On the campus of Sant Kabir ITI in Fazilka were trolleys loaded with household items. A cow was tied to a tree, villagers rested on cots, and children played or cried. The college, closed until further orders, is now a relief camp.
But of the 270 people it accommodated from a number of villages, many either returned home later in the day or said they would go back soon. More than twice that number have stayed back in any case.
Said Piyar Kaur, who is in her 60s, “You are asked to pack your bags and leave your homes within three hours . How can anybody decide what to take along and what to leave behind at such short notice?” And Bimla Rani of Mohar Khewa said, “We who have come are 14 members of three families. As many families are staying back. Who will take care of our animals?”
Kulwant Kaur’s four-month-old son was crying. “He is feeling out of place. He misses his father and grandfather back home.”
In a camp for villagers of Theh Kalandar, Laluwala and Chuarwala, one resident said, “Since nothing has happened, we may go back to our homes by tomorrow.”
In Amritsar, too, few went to relief camps and those who did wanted to return. At a camp at Bhakna village, no one had arrived till evening . “We hope we will get some guests towards the evening. We will stay here even if two people come,” said Amarjit Singh, nodal officer.
In the hall of Gurdwara Baba Bhuda in Satha village of Tarn Taran, 200 villagers are taking shelter. “Who wants to live in a relief camp? We will go back to our homes as soon as this trouble ends,” said Gurbachan Kaur.
Attari MLA Gulzar Singh Ranike, an SAD minister, said, “People are not ready to leave their villages. We had been
trying to convincing them to come to relief camps. But most of them have been staying home and sending women and children to their relatives. Thus we have decided to provide them food at their homes as there are no women to cook.”