Officials in Indian-controlled Kashmir are warning residents to be prepared for a possible nuclear war by building build bomb-proof basements and collecting two weeks’ worth of food and water.
Local officials said the advisory was routine, though it was the first time it had been published in a newspaper. They said it 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 Srinagar, the main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
“This is fueling an atmosphere of fear. Educating people is fine but not this brazen way,” said resident Fayaz Ahmed.
The notice, published Monday by the Kashmir police in the Greater Kashmir newspaper, advised people to build toilet-equipped basements large enough to house their entire families for two weeks. If there is no basement, residents should construct bunkers in their front yards, the notice advised.
The shelters should be stocked with candles, battery-operated lights and radios, it said, adding that stores of nonperishable food and water should be regularly replaced to ensure it is fresh.
The notice said that during a nuclear attack, motorists should dive out of their cars toward the blast to save themselves from being crushed by their soon-to-be tumbling vehicles.
“Expect some initial disorientation as the blast wave may blow down and carry away many prominent and familiar features,” it advises.
It also warns residents to keep people contaminated by fallout out of their shelters.
Yoginder Kaul, inspector-general at the civil defense and state disaster response force, said the advisory was part of a normal campaign to educate the public, and the information has been available on a government website for some time.
“We routinely train and educate people regarding different natural and man-made disasters and that’s our duty. This advertisement too was part of such a campaign. Please, let’s not read into this beyond that. Let it be clear that this is purely in the nature of educating people and not connected with anything else,” he said.
Both India and Pakistan claim the divided Kashmir region in its entirety and have fought two wars over it.
Earlier this month, three Pakistani soldiers and two Indian soldiers were killed in the worst bout of fighting in Kashmir since a cease-fire accord was signed by the countries in 2003.
In light of the violence, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Sunday he was reviewing future ties with Pakistan.