On Monday, a day before Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s visit to the border areas in Jammu, Pakistani troops reportedly came close to the Line of Control in the Keran sector and forced Indian labourers and contractors to stop work on a model village.

Highly placed defence sources revealed to The Hindu that according to the residents a group of five to seven armed Pakistani soldiers came close to the model village sites on a river bed in Keran and forced the labourers stop some works.

The workers later brought the “threat” to the notice of an Army unit which rushed to the spot but did not find Pakistani soldiers there. They observed three flags and boards across the river claiming that the area belonged to Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir and no work should be carried out there.

The works that were stopped related to children’s park, community centre and reading room.

Sources said that the Army was taking up the matter with the police and civil administration before initiating any action on its own.

Deputy Commissioner of Kupwara Itrat Hussain Rafiquee confirmed to The Hindu that he had received a radio message from the Station House Officer of Keran, who said Pakistani troops had put up three flags and boards across the Kishen Ganga river, known as the Neelum in PoK, laying claim to the strip close to the ‘zero line’.

He said the workers had taken some machines and concrete mixers on the river bed to start the day’s work when they were forced to stop it. “We are developing a park on the barren river bed on our side of the LoC,” Mr. Rafiquee said.

On Wednesday, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah will visit Karnah, close to the Keran sector, to address a public meeting and inspect the work on a subdistrict hospital at Tangdhar. Officials said the matter would be discussed with him.

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