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'Marked improvement in Kashmir'

By Super

Chennai, Mar 18: Observing that proxy war and terrorism had taken a heavy toll over the last 16 years, Jammu and Kashmir Governor S K Sinha Lt. Gen (Retd) today (Mar 18, 2006) said there was marked improvement in the situation as average killings per day had come down from 10 in 2003 to two now.

Talking to reporters after reviewing a passing out parade at the Officer's Training Academy (OTA) here, he said guns were booming and bullets were flying in Srinagar when he assumed office as Governor in June 2003. 'Now, a feeling of normalcy is setting and it can be seen.' Gen Sinha said in the last 16 years, proxy war and terrorism had taken a heavy toll and had its effect on Kashmiri's tradition too.

However, despite all the change, things were improving and 'there are very healthy and good signs,' he said, adding a poetic quote, 'Paradise Lost will be Paradise Gained'.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had been holding discussions with various groups to bring an end to the Kashmir issue, he said.

he added Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, for his nationalistic views that had brought a 'breath of fresh air', in the state.

Speaking with a sense of optimism, Gen Sinha said hope had risen as the situation there had improved. 'Things are improving. We are coming out of the tunnel. There is hope and optimism in the state,' he added.

Gen Sinha said there was also significant improvement in influx of tourists to the valley. The number touched six lakh last year, he added. ''The number of tourists, which stood at 28,000 in 2002, crossed six lakh last year'', he said adding, it would be higher this year. Recalling his stint in Kashmir as an army officer more than five decades ago, he said 'it was a different sort of situation (then)'.

'My duty was to prevent the enemy, which had taken control of Baramullah from advancing further and to ensure security of Srinagar, which is vital for moving troops and supplies'', he added.

Earlier, he told young officers to keep abreast of scientific and technical developments that were bringing about a revolution in military affairs.

The role of young officers was more important now than in the past in view of the changed security environment, the Governor said.

''Global terrorism, especially bio and nuclear terorism, pose the new external threat,'' he added.

Though revolutionary change had taken place in the last 62 years since he joined the Army, Gen Sinha said the qualities required of a leader had not changed.

In all 296 cadets were formally inducted into the Indian Army today at the colourful parade.


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