Chandigarh: Despite ongoing tension at India-Pakistan border in Punjab, farmers in the state's border belt with Pakistan would be allowed to harvest their paddy crop, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has said.
A spokesman of the chief minister's office said on Sunday that Badal has taken up the matter with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh so that necessary directions are issued to the Border Security Force (BSF), which manned the 553-km long international border in Punjab, and other security agencies to allow border area farmers to harvest their crop.
The paddy crop in the state is almost ready for harvest. Harvesting is to take place within the next 10 days.
Over 400,000 people in nearly 1,000 villages in Punjab's border districts were on Thursday asked to evacuate in view of apprehension of retaliation from Pakistani side after Indian Army carried out surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC).
The villages affected due to evacuation are in the districts of Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Tarn Taran, Ferozepur, Pathankot and Fazilka.
Many villagers in some districts refused to leave their homes saying that they need to tend to their crops, cattle and properties and would not leave. In some other villages, the men folk have stayed back for the same reason.
"Crops are as dear to the farmers as their children and they cannot bear this loss at any cost. Badal has taken up this issue with Rajnath Singh, who had immediately directed the BSF to allow the farmers of border region to harvest the crop.
"The Government of India has also allowed the farmers having their land across the fence to reap and lift their crop," the spokesman said.
A number of farmers in the border belt have their agricultural land across the barbed wire fence, which was erected in the early 1990s, where they cultivate crops under vigil of the BSF.
The barbed wire fencing has been erected 500 metres to one km inside the Indian territory.
Badal, who toured border villages on Saturday, said the state government has evacuated the population from border regions following an advisory of the central government.
"It was necessitated for avoiding any sort of major loss to life and property of people. In such situations, the enemy could make any move and could not be trusted. As border villages of Punjab are densely populated, as compared to other states like Rajasthan, it is necessary to evacuate the people for ensuring their safety," Badal said.
Congratulating Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indian Army for conducting successful operation and destroying terror launch pads in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), Badal said the Modi government gave an apt answer to the neighbouring nation for its sinister moves of supporting terror groups against India.