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Thursday, 15 August, 2002, 06:58 GMT 07:58 UK
Indian PM accuses Pakistan
Soldiers guarding Red Fort
Delhi's Red Fort is the focus of events in the capital
Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has attacked Pakistan's stand on terrorism in a traditional independence day speech.

The prime minister accused Pakistan of double standards by supporting Kashmiri militants despite joining the global war on terrorism.


The Kashmir elections will be free and fair, no one should doubt that

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee
Mr Vajpayee also countered a speech by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf dismissing India's move to hold elections in its part of Kashmir.

"Those who call the Kashmir polls farcical, should look at their own affairs at home.

"The Kashmir elections will be free and fair, no one should doubt that," the prime minister said.

President Musharraf said on Wednesday that the election was another effort to give a "mask of legitimacy to India's illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir".

But Mr Vajpayee said India wanted peace with Pakistan, and South Asia needed to look ahead.

"Why can't we unite against our real enemy - poverty," he said.

On alert

Heavy security is in place across India for the country's 55th independence day celebrations.

Tens of thousands of armed security personnel have been deployed amid fears that separatist militants could strike at key targets.

Security check in Srinagar
Special measures are being taken in Kashmir
Security is especially tight in Indian-administered Kashmir and in the country's troubled north-east, where separatists have called for a boycott of the celebrations.

In the Kashmir capital, Srinagar, soldiers have taken up positions on roof tops near a sports stadium, the venue of the main official celebrations.

Separatist militants have called for the day to be observed as a black day and the main separatist alliance has called for a general strike.

Officials said on Wednesday that Indian troops had pulled down Pakistani flags raised by suspected militants at several places across the state.

Security patrols

In the capital, Delhi, police check-points have been set up on roads leading into the city.

"Security has been strengthened at the airport, railway stations, and at key economic institutions after intelligence reports indicated that these could be targeted," senior police official, SK Kain, told the Associated Press.

Anti-aircraft guns were deployed around Delhi's historic Red Fort, from where Mr Vajpayee made his speech.

Snipers were posted on rooftops around the 17th century fort and helicopters patrolled the skies during the address which was broadcast live.

Concerns are especially high this year because elections to the Indian part of the disputed region of Kashmir are due next month.

India and Pakistan both claim the region and are locked in a tense confrontation along their border where nearly a million soldiers have been deployed.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Adam Mynott
"The Prime Minister spoke of the need to change India into a fully developed country"
Political editor of The Tribune TR Ramchandra
"The new president is not anybody's man"
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15 Aug 02 | South Asia
15 Aug 02 | South Asia
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30 Jul 02 | South Asia
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