J&K Bunkers

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh (center) and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti (left) during a press conference in Srinagar June 7. Also present is Union MoS PMO Jitendra Singh. (IANS photo)

JAMMU — Nearly 14,500 safety bunkers will be constructed in Jammu and Kashmir border areas for shelter in the event of Pakistani shelling of civilian areas on this side, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said June 8, capping his two-day trip to the state.

The home minister said the government would raise seven more India Reserve Battalions of special armed police in the state.

He announced an increase in the financial compensation to Rs 5. lakh from Rs. 1 lakh for people killed during cross-border firing on the International Boundary and the Line of Control. The amount will be directly credited to the next of kin’s account. This removes the condition of a fixed deposit account to receive the financial assistance. 

The minister said the government has also decided to increase to Rs. 50,000 from Rs. 30,000 the compensation for each animal killed during the border firing.

The home minister said the government was concerned about the safety of people living in border areas as Pakistani forces continue to engage in unprovoked firing and shelling on Indian areas.

To ensure their safety, 13,029 bunkers with the capacity to shelter 8-10 people and 1,431 community bunkers with the capacity to house 40-50 people will be constructed in the areas near the borders.

For this, he said, Rs. 450 crore was sanctioned. The minister said five bullet-proof ambulances will also be stationed permanently on the border areas to tackle emergency situations. 

He said five India Reserve Battalions will be raised with a 60 percent reservation for border residents. There will be two more female battalions – one each for Jammu and the valley. This, along with enhanced security, will also give direct employment to nearly 7,000 young men and women in the state.

Two of the battalions, the minister said, will be deployed to guard villages falling between 0-10 km from forward posts.

The minister also announced financial assistance of Rs. 5.5 lakh per family for west Pakistani refugees settled in the state since 1947. The decision will benefit nearly 5,764 families who have neither citizenship nor voting rights in Jammu and Kashmir.

These refugees cannot apply for state government jobs nor can they vote in Assembly elections. But they are eligible to vote in parliamentary polls.

Rajnath Singh said the government had decided to increase to Rs. 13,000 from Rs. 10,000 the monthly financial assistance for each Kashmiri migrant family living in Jammu and other parts of the country. 

"Once I reach Delhi, an order will be issued regarding the financial assistance to west Pakistan refugees settled in Jammu and Kashmir and the migrants," he said. 

Earlier, Rajnath Singh visited the R.S. Pora and Naushera borders areas in Jammu.

He also visited the northern Kashmir Kupwara district hours after militants attacked security forces some 20 km from the town where the home minister, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and Minister of State (Prime Minister’s Office) Jitendra Singh met people amid elaborate security arrangements.

Rajnath Singh flew back to Delhi in the evening, ending the visit to assess the security situation in the aftermath of the ongoing Ramadan ceasefire.

Amid speculations that the ceasefire would be extended beyond the Muslim month of fasting, Rajnath Singh said any decision regarding that would be made only after taking a holistic view of the state’s security scenario.

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