Cross-border Support To Kashmir Militants Continuing, Says Antony
2 November 2007
New Delhi: Cross-border support to militants operating in Kashmir is continuing unabated, despite the ceasefire on the India-Pakistan border, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said here on Friday. However, violence was down by 50 per cent, compared to the previous year, despite militants continuing their activities in the Valley, he said. Mr Antony was addressing journalists at the Coast Guard District Headquarters at Fort Kochi after the force's investiture ceremony, in which medals for distinguished service and gallantry were given to its personnel.Asked about troop-reduction in Jammu and Kashmir, he said the government was trying to find a solution to the 'genuine' demands and grievances of the people of the State. 'I held two rounds of discussions with the people concerned and many more are on the anvil. We have taken many important decisions like consulting the Army and paramilitary forces on the issue of vacating some civilian buildings, which are now in their possession. Paying heed to complaints from farmers and others, it has also been decided to substantially hike the rent on land being used by security forces. The troops will, in a phased manner, withdraw from guest houses, playgrounds, etc,' he said. Referring to reports of Chinese forces crossing the border in some places, Mr Antony said this could be because the border was not clearly demarcated. 'But we are certain that Arunachal Pradesh, to which the Chinese have laid claim, is an integral part of India. We have mechanisms between the border forces of the two countries and diplomatic channels to defuse situations that turn serious. The special representatives of the Prime Minister and those of the Chinese government have held 11 rounds of discussions to find an amicable settlement to pending issues,' he said. Modernisation spree Asked about the delay in procuring artillery pieces, aircraft and ships, he said the defence forces of neighbouring countries were on a modernisation spree. 'We have accorded topmost priority to modernise our forces. But speedy modernisation cannot be at the cost of transparency in arms purchases. We are very particular about transparency and it is non-negotiable.'