Army to provide adequate forces for Jammu and Kashmir polls

October 25th, 2008 - 6:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Oct 25 (IANS) The Indian Army would provide whatever forces are required by the Election Commission (EC) to conduct peaceful assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir next month, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said here Saturday.”We will provide forces as per the request of the EC as we want free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections in the border state,” Antony told reporters at a news conference at the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) airfield.

Earlier this week, the EC had announced it would conduct polls in seven phases across the northern state beginning from Nov 17 and ending Dec 24. Counting of votes and results are Dec 8.

“Though the entire election process will be completed by December 31, we are leaving nothing to chance. EC will conduct the polls, while the state police will supervise law and order. The armed forces, including securitymen, para-military forces will be provided by us,” Antony said.

The staggered polling exercise for the 87-member state legislature will be held Nov 17 (10 seats), Nov 23 (six seats), Nov 30 (five seats), Dec 7 (18 seats), Dec 13 (11 seats), Dec 17 (16 seats) and Dec 24 (21 seats).

“Constant vigil, high alert and intense patrolling are being maintained across the international border to check infiltrations and movement of suspicious elements,” Antony added.

The defence minister was on a day’s visit here to review projects and progress made by state-run defence undertakings.

The minister watched a flying display of intermediate jet trainer (IJT), advanced light helicopter (ALH) called Dhruv and jet trainer aircraft Hawk, despite inclement weather and an overcast sky.

Sudden downpour and poor visibility prevented the light combat aircraft (LCA) from taking off.

Antony, who was accompanied by Indian Air Force chief, Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major, and Defence Research and Development Organisation Director General S. Natarajan, was also taken around the tarmac by HAL chairman and managing director Ashok K. Baweja for a closer view of the aircraft and copters at a static display.

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