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President Patil visits forward areas in J&K

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
Last updated on: May 23, 2008 16:15 IST
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President Pratibha Patil arrived in Srinagar on Friday morning on a five-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir.

On her arrival at the Srinagar airport, the President was received by Governor Lt Gen (Retd) S K Sinha, Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Union Minister for Water Resources Prof Saifuddin Soz, Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Baig, ministers, chief secretary, and director general of police and senior army, civil and police officers.

A guard of honour was presented to the President by a contingent of the Indian Air Force before she flew to a forward post to address the troops.

During her five day stay, the President will address the convocations of the Institute of Medical Sciences, Soura; Sher-i-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences & Technology, Jammu, and inaugurate the Jammu University campus at Bhadarwah and Kashmir Studies Centre, University of Kashmir at Srinagar.

The President visited forward areas of Tanghdar area near the Line of Control. Patil, who is visiting the state for the first time after she assumed office as President, went to a bunker located at 9,600 ft altitude and interacted with army officers and jawans.

"I am so delighted to visit this very important and strategic post. I simply admire courage and morale of the jawans who are keeping vigil on the border day and night in such a hazardous area and climatic conditions," Patil wrote in visitors book at Tangdhar.

"It was indeed extremely exciting and gratifying to see our jawans doing such hard work. They sleep in bunkers and eat tin food. I simply appreciate their courage and sense of duty," the President wrote.

Patil, who was accompanied by Governor S K Sinha, Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor, was briefed about the anti-infiltration and surveillance mechanism put in place to prevent militants to cross the border into India.

She was also briefed about the night vision and hand-held thermal equipment used in tracking the movement of militants in the border areas.

While addressing the special sainik sammelan in Baramulla in north Kashmir, the President said, "We must guard our borders with full dedication and bravery. I am confident that any violation of our borders will be dealt with resolutely and firmly. It is only when our borders are protected that the nation can progress."

"It is always our effort to ensure that our armed forces are equipped with modern and high quality weapons as well as imparted the best training," Patil said.

"The Indian army, apart from manning the borders, is also involved in development works and is contributing to welfare activities in Jammu and Kashmir. The people of the State are benefiting from these activities. Your discipline and cooperative attitude has impressed both the government and the people. I appreciate these efforts," the President said.

Additional Reportage: PTI

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar