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Gurdaspur attack: Five killed as terror attack shatters Punjab calm

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Dinanagar: At least five people were killed and 10 injured when heavily-armed terrorists wearing army fatigues hijacked a car, drove down to this town in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district, peppered the bus stand with bullets and then stormed a police station — shattering two decades of calm in the state.

Authorities said that five people were killed in the terror attack, while unconfirmed reports said the toll may be higher.

“So far reports of five deaths including three civilians and two police personnel confirmed from Gurudaspur. Operation is still on,” tweeted Press Information Bureau in Delhi.

Three home guard personnel who were inside the police station were among those feared killed. Other victims were civilians, including a person inside an adjoining hospital.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that he had spoken to director general of Border Security Force (BSF) D.K. Pathak and instructed him to step up the vigil on India-Pakistan border in the wake of attack in Gurdaspur.

Special forces of the army and NSG as well as police commandos took up position around the Dinanagar police station.

This was the first major terror attack in Punjab following the assassination of then chief minister Beant Singh on August 31, 1995.

Monday’s attack began at 5.30 a.m. at Dinanagar town in Punjab’s frontier district of Gurdaspur, close to the India-Pakistan border and near the border with Jammu and Kashmir state.

A gun battle raged between the terrorists, holed up inside the Dinanagar police station, and security forces, including soldiers. Continuous sound of firing and lobbying of grenades could be heard even hours after the first shots were fired by the militants.

The police station, adjoining government hospital, residential quarters inside the police station and nearby private houses were quickly cordoned off by security forces.

Minister of state for home Kirren Rijiju told IANS in Delhi that “as of now there is no information regarding hostages being held. We are looking into it and once I get some more information, I will come out with it”.

The terrorists, numbering four, are believed to have come from Pakistan. They arrived in a Maruti 800 car which they had hijacked after firing at the driver and killing a person in a dhaba nearby. They also fired at people near the Dinanagar bus stand and then attacked the Dinanagar police station, located about 100 metres away.

Eyewitnesses said the terrorists fired on a bus going towards Jammu and later entered the police station.

“We were hit by a burst of gunfire suddenly. I was hit on the shoulder. They are firing indiscriminately every five minutes,” a Punjab police official, who was injured in the attack, told media as he was being taken to the hospital.

The town is about 15 km from the India-Pakistan border and 25 km from the border of Jammu and Kashmir state. It is about 235 km from Chandigarh.

Additional Director-General of Punjab Police, Dinkar Gupta, told media the “attack took the Dinanagar police by surprised”.

Army and police reinforcements were rushed to the spot.

Punjab Police sources said the incident indicated may be a suicide attack.

The attack took place just a day after Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal faced pro-Khalistan slogans while attending a function at Punjab University in Patiala.

In a related development, five live bombs were found on the Amritsar-Pathankot railway track.

The bombs were found by passersby on a bridge near Parmanand railway station on the Amritsar-Pathankot railway section, who informed security forces. Trains on the route were stopped immediately.

A major railway tragedy was averted as the bombs were carefully wired to the railway track at a small bridge near Parmanand railway station, five km from Dinanagar. A police spokesman told media that the army bomb disposal unit had defused the bombs.

A train, which was to pass on the railway track, was stopped just 200 metres from the spot where the bombs had been planted.

(IANS)

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Heroin worth Rs. 100 crore seized by BSF in Punjab

22kg heroine was recovered during a combat between Pakistani smugglers and BSF troopers

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22kg heroin seized in Punjab
BSF recovers heroine worth Rs. 100 crores from Pakistani smugglers. Wikimedia Commons.

In a joint operation, Border Security Forces (BSF) troopers and the Punjab Police have recovered 22kg of heroin in Punjab’s Ferozepur sector following exchange of fire with Pakistani smugglers near the international border, a BSF officer said on Saturday.

The encounter took place late on Friday following a tip-off that smugglers were trying to send heroin consignment into India.

At least one Pakistani smuggler was injured in the exchange of fire as blood stains were found during search of the area on Saturday, BSF officer D.S. Rajpurohit said.

The BSF recovered a pistol and one Pakistani Sim card.

The BSF also arrested three Indian smugglers who were waiting close to the border fence to collect the heroin consignment.

The smugglers were trying to smuggle the heroin consignment using a plastic pipe across the border fence.

The heroin is worth nearly Rs 110 crore in the international market.

The Ferozepur border is around 275 km from here.

Punjab shares a 553-km-long barbed-wire fenced international border with Pakistan. (IANS)

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Indian Farmers reason behind Smog in Pakistan

Smog in Pakistan has affected the health of people but also caused road accidents.

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Indian Farmers causing smog in Pakistan
Indian Farmers causing smog in Pakistan. wikimedia commons
  • Pakistani officials have said that stubble burning by Indian farmers has caused a thick blanket of smog in Punjab province which led to smog in Pakistan as well.

The officials with Environment Protection Department of Punjab province told Xinhua news agency on Saturday night that the smog is causing various diseases and the provincial government is taking measures to control the situation.

The department’s minister Zakia Shah Nawaz Khan said that the smog engulfed the province for the last two weeks, and is feared to continue for the coming week.

She added that the smoke from the Indian farms moved at a velocity of 7 to 8 km per hour towards Punjab province.

Also Read: Restrictions on Freedom of Expression: Pakistani Journalists Struggle with Growing Threats from Government and Militants alike

Local experts said that the total Air Quality Index in the provincial capital of Lahore is 357 whereas the maximum limit should be around 100, adding that if the situation was not controlled, the level is feared to exceed 500 soon.

Syed Mubashir Hussain, an official of the environment department said that the provincial government has banned stubble burning across the province and violators were being arrested.

A total of 197 First Information Reports have been filed against violators and 65 people have been arrested due to stubble burning and solid waste burning.

Some 175 pollution-causing units have been stopped. About 15,718 smoke emitting vehicles have been confiscated, and a total of 43 lakh Pakistani rupees (about $43,000) fine has been imposed, Hussain told Xinhua.

Apart from this, brick kilns using substandard fuel and running their units without emission control devices like wet scrubbers, electrostatic precipitators and fly ash arrestors have also been closed, he added.

Smog in Pakistan has not only affected the health of people but also caused road accidents. According to local media reports, at least 18 people have been killed and 45 others injured in separate fog-related accidents across the province.

Air traffic was also affected due to smog-caused low visibility. Six domestic flights from various airports have been suspended due to smog in Pakistan, spokesperson of Pakistan International Airlines said in a statement.

The Met office said that smog will disappear after rains or heavy winds, but there was no possibility of any of it in the next 48 hours.( IANS)

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Be a farmer on weekends at Citrus County Hoshiarpur

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Wheat field in Phagwara Punjab India. Wikimedia

Hoshiarpur, Oct 2, 2017: Punjab is better known for India’s “green revolution” in agriculture and for contributing the maximum foodgrain to the national kitty. And now a progressive horticulturist and entrepreneur is offering hands-on experience to visitors to try their hand at how farming is actually done.

“Be a farmer on weekends at Citrus County — Hoshiarpur. Get your kids to the farm to give them a unique experience in a typical farm in Punjab. Let then come and indulge in plucking fruit and sowing vegetable seeds in the fields on their own.” This is how Harkirat Ahluwalia, owner of the Citrus County farm resort, puts it.

“We are offering guests, especially children, first-hand experience of doing farming. This is something that people have never tried before. The experience gives them the satisfaction of doing hard work and experiencing what life is like in the countryside,” Harkirat, who along with his wife Jasveen runs the resort, about 140 km from Chandigarh, told IANS.

The guests at the farm can sow seeds, pluck citrus fruit, plough the fields, milk cows, drive a tractor and take a ride to a nearby forest and rivulet in a tractor-trolley.

Fresh home-cooked food, which is prepared on earthen stoves at the ground level, home-grown organic vegetables and warm hospitality add up in equal measure to make the experience a refreshing one.

“Glamping”, or luxury tenting, as Harkirat puts it, is also part of the farm experience.

The nine air-conditioned tents at Citrus County, with attached bathrooms, offer luxury stay with king-sized beds in the midst of the sprawling orchards of kinnow (a citrus fruit) and tall poplar trees.

Also Read: Indian Agriculture status, Importance & Role In Indian Economy 

The farm resort is located in Chaunni Kalan village, five km short of Hoshiarpur on the Hoshiarpur-Chandigarh highway.

“Cycling enthusiasts are welcome to get their wheels along and we will provide them the best possible tracks,” said Harkirat, who is a post-graduate in Mass Communication from Panjab University and himself a cycling and biking enthusiast.

In the past, the resort has seen couples from other countries going through wedding rituals the Indian way to give them a real-time feel of the country’s culture and marriage ceremonies.

The unique thing in couples opting for the Indian-style wedding is that they are already married and are middle-aged or even older. The couples are accompanied by their friends, relatives and even children and grandchildren for this unique experience. (IANS)