SRINAGAR: Officials in Indian-controlled Kashmir are warning residents to build bomb-proof basements, collect two weeks' worth of food and water and be prepared for a possible nuclear war.
Local officials did not answer calls asking why they were suddenly concerned about a nuclear attack in the region, repeatedly fought over by nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan. However, a series of deadly skirmishes along the cease-fire line in recent weeks has heightened tensions between the two countries.
The notice, published Monday by the Kashmir police in the Greater Kashmir newspaper, advised people to build toilet-equipped basements large enough to house the entire family for two weeks. If there is no basement, residents should construct bunkers in their front yards, the notice advised.
The shelters should be stocked with candles, battery-operated lights and radios and nonperishable food and water that is regularly replaced to ensure it is fresh, it said.
During an attack, it advises drivers to dive out of their cars toward the blast to save themselves from being crushed by their soon-to-be tumbling vehicles. It also warns residents to keep contaminated people out of their shelters.
“Expect some initial disorientation as the blast wave may blow down and carry away many prominent and familiar features,” it advises.
While authorities did not return phone calls for comment, Yoginder Kaul, inspector-general at the civil defense and state disaster response force, told the newspaper that it was a “normal exercise to raise general awareness among (the) public about disaster management.”
“It has nothing to do with anything, and it should not be connected with anything,” Kaul said.
Both India and Pakistan claim the divided Kashmir region in its entirety and have fought two wars over it.
Earlier this month, three Pakistani soldiers and two Indian soldiers were killed in the worst bout of fighting in Kashmir since a cease-fire accord was signed by the countries in 2003.
In light of the violence, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Sunday he was reviewing future ties with Pakistan.
The nuclear war advisory and its timing surprised many residents in Srinagar, the main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
“This is fueling an atmosphere of fear. Educating people is fine but not this brazen way,” said Fayaz Ahmed, a local resident.
The lengthy notice also provided advice on how to survive attacks with chemical and biological weapons.
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