— In Indian Kashmir, officials have advised residents about how to cope with a possible nuclear attack. But they say the advice is not connected to recent tensions along the cease-fire line that divides Kashmir between nuclear armed rivals India and Pakistan.
The advisory, published in a Kashmiri newspaper, Greater Kashmir
, asks people to build either underground bunkers in their front yards or toilet-equipped basements big enough to accommodate all members of the family. It tells residents to periodically stock these with non-perishable food, candles, battery-operated lights and radios.
The notice, titled “Protection against Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Weapons,” gives other details on how to cope with such attacks.
Among other things, it warns of an initial disorientation after such an attack, and advises residents about how to deal with the initial shock wave.
Yoginder Kaul, Kashmir’s inspector general of the Civil Defense and Disaster Response Force, says the advertisement is part of a routine disaster management campaign meant to educate people. He said it does not signal any concerns about a possible nuclear attack.
"I had issued some public awareness, regarding natural disasters and man-made disasters. And in that, one of the components is this also -- nuclear/biological. People should be aware, what are the dos and don'ts regarding floods, earthquakes, because our force has been created to minimize losses, human losses, loss of property also,” Kaul explained.
Kaul says the awareness drive came on the first anniversary of the disaster response force and has been blown out of proportion.
Political observers said that happened because the advertisement came days after clashes between India and Pakistan along the cease-fire line that divides Kashmir.
It was the worst between the two armies in nearly a decade, and erupted after two Indian and three Pakistani soldiers were killed in skirmishes.
But those tensions have calmed. Last Thursday, the rivals agreed to halt the cross-border firing. However, many Kashmiri residents, worried about the tensions, were surprised by the timing of the advisory.
The beautiful Himalaya region is no stranger to war. It is heavily armed on both sides, and two of the three wars fought by the nuclear armed rivals have been over Kashmir.