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Kashmiri youths' pain and anger must be addressed, says Sonia Gandhi

Last updated on: August 19, 2010 13:30 IST
Expressing anguish over the developments in Kashmir valley, Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Thursday underlined the need to reach out to the people of the state, particularly the youth, and said dialogue and mutual understanding were the key to ending the cycle of violence.

Addressing the Congress Parliamentary Party in New Delhi, Gandhi said, "The anger and pain that are manifesting itself, especially among the young, needs to be addressed. They are our very own and their suffering is ours. Dialogue and mutual understanding were the key to ending the cycle of violence and tragic killings."

Prime Minister Singh, his Cabinet colleagues and party MPs from both Houses were present in the meeting which lasted for more than half-an-hour.

"I am anguished at what has been happening there. It is a call to our collective conscience...I feel their grief," she said, expressing her condolences to each family that has lost its loved ones.

Gandhi said a whole generation has grown up "under the shadow of brutality and conflict".

She said Jammu and Kashmir has a "special place" in the country's polity and "indeed in our hearts".

Referring to the recent upsurge in violence, she said the security forces have a difficult task to discharge.

On the prime minister's meeting with the all-party delegation on August 10, she said he has unveiled a blueprint for reconciliation and reconstruction stemming from a sincere and genuine desire to engage the people of the state.

"That is and will remain our agenda," she said.

She also told the MPs that illegal mining has emerged as the "most serious menace" in a number of states affected by tribal deprivation and Left wing extremist violence.

She maintained that dealing with the Naxalite challenge will call for fundamental innovations in the manner in which the mineral resources are exploited and forests are managed.

Addressing the CPP, she said the Lok Sabha debated illegal mining and "this has emerged as a most serious menace in a number of states with profound political, economic and social implications".

She said the government was taking a number of initiatives like setting up of a commission of inquiry and a mining regulatory authority.

 "What is most worrying is the high degree of convergence between areas that are mineral and forest-rich and areas that are the arenas of tribal deprivation and Left-wing extremist violence," she said. "Protecting the rights of tribals and ensuring their livelihood are

central to bringing about an end to their exploitation and sense of alienation".

Referring to the prime minister terming the problem of Naxalism as a serious challenge, Gandhi said dealing with them "will call for fundamental innovations in the manner in which our mineral resources are exploited and our forests managed".

On the Bhopal gas tragedy, Gandhi acknowledged that there have been inadequacies in how successive governments have dealt with the calamity. "But we cannot remain prisoners of the past. We must look ahead and answer the question -- what can we do now? Rather than what could we have done in the past?" she said.

Gandhi said the GoM has prepared a detailed agenda for action, compensation has been increased, medical facilities are being strengthened, judicial decisions are being reopened, waste disposal, decontamination and remediation activities are being finalised.

"Not a single victim should be denied justice. Equally important is the necessity to put systems in place that will ensure than no Bhopal-type man made catastrophe repeats itself," she said.


Referring to price rise in her speech and the adoption of a resolution to contain inflation in both the Houses of Parliament, Gandhi said controlling it remains the top priority.

"Sometimes, there is no simply no option as in the case of petroleum products some weeks ago. Even so, a constant vigil has to be maintained. The cooperation of the state governments is essential," she said.

Gandhi said the prime minister has spoken of the need to bring about reforms in the management of our food economy and the National Advisory Council has taken up the subject and steps are being taken to fulfill the party's manifesto pledge on food security.

With allegations of corruption plaguing the Commonwealth Games, she also said those found guilty will be punished after the event.

Terming the Commonwealth Games as "a matter of national pride", she said the Games were not related to any political party or individual. "It was a matter of national pride, and efforts should be made to hold them successfully."

At the same time, she said, those found guilty of corruption in works related to the Games would be punished after the event, and referred to the Group of Ministers set up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to look into the preparations for the Games.

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