Nearly 15 lakh people from 1,000 villages along the Line of Control in Punjab are being evacuated and sent to the state’s other districts after the Indian Army said on Thursday that it had conducted “surgical strikes” along the Pakistan border. Of the villages affected, 300 are in Ferozepur district, 137 in Amritsar district, 65 in Pathankot, 60 in Fazilka, 165 in Tarn Taran and 290 in Gurdaspur, NDTV reported.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said they started the evacuation process on Thursday morning after we were informed about the tactical strike. “The Union home secretary has informed us of the possibility of retaliation. We have activated the state disaster management committee.” He added that camps are being set up and “all preparations are in place”.

According to The Times of India, Army officials said there was no specific known threat to these areas, but the evacuation was a precautionary measure. Several residents chose to move to the homes of their relatives, while others had the option to go to camps the state has set up in schools, community centres and marriage halls. Police personnel and medical staff have been asked to forfeit their leave to help with the evacuation process and maintain a vigil, Badal added. Schools within 10 km of the international border have been ordered shut.

The India-Pakistan border in Punjab runs for 553 km. Army convoys were seen moving into the areas and the state was given the highest alert status. The Border Security Force has also called its troops in to action and the Retreat ceremony between the armies of the countries at the Wagah border checkpoint has been cancelled.

The Army's announcement on Thursday came as tensions between India and Pakistan reached their peak. While the Army said the strikes were based on intel on specific threats and limited to "terror launchpads", Pakistan dismissed the army's claim and said India was inflating existing conditions of "cross-border firing".