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Kashmir celebrates Republic Day with ardour

January 26, 2012 - Srinagar/Guwahati

Marking the nation's 63rd Republic Day, people and government leaders of Jammu and Kashmir celebrated the occasion with patriotic fervour in Srinagar on Thursday.

State Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather presided over the grand function that saw the attendance of scores of enthusiastic residents, who thronged to the venue braving the chilly winter breeze.

A wave of patriotic exuberance swept across the venue as Rather unfurled the Indian national flag, while the tune of national anthem reverberated in the backdrop.

Security personnel deployed in the strife-ridden valley gave a guard of honour to Rather in an elaborate parade march that drew applause from the audience.

Addressing the gathering, Rather expressed joy at the significant decline in incidents of violence in the past year.

"Fortunately, the situation in Kashmir is gradually returning to normal. It is good that peace is returning to the region. The year 2011 was the most peaceful year in the last 20 years. We saw peace and normalcy in the Valley," said Rather.

In Guwahati also people observed the Republic Day with high spirits.

Amid tight security, Assam Governor J.B.Pattnaik unfurled the national flag in front of scores of spectators.

In his address, Pattnaik reflected on the initiatives taken by the state government in curbing insurgency and conflict in the restive region.

"Counter-insurgency operations against active militant groups and peace overtures for people willing to come forward for negotiated settlements has paid rich dividends which has been reflected in the suspension of (violent) operations," said Pattnaik.

More than a dozen insurgent groups have been fighting the Central Government for decades in Assam and neighbouring states of Northeast India, killing thousands of civilians as well as paramilitary personnel in attacks.

In an effort to ease tension and sway public opinion away from the militants, the Central Government has held periodic talks with several of the groups, including the hard-line United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA).


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