India on Tuesday lodged a “strong protest” with Pakistan over detection of cross-border tunnel along the international border in Samba sector of Jammu and Kashmir.

“A strong protest was lodged late this afternoon by BSF with its counterpart Pakistan Rangers over detection of a tunnel in the Indian territory from Pakistan along the International Border (IB) in Samba sector of Jammu and Kashmir,” a senior BSF official told PTI.

A strong protest note with evidence was also handed over to Pakistani authorities at a flag meeting at Octroi Border Out Post (BoP) along IB in R S Pura sector of Jammu district, he said.

BSF authorities have passed on to them pictorial evidence of the tunnel which is coming in straight alignment from Pakistan to Chichwal border village via Chilyari post from Lumbriyal post in Shakergarh sector of Pakistan.

Senior BSF officials and Pakistan Rangers held a flag meeting at the Octroi BoP around 1500 hours.

Authorities had on July 28 detected a 400 meter-long tunnel into India from Pakistan along Indo-Pak Border in Samba district of Jammu and Kashmir.

The tunnel was detected after an area caved-in in a straight line at some places due to rains near fencing close to Chillayari BoP of BSF along the IB. The tunnel had been dug between two sides along IB on India’s Chillayari BoP and Pakistan’s Lumberiyal BoP.

Fear loomed large on the faces of locals in the border area here after the detection of a 400—m long cross—border tunnel in Samba sector.

“The detection of the tunnel into our Chachwal border belt has created fear among our people. Our people have spent sleepless nights after its detection...,” villager Parveen Singh told this PTI correspondent in Chachwal border.

With a population of over 2,000 villagers, Chachwal hamlet is located barely one kilometre from International Border and 65 km from Jammu city.

“We have never seen such a tunnel even during the peak of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir or even at the height of the border conflict,” he said.

Like Parveen, Lumderdar Som Singh said “our fears have doubled after the detection of the tunnel in our paddy fields. Authorities are yet to find out details of the tunnel.”

Another villager, Harnaam Singh, said the locals want the authorities to ascertain that there were no more other tunnels in their area.

He remarked villagers have seen cross—border shelling and firing, infiltration of militants from Pakistan and subsequent encounters in past but this new design appears to be more dangerous.

The tunnels have been dug open at two—three places which poses more threat to them, Mr. Harnaam said.

Incidentally, it was a Class XII student, identified as Sukhdev, who first noticed that his farm land had caved in some places and subsequently informed BSF.

Authorities had then on July 28 dug out the tunnel at a depth of 25 ft below the ground level along the Indo—Pak border in Samba district of Jammu and Kashmir.

People living close to the international border in Jammu sector had similar story of fear gripping them.

The villagers of Gallar, Kukrenwala, Garkhal, Pargwal, Chinore farm, Abdullian, Suchetgarh, Jabowal, Korotana also fear the presence of such tunnels in their areas. They demanded that BSF personnel carry out survey of their areas.