SRINAGAR, India, Jan 23, 2013 – The top elected official in Indian Kashmir on Wednesday described a public advisory telling residents to prepare for nuclear war by building basement shelters as a “daft idea”.
The State Disaster Response Force in a notice this week urged people to build shelters to prepare for a potential nuclear conflict in the disputed region, which has been on edge after deadly border clashes between Indian and Pakistani troops.
“What a daft idea!!!” Indian Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said in a post on micro-blogging website Twitter, referring to the advisory which appeared in a local English-language newspaper. The notice instructed residents in the Himalayan region to build toilet-equipped underground shelters “where the whole family can stay for a fortnight” and said the bunkers should be stocked with non-perishable food.
A ceasefire took hold last week in the territory after India and Pakistan agreed to halt cross-border firing that threatened to unravel a fragile peace process between the nuclear-armed nations, but tensions remain. State civil defence authorities in Kashmir confirmed that they had issued the notice on Monday but said it “should not be connected with anything else”, in an apparent reference to the recent border flare-up. The advisory was part of regular year-round civil defence preparedness, Mubarak Ganai, deputy inspector general of civil defence in the Kashmir police force, told AFP.
India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over the divided territory. Each country controls a part of the region but claims it in full. The notice in the Greater Kashmir daily vividly described a nuclear war scenario to prepare residents to deal with “the initial shock wave”, telling people to “wait for the winds to die down and debris to stop falling”.
“If the blast wave does not arrive within five seconds of the flash, you were far enough from the ground zero,” it said.