NEW DELHI, India, April 26, Reuter: Indian engineers have begun putting up a Barbed wire fence along the border between the northern state of Punjab and Pakistan to check arms smuggling and infiltration by Sikh freedom fighters.

Officials said on Tuesday that cover the next three months 1,200 men will stretch a fence and concertina wire coils along the frontier.

New Delhi accuses Pakistan of sheltering and arming Sikhs fighting for a separate state in Punjab. Islamabad denies the charge.

In the mounting violence, more than 700 persons have been killed so far this year.

This has prompted calls from politicians and Hindu groups for the border to be sealed.

The fence will cover the 120km (75 mile) frontier along the Ravi and Sutlej Rivers will not be fenced.

India has already built ditches p to one km from the border and deployed thousands of paramilitary troopers at checkpoints.

But the land between the ditch and the border is farmed and dotted with houses providing cover for trespassers, officials say.

A Pakistan embassy spokesman in New Delhi said he had no comment on the fencing.

Article extracted from this publication >> April 29, 1988