Pity the people of Kashmir. Days after a series of cross-border shootings left both Indian and Pakistani soldiers dead, police on the Indian side of the Line of Control have warned residents to prepare for nuclear war.
In an advert placed in an English language newspaper, police warned people in Srinagar to build underground bunkers equipped with toilets, collect two weeks’ worth of of food and water and ensure they have a supply of candles, torches and a radio.
“If the blast wave does not arrive within five seconds of the flash, you were far enough from the ground zero,” says the notice, headed Protection against Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Weapons, that appeared in the Greater Kashmir newspaper.
According to the AFP, local officials said the warning was part of a routine civil defence preparedness that are carried out throughout the year. But several local people said they were concerned that the advertisement was unnecessarily creating tension.
“This is fuelling an atmosphere of fear. Educating people is fine but not this brazen way,” Srinagar resident Fayaz Ahmed told the Associated Press.
The warning comes after the Indian and Pakistani armies agreed to halt cross-border firing that had threatened to unravel a fragile peace process in place along the so-called Line of Control since 2003.
The notice describes what might happen in the circumstances of a nuclear exchange and warns people to be ready for an initial shock wave. It advises people that they should then wait for the winds to die down and the debris to stop falling.
“Blast wind will generally end in one or two minutes after burst and burns, cuts and bruises are no different than conventional injuries,” it adds. “The dazzle is temporary and vision should return in few seconds.”
The advice also warned drivers that in the event of a nuclear strike they should dive out of their cars and towards the blast, lest the vehicle be thrown into the air and fall on them.
“Expect some initial disorientation as the blast wave may blow down and carry away many prominent and familiar features,” it says.
The advertisement also warned survivors to keep anyone exposed to the blast out of their shelters.
Police confirmed they issued the notice but said it “should not be connected with anything else”. Mubarak Ganai, deputy inspector general of civil defence in Kashmir police, added that the notice was part of “year-round” preparations.
Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan have fought four conflicts since partition in 1947. Two of them have been over Kashmir, which both countries claim as their own.