to border villages.
SCHOOLS REOPEN, BUT ATTENDANCE LOW
After remaining closed for around a week, government schools in border villages opened on Wednesday. However, the attendance at these has been low.
“The attendance is quite thin in all schools after resumption of studies. For instance, out of 800 students, only 125 turned up at the Government Senior Secondary School in Gagobuha village on the first day,” said Parmjit Singh, district education officer (secondary), Tarn Taran, who was overseeing the relief camp set up at the school.
RETREAT CEREMONY: BAN NOT LIFTED YET
The district administration has not lifted the ban on entry of visitors during the evening retreat ceremony at the WagahAttari border.
The ceremony was closed for spectators ever since the orders of evacuation were passed last Thursday. Though the Border Security Force allowed 300 people on Sunday, but a stone was thrown at the Indian gallery from Pakistani side, making the situation even tenser. Since then, no spectators have been allowed. “We will soon conduct a security review and take a call on lifting the ban,” said Amritsar deputy commissioner Varun Roojam.