N-E infrastructure devt top priority: Antony

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New Delhi, Apr 6 (UNI) Union Defence Minister A K Antony today said infrastructure development in the North East was a top priority for the Government as it would not only contribute to the security of the nation but also accelerate growth of the region.

"In the past, required attention was not given to this region.

There is no point in finding fault with anybody. It's our topmost priority now to develop infrastructure in the North-East," he said addressing jawans on his maiden visit to Tawang.

The Defence Minister, who was accompanied by Chief of Army Staff Gen Deepak Kapoor, Defence Secretary Vijay Singh and other senior Ministry and Army officials on his two day visit to Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, reiterated the Government's commitment to the modernisation of the Armed Forces.

"Our overall objective is to provide you with the latest equipment, so that our Armed Forces continue to be one of the best in the world. Our endeavour will be to ensure the all-round welfare of Armed Forces personnel and their families. I wish to assure you that we will do whatever is humanly possible to give you the best," he said.

Recalling his long association with the North-East, Mr Antony said insurgency had neutralised some of the gains but expressed confidence in the ability of the Armed Forces to bring back complete normalcy in the region. However, he asked the Forces to achieve the goal without victimising the common man in any way.

As a visitor to the North East since the mid-1980s, he said the region and its people were really beautiful, but insurgency had often undone other achievements. Dealing with insurgents required high levels of patience, maturity and restraint.

Earlier, on his arrival at Tawang helipad, Mr Antony was given a warm traditional welcome by Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorje Khandu and several other dignitaries. He drove down to the Tawang War Memorial and laid a wreath there.

The 40-ft high multi-hued war memorial is dedicated to the martyrs of the 1962 Sino-Indian war and is nestled among picturesque snow-capped peaks overlooking the imposing Tawang-Chu valley.

The Memorial has names of 2420 dead soldiers etched in gold on 32 black granite plaques.

The Defence Minister has since returned to New Delhi.

UNI SD MSJ RN1959

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