Security to be beefed up in Kashmir before poll: Antony

June 14th, 2008 - 10:59 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of ISRO

Bangalore, June 14 (IANS) The central government would beef up security in Jammu and Kashmir to thwart any attempt to disrupt the upcoming assembly election in the border state, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said here Saturday. “We are aware that there are forces inside and outside the country who do not want a fair, free and peaceful election in Kashmir, due later this year. Our assessment is there can be more attempts to infiltrate and cause violence in the run-up to the poll there,” Antony told reporters on the sidelines of a defence ministry function.

Assuring the Election Commission of providing logistical support to hold a free and fair election in Jammu and Kashmir, the minister said the democratic exercise would boost the confidence of the people.

“If we can facilitate a free, fair and peaceful poll by allowing the people to vote without fear or insecurity, we will be able to help to normalise the peace process in the troubled state,” Antony asserted.

The observation comes after five Border Roads Organisation (BRO) personnel were killed late Friday in an ambush by militants in Chatru area of Kishtwar district in Jammu and Kashmir and there were two grenade attacks in the state’s summer capital Srinagar Saturday.

“We must be prepared to face any eventuality. With the melting of the snow in the (Kashmir) valley, militants from across the border will attempt to cross over to foment trouble and disrupt the election process,” Antony noted after inaugurating a new complex of the state-run Defence Avionics Research Establishment (DARE) here.

On the newly set up integrated space cell, the minister said such a force would help the country face threats from any country, not just from those in the neighbourhood.

To be operated by the three armed forces in association with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the cell will protect Indian satellites and work to enhance their capability for both military and civilian use in an integrated manner.

Earlier, Antony advised defence scientists and the armed forces to reduce their dependence on foreign suppliers for cutting-edge technologies.

“Such a tendency may land the country and the armed forces in deep trouble at a critical time in the form of import curbs, technology denials or delay in the delivery of contracted systems or components,” he said.

With the nature and scope of potential threats ever changing, the need of the hour is to develop innovative and indigenous defence systems to counter such challenges.

“It is imperative we achieve the goal of modernising and equipping defence forces with cutting-edge technologies, but with least dependence on foreign assistance,” Antony added.

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