AMRITSAR: The fencing work along the 170 kilometer International border with Pakistan in Punjab has come to a standstill following the kidnapping of two contractors for ransom by the freedom fighters near Budhianwali border outpost in the Khemkaran sector on January 17. Panic-stricken workers and contractors suspended the work for an indefinite period, giving a setback to the 18 crore project scheduled to be completed by the end of December.

In telegrams to the Union Home Minister and the Punjab Director General of Police, the contractors said they would not resume work until adequate security was provided to them. Nearly 70 contractors engaged in the fencing work in the Ajnala, Khemkaran. and Rangian sectors in Amritsar and in the Dehra Baba Nanak sector in the Gurdaspur district met here following the kidnapping. incident. The payment of ransom. ‘was no answer as they were working under the shadow of fear, they said.

The kidnapping drama allegedly by members of the Babbar Khalsa, who were demanding a ransom of 50 lakhs, ended last night when Mehar Singh, who was kidnapped three days ago, was freed after his relations paid rupees 5 lakhs to the freedom fighters. A number of contractors told newsmen that the freedom fighters in the border areas had posted posters asking them to stop work or face dire consequences. Meanwhile the central P.W.D. engineers said work of putting up flood lights on the fence in the Ranian, Khera Karan and Mamdot sectors was in progress. The suspension of work would further delay the completion of the fencing project.

Article extracted from this publication >>  January 27, 1989