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Updated: September 16, 2010 10:42 IST

Create space for reconciliation: Sonia

Smita Gupta
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UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the all-party meeting on Kashmir in New Delhi on Wednesday.
UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the all-party meeting on Kashmir in New Delhi on Wednesday.

The "legitimate aspirations" of Kashmiri youth must be understood and respected, she says

The “legitimate aspirations” of those young people in the Kashmir Valley who “have grown up in the embrace of violence, of conflict and brutality” must be understood and respected, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said here on Wednesday, while making an impassioned plea for creating “space for reconciliation” that could end the turmoil and conflict in the trouble-torn northern state.

Addressing an all-party meeting on Kashmir here, Ms. Gandhi said the approach to finding a solution had to be “magnanimous and mature … as befits a strong and inclusive democracy.”

“A far too serious challenge”

While urging the political parties gathered to set aside “ideological and political differences” to arrive at “suitable decisions” that would break this “vicious cycle of violence and suffering,” she stressed, “We are facing far too serious a challenge to allow those differences to stand in the way of resolute, sensitive and appropriate actions.” The Congress, Ms. Gandhi said, was “more than willing to support a process of healing and dialogue in partnership with the people of Jammu and Kashmir.”

Making an emotional pitch, she underscored the fact that the people of Jammu and Kashmir “are our people … our citizens and therefore this needed to be demonstrated “in a spirit of accommodation.”

In this context, she quoted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had said last month that “India's democracy has shown that it has the resilience to accommodate a diversity of aspirations and unique circumstances, and the capacity to solve complex problems.”

While pointing to the “inimical forces within and beyond the State,” and acknowledging the “extreme pressures and dangerous circumstances our police and our security forces face in protecting our sovereignty and territorial integrity “ she said, “We must ask ourselves why is there so much anger. Why is there so much pain, in particular amongst the youth?”

Earlier, she began her speech expressing her “deep sense of sorrow at the continuing loss of life in Kashmir,” emphasising that her heart goes out “especially to the parents and families of children who have died.”

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