Punjab evacuationPunjab was on maximum alert as the authorities today launched an exercise to evacuate those residing in villages near the International Border in view of the escalating tension between India and Pakistan, with Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal saying they will ensure “minimum inconvenience” to people.

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“I have directed the officials that villagers should face minimum inconvenience in the process of evacuation,” Badal said here this evening after chairing an emergency meeting of his cabinet in the wake of Indian Army’s surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the LoC.

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He said all schools situated within a distance of 10km from the border have been closed till further orders.

“I have asked my MLAs to help people in the evacuation process from villages,” he said.

He directed Chief Secretary Sarvesh Kaushal to immediately release Rs one crore each to all the Deputy Commissioners of six border districts as “preliminary expenditure”.

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Asking people “not to panic”, Badal told reporters here “all preventive arrangements have been made in the boder areas.”

He said leaves of officials have also been cancelled.

Earlier, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Badal over telephone to request him to immediately start the process of evacuation of the people residing in the villages falling within 10 kilometres of the International Border in view of the escalating situation.

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Badal directed the Chief Secretary and DGP Suresh Arora, who were present in the meeting, to ask the Deputy Commissioners (DCs) and Senior Superintendents of Police (SSPs) concerned to oversee the entire evacuation process in the border districts of Ferozepur, Fazilka, Amritsar, Taran Tarn, Gurdaspur and Pathankot.

The Chief Minister directed the DCs to identify suitable location for setting up camps and ensure that none of the residents being evacuated was put to any sort of inconvenience or hardships.

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Badal asked Cabinet Ministers and MLAs to camp in these border districts in which their Assembly constituencies fall, to keep close liaison with the district administration to ensure the safe movement of the residents of the villages within the close proximity of the International Border.

The emergency meeting of state Cabinet this evening reviewed the entire situation in the wake of recent developments on the border and advisory issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.

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Meanwhile, Punjab Council of Ministers hailed the “apt, timely and effective surgical operation undertaken by the Indian Army across the Line of Control in J&K last night against terrorists and those providing support to them.”

The Council of Ministers lauded Prime Minister Narnedra Modi for “decisively ordering” this surgical operation to demolish the bases and camps of those acting with impunity against our citizens.

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“The operation has been executed with clinical and professional precision by the brave men of the Indian army,” the cabinet said.

“We deem it our sacred duty to take every step required to protect and safeguard life and property of our citizens living in these border areas,” it said.

The entire state government machinery is geared to function most sensitively and effectively round the clock at the service of the people to ensure that these brave and patriotic Punjabis are put to minimum inconvenience and discomfort, Badal said.

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The Council of Ministers appealed to the people of Punjab to remain united and vigilant against the enemy and keep their calm and composure in the lofty traditions of patriotic fervor and selfless service.

Kaushal said that authorities have earmarked schools, community centres, marriage halls and gurudwars to keep the evacuated people.

“All earmarked places will have electricity, generator facility, doctor and ambulance besides food,” he said.

Besides, police will be kept at villages which are evacuated.

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He said that 300 villages have been affected in Ferozepur, 60 in Fazilka, 135 in Tarn Taran, 137 in Amritsar, 290 in Gurdaspur and 65 in Pathankot.

Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab Sukhbir Singh Badal congratulated Modi for successful surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the LoC, calling the strikes a “befitting reply to Pakistan”.

Interacting with mediapersons after unveiling the statue of Mother Teresa during a function here at Airport Road, Badal said the entire nation is with the Prime Minister “in his bold decision to ensure the sovereignty and security of the country”.

“The strikes conveyed a clear cut message to all that India would retaliate in the same manner as adopted by its neighbouring country,” said Badal.