Tarn Taran (Punjab), Feb 28 (IANS) Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday welcomed Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s announcement on the release of the captured IAF officer, terming it “a goodwill gesture that would help ease the prevailing tensions at the border”.
Interacting with Border Security Force (BSF) personnel at the Khalra observation post during a tour of border areas in Tarn Taran district as part of his confidence-building measures for residents, he said that “the Pulwama attack by Pakistan-backed terror forces was an act of cowardice, necessitating the retaliation by the Indian government”.
Amarinder Singh, however, hoped normalcy would return soon at the border.
The Chief Minister extended all support on behalf of his government to the BSF to deal with the current situation in the aftermath of the IAF strikes on a Jaish-e-Mohammed camp in Pakistan’s Balakot.
“We are there for you,” he told the BSF personnel.
A nostalgic Amarinder Singh, who served as a captain in the Army in the 1960s, also recalled his own days in the sector in 1965.
“I found the morale of the people and forces in the border areas very high. I met officials and personnel from the Army and the BSF and they all were well prepared to deal with any situation,” he told media.
During his tour, the Chief Minister interacted with residents of at least 15 border area villages, including Shaheed Baba Tara Singh Wala, Rajoke, Kalia Shatara, Dholan, Lakhna and Kals and urged them to remain calm and not to be swayed by rumours.
Assuring the huge crowd that had gathered at village Mastgarh, just two km from the International Border, to see him, the Chief Minister reaffirmed his commitment to ensure the safety and security of every citizen.
Having lunch with them, he urged all to guard against manufactured hysteria and not get waylaid by rumours.
“The Punjab government stands shoulder to shoulder with you in this critical hour,” he told the residents in village Kals, urging them not to panic.
Earlier, he also visited the 14th BSF Battalion headquarters at Khemkaran and was briefed about the overall defence preparedness by Inspector General, BSF, Mahipal Yadav and assured that the force was fully prepared to thwart any untoward incident from across the border.
Interacting with the bereaved family of Pulwama martyr Sukhjinder Singh of Tarn Taran, the Chief Minister extended his condolences, assuring them of all possible support and assistance.
On his arrival at village Ghariala in Tarn Taran earlier, he took stock of the situation and was briefed by top police and administrative brass regarding the prevailing situation and measures taken for the security of citizens.
He asked the civil and police administration to work in coordination to prevail upon the border residents not to leave their homes in panic but to jointly hold meetings of village panchayats and prominent local residents to instil a sense of confidence.
Amarinder Singh also impressed upon the residents not to be swayed by the false propaganda and desist from rumour-mongering in the prevailing situation.
He said that he was in constant touch with the Centre and keeping a tab on the situation.
Six border districts – Tarn Taran, Amritsar, Ferozepur, Gurdaspur, Fazilka and Pathankot – fall on the state’s 553-km-long border with Pakistan.