Kashmiris told to set up nuclear bunkers

AUTHORITIES in Indian-controlled Kashmir have warned residents to be prepared for a possible nuclear war by building bomb-proof basements and collecting two weeks’ worth of food and water.

Local officials said the advisory notice issued this week was routine and did not signal new concerns about a nuclear attack in the region – repeatedly fought over by nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan.

A series of deadly skirmishes along the cease-fire line in recent weeks has heightened tensions between the two countries, and the timing of the advisory surprised many residents in Sri-nagar, the main city.

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“This is fuelling an atmosphere of fear. Educating people is fine, but not this brazen way,” said resident Fayaz Ahmed.

The notice, published on Monday by the Kashmir police in a local newspaper, advised people to build toilet-equipped basements big enough to house their families for two weeks. If there was no basement, residents should construct outdoor bunkers, the notice advised.

The shelters should be stocked with candles, battery-operated lights and radios, and stores of food and water should be regularly replaced to ensure they were fresh.

The notice said that during a nuclear attack, motorists should dive out of their cars towards the blast to save themselves from being crushed. “Expect some initial disorientation as the blast wave may blow down and carry away many prominent and familiar features,” it said.

Yoginder Kaul, inspector-general at the civil defence and state disaster response force, said: “We routinely educate people regarding natural and man-made disasters. This advertisement too was part of such a campaign.”