Ground situation in J

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New Delhi, Apr 28 (UNI) Defence Minister A K Antony today said the ground situation in Jammu and Kashmir had shown signs of improvement with incidents of violence going down significantly.

''The incidents of violence in the state has registered a significant drop. The relatively peaceful conditions have created a conducive environment for the Assembly elections due to be held later this year,'' he told the Army Commanders' Conference here.

Mr Antony said this had been made possible mainly due to the commendable dedication, sacrifices and commitment of the Army.

He referred to the recent decision of the Government to increase the payment of rentals in the state from 2.1 times to 5 times for various categories of land.

The Defence Minister asked the top commanders to ensure that timely relief was given to the people for their legitimate dues.

''This will surely go a long way in accelerating the return of peace and normalcy in the state,'' he added.

Referring to the North-East, Mr Antony said the Government accorded top priority to the development infrastructure in the region. ''Latest infrastructure will not only enhance the security and defence preparedness of the region and the country, but also accelerate the economic growth and welfare of the region.'' He said the general situation in the North-East had shown a marked improvement and was by and large peaceful.

Recently, elections were successfully conducted in some states, the Defence Minister said, adding this indicated a yearning for peace among the local people.

He said the role of Army in countering Naxal violence was limited. The Army had provided assistance to states by setting up counter terrorism institutions and by a mechanism of 'training the trainers,' Mr Antony added.

He said the task lay clearly in the realm of state police forces, the central police organisations and paramilitary forces and they must develop the requisite capacity and efficiency to deal with the menace effectively.

However, the Defence Minister they must benefit from the Army's immense experience and expertise in these areas.

UNI AG SY KP1833

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