Antony to pay two-day visit to Kashmir

June 17th, 2008 - 7:44 am ICT by IANS  


New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) Defence Minister A.K. Antony will pay a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir from Tuesday to study the ground situation in the wake of reports that infiltration attempts from across the frontier had increased. This will be his third visit to the insurgency-hit state in the last 12 months.

A high-level delegation comprising Defence Secretary Vijay Singh, Indian Army chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor and special secretary in the home ministry M.L. Kumawat will accompany the minister.

On Tuesday, Antony will hold talks with civilian and military officials in Kashmir’s summer capital of Srinagar and will be briefed on the security scenario in the state by the heads of the Northern Corps and the 15 Corps, a defence ministry official here said Monday.

On Wednesday, he will visit the forward areas in northwest Kashmir before returning to New Delhi the same evening.

“The minister will also focus on the extra security arrangements being made for the assembly elections that are due later this year,” the official said.

Addressing the Unified Commanders Conference here June 10, Antony had warned that forces within the state and outside would attempt to disrupt the democratic process.

“We will have to keep a constant vigil and intensify our efforts to ensure conduct of free and fair elections in an atmosphere of peace,” the minister said.

He also noted that the situation in Kashmir, as also in the northeast, “has shown signs of improvement due to the commitment and dedication of our armed forces and the paramilitary forces.

“There is, however, a need to extend such synergy in functioning to counter the activities of independent modules that have linkages to terrorists in Kashmir and to international terror networks,” Antony added.

During his visit, Antony will also examine the progress made in implementing the new norms laid down for acquiring land and buildings to meet the operational needs of the armed forces and on paying higher rentals for these properties.

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