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Sonia Gandhi calls for spirit of accommodation towards Kashmir

September 15, 2010 16:43 IST

Linking the turmoil in Kashmir to anger and pain among Kashmiri youth who grew up in "conflict and brutality", Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday said their "legitimate aspirations" must be respected and a magnanimous approach adopted to give them hope.

Addressing an all-party meet on Kashmir in New Delhi, she pressed for a spirit of accommodation and reconciliation and said the "ideological and political differences" should be put aside as "we are facing far too serious a challenge to allow those differences to stand in the way of resolute, sensitive and appropriate actions".

She said the Congress party is "more than willing" to support a process of "healing and dialogue in partnership" with the people of the state as she expressed deep sense of sorrow at the continuing loss of life in the state.

"We meet today against the backdrop of escalating violence in Kashmir. It cannot be too strongly said that words alone will not suffice," Gandhi said at the meeting convened by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"Together, let us arrive at suitable decisions on which we can all agree to break this vicious cycle of violence and suffering," she said.

Emphasising that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of "our country and our democracy", the United Progressive Alliance chairperson said, "We must ask ourselves why is there so much anger. Why is there so much pain, in particular amongst the youth?"

Apparently seeking to give answers to these questions, she said, "The young, especially, belong to a generation that has grown up in the embrace of violence, of conflict and brutality. We must give them hope, we must understand and respect their legitimate aspirations."

Gandhi said this should be reflected in "what we say and decide. We need to be magnanimous and mature in our approach, as befits a strong confident and inclusive democracy."

She said, "There are some inimical forces within and beyond the state and we understand the extreme pressures and dangerous circumstances our police and security forces face in protecting our sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Citing the prime minister's statement that India's democracy has "resilience to accommodate a diversity of problems", the Congress President said, "The people of Jammu and Kashmir are our people, they are our citizens."

"Let us demonstrate in a spirit of accommodation. This alone, I believe, can create space for reconciliation and bring and end to turmoil and conflict."

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