Badal justifies border evacuation; blasts Congress, AAP

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Chandigarh, Oct 6 (IANS) Justifying the evacuation of villages along Punjab’s international border with Pakistan, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Thursday blasted the Congress and the AAP leaders for criticising the move.

Asserting that his government “fully implemented the directive of the Government of India on the security-driven issue of pre-emptive civilian evacuation and relocation in border areas”, Badal said that Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders had stooped so low as to question a decision that was taken considering security implications for the border population.

In a letter to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Badal said that Congress leader Amarinder Singh and AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal were “deliberately making mischievous statements on sensitive issues of border security”.

Badal’s response came at the end of a three-day visit to all six border districts in Punjab.

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Following a directive from the Union Home Ministry, the Punjab government had ordered evacuation of villages located within 10 km of the international border with Pakistan. This was done to pre-empt any retaliation from Pakistan after the Indian Army carried out surgical strikes across the Line of Control in Kashmir on last Thursday.

“This is an unpardonable sin as the Congress and the AAP leaders are treating our soldiers’ sacred zeal and heroic deeds to mere fodder for their petty politicking. Only three voices in the entire world have treated the border evacuation and the surgical strikes with suspicion. One of these three voices belonged understandably to Pakistan and the other two belong to Kejriwal and Amarinder,” an upset Badal wrote in the letter.

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Badal said that “decisions on whether or not to reveal evidence on surgical strikes and when to execute pre-emptive civilian relocation are issues to be decided on highly professional grounds”.

“This is highly tactical and strategic decision to be taken by the Government of India on the advice of the security forces. That is how it (evacuation) has been done here too. It is not for the state governments to decide on whether or not or when to execute pre-emptive relocation,” he said.

“We fully realise that border-evacuation is a security-driven decision with tactical, strategic and professional military considerations. The security forces are the best qualified to take a call on such decisions. Accordingly, such issues are handled all over the world through a broad national consensus on strategic considerations,” Badal said in his letter.

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