Punjab stares at a potential crisis with the Centre directing the evacuation of thousands of people from villages within a 10-km radius of the international border with Pakistan.
Farmers could suffer heavy losses with the harvesting season already on and ripened paddy in fields. Providing alternative accommodation for such a large number of evacuees, with essential amenities such as toilets and medical care, is posing a challenge for the government.
Voices of dissent have already emerged. Punjab Congress president, Capt Amarinder Singh, on Thursday cautioned against creating panic along the border by asking people to move out. He said such measures are not really required at this stage. "We did not evacuate people, up to 10 km of international border, during the 1965 War," he said, adding this was uncalled for.
Capt Amarinder said the harvesting season was already on as the paddy had ripened. It is an ill-advised move on the part of the government, whether the state or the Centre, to ask the villagers to vacate their homes at this time and that too when there are no arrangements in place for their stay. "Where will they go, where will they live, what will they eat and what will happen to their crops?" he asked.
"Please don't try to create war refugees without, or at least, before the actual war," he warned. Reliving memories of the 1965 war, he said, he had seen people harvesting their crops amidst shelling between the two armies.