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Amarinder visits border villages, welcomes release of Wing Commander Abhinandan

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Press Trust of India Taran Taran
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh visited some border villages in the state in the wake of prevailing tension as he welcomed Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's announcement that captured IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman will be released terming it a "goodwill gesture", according to an official statement.
Amarinder was interacting with BSF personnel at the Khalra observation post during his visit to instill confidence among the residents in the wake of tension between India and Pakistan.
"The Pulwama attack by the Pakistan-backed terror forces was an act of cowardice, necessitating retaliation by India," he said.
He, however, expressed hope that normalcy would return at the border soon.
On Imran Khan announcing release of the captured Wing Commander, Amarinder said the "goodwill gesture" would help ease the prevailing tensions, the release quoted him as saying.
Earlier, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced in Parliament on Thursday that Varthaman would be released on Friday as a "peace gesture".
The Chief Minister extended all support from his government to the BSF to deal with the current situation. "We are there for you," he told the BSF personnel.
A nostalgic Amarinder, himself an ex-serviceman, recalled his own days in the sector in 1965, when he was with the Indian Army, and said he still remembers the 22 days spent in the region.
During his tour of the Tarn Taran region to assess the ground situation, 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.
During his interaction with the residents, he urged them to remain calm and not to be swayed by rumours.
Assuring the people at Mastgarh village, two km from the International Border, Amarinder reaffirmed his commitment to ensure the safety and security of every citizen.
The Chief Minister, who had lunch with them, urged them to guard against "manufactured hysteria" and not get waylaid by rumours.
"The Punjab government stands shoulder-to-shoulder with you in this critical hour," Amarinder told the residents at Kals village, urging them not to panic.
Earlier, he also visited the 14th BSF Batallion Headquarters at Khemkaran, whose personnel are stationed along the international border, and was briefed about the overall defence preparedness by IG (BSF) Mahipal Yadav.
He was assured that the forces were fully prepared to thwart any untoward activity from across the border.
In Taran Taran, interacting with the bereaved family members of the Sukhjinder Singh, who was killed in the Pulwama attack, the Chief Minister extended his condolences and assured all possible support and assistance.
The Chief Minister, on his arrival at Ghariala village in Taran Taran district earlier, took stock of situation and was briefed by top police and administrative brass.
He asked officials to work in coordination to convince border residents not to leave their homes in panic and hold meetings of village panchayats and prominent local residents to instill a sense of confidence.
Singh also impressed upon the residents not to be swayed by the false propaganda and desist from rumour-mongering.
The Chief Minister said he was in constant touch with the Centre and keeping a tab on the situation.
Meanwhile, in an informal chat with the media, the Chief Minister said that during his visit to the border villages, he found the morale of the people and forces very high.
He said he had met officials and personnel from the Army and the BSF.
They are well-prepared to deal with any situation that may arise in the wake of heightened tension between the two nations, he said.
"I've already instructed officers to visit the areas tomorrow and resolve complaints relating to absence of teachers and doctors in schools and hospitals," he said.
The Chief Minister was accompanied by DGP Dinkar Gupta, besides some of his party MLAs from the border constituencies.

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First Published: Feb 28 2019 | 9:11 PM IST

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