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Indian PM Pledges to Root Out Terrorism and Revive Economy


Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh marked the 62nd anniversary of the country's independence Saturday by pledging to root out terrorism and revive India's economy.

During a ceremony at the historic Red Fort in the capital New Delhi, Mr. Singh told onlookers the government has taken steps to eradicate terrorism. And while he did not mention rival Pakistan by name, Mr. Singh said India wants to live in peace with its neighbors.

The Independence Day celebrations are the first since the deadly terror attacks in Mumbai last November, and come as India is trying to contain the spread of the deadly H1N1 swine flu virus.

During Saturday's speech, Mr. Singh also pledged to crack down on Maoist insurgents who have mounted several attacks on security forces in eastern India.

The prime minister said one of India's biggest challenges is the economy. He promised to help improve the country's economic growth rate and to protect farmers and poor people from the specter of a widespread drought.

Security across India was tight Saturday.

Helicopters and sniffer dogs patrolled the site of the festivities in New Delhi. Officials said many states had been asked to bolster their security measures.

In Indian-controlled Kashmir, separatists marked India's independence anniversary with a strike, shutting down portions of the Himalayan valley. On Friday, police in Kashmir fired tear gas canisters to break-up anti-India protests.

Islamic separatists in Kashmir have been fighting to merge with Pakistan or to establish an independent homeland for two decades.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a statement Friday commemorating the sacrifices Indians made to gain their independence and establish a democracy.

More report from our Kolkata reporter , Pramashish Ghosh Roy

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