February 2008 News

Situation peaceful in J&K: Antony

4 February 2008
The Daily Excelsior

NEW DELHI: Government today ruled out deployment of Army to contain rising naxal violence in the country, saying the forces’ hands were already full. 'I am totally opposed to Army being moved against naxal elements', Defence Minister A K Antony said, adding 'Army cannot be used against everything....The forces are already coming in aid of civil authorities'. 'Army should be called in only as a last resort', the Minister said in reply to questions on a sidelines of a Defence Financial Controllers’ conference here. However, Antony said the forces would not shy away in containing the menace and were already providing logistic support and training to police forces of naxal-affected States. 'Taking on the naxalites is the role of the police forces and whenever need arises para- military forces can be deployed', the Defence Minister said. On recurring mishaps involving naval warships and submarines, Antony said 'naval authorities had been asked to take necessary precautions to ensure that accidents do not happen as weapon platform come at a premium price tag'. He described the deaths of sailors on board the Navy’s latest acquisition INS Jalashwa as 'tragic and sad'. 'Though preliminary reports suggest that the deaths occurred due to gas leaks', the Minister said investigations were on to unravel the cause of the mishap. Asked about the reasons behind the recent spate of accidents involving naval warships - sinking of INS Prahar off the Goa coast and recent collision between the kilo class submarine and a merchant ship off Mumbai coast, the Defence Minister said these were all being probed. He said recently navy had initiated a programme to upgrade the technical skills of its personnel in view of the top grade technology being inducted as part of its modernisation drive. Turning to cross-border infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir, he said there was not much variation in the situation on the borders. 'The situation by and large is peaceful and well under control'. On suicides and cases of fratricides in the armed forces, the minister said 'there have been some visible improvements, though one should not expect miracles to happen in a short time'. 'Our counselling efforts and other moves seems to be having an effect', the minister added. (PTI)

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