In the midst of the confusion and uncertainty in border villages since the evacuation announcement, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal sanctioned Rs 10 lakh to Ghonewal for the long-pending demand for a stadium, and promised Rs 3 lakh for an entry gate when he visited the Amritsar village.
Ghonewal is less than one kilometre from Indo-Pak fencing, and falls in Ajnala constituency . Badal went all out to inform people about the relief camps set up by his government and other measures taken after an advisory issued by Centre on Thursday to evacuate the border villages in a 10-kilometre radius.
“We have set up relief camps and you can avail of this facility anytime. Let me know if you have any other demand,” said the CM in his speech at Ghonewal. He emphasised that the government’s objective was to inform as many people as possible about the relief camps rather than “pushing” them to go to the camps.
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Relief camps in border districts have received lukewarm response from residents of border villages. Badal visited 10 border villages in Amritsar with the lowest response, apart from villages in Tarn Taran districts Sunday. There is no increase in security for the Punjab CM when he travels to these border villages, which the government says are unsafe for people now due to the threat of a retaliation from Pakistan to the Indian surgical strike.
When asked for how long the Punjab government would keep advising people to stay away from border villages, CM said, “It is up to the Centre. Evacuation was initiated after an advisory from the Centre and it will take a decision about taking it back.” He alleged that opposition parties were “unnecessarily” questioning the move.
He said the BSF had been told to allow farmers to harvest their crops and farmers can inform deputy commissioners in case they face any problem related to it.
Meanwhile more than 100 families have returned from the relief camp at Bath Sahib Gurdwara in Pathankot district. Manager of the gurdwara, Jagdish Singh, said, “Around 1,000 villagers had come to this relief camp. Now, people have started returning to their villages. Around 100 such villagers returned today.”
Similarly, people in border villages of Tarn Taran, Gurdaspur and Amritsar who had shifted to relief camps have also been returning to their homes.
*Badal faces protests
The CM also faced protests the government’s ‘inaction’ in the cases of desecration of holy books. In Mehdipur village of Tarn Taran district Sunday, protesters showed black flags to Badal. Later, as the CM concluded his speech at Mehdipur village around 7 pm, some Sikh youths raised slogans against him and the state government.