Congress president Sonia Gandhi, sending out an unambiguous message, has said that “elements with ulterior motives” are instigating violence in the Kashmir valley, and that they “must be identified and brought to book.”

She also added that the Jammu and Kashmir government should push the development agenda as that was the only way to create “jobs and livelihood opportunities,” one of the “key instruments against terrorism and violence.”

Ms. Gandhi's letter to her fellow Congress workers, which appeared in the July issue of the party mouthpiece Sandesh, was significantly released on a day when the Central and State governments were grappling with the spurt in violence in the valley.

“Pained by the upsurge in violence in J&K,” she sent her “deepest condolence to those innocent men and women who were killed in this mindless violence.”

“Show maturity”

An unsigned editorial in the same issue of Sandesh made a veiled attack against the People's Democratic Party (PDP), saying it was time that certain political leaders should “show the required maturity in dealing with the situation caused by the unrest in Jammu and Kashmir” and that politics was “not a vehicle to be used for fulfilling personal ambitions.”

“The need of the hour is restoration of trust and special efforts to bring back credibility to the institution of dialogue. This is not the time when certain political groups add further to the strife with their cacophony.” The Congress, the editorial continued, had always followed “a policy of zero tolerance towards human rights violations.”

The Congress president also sent out a stern warning to Pakistan, saying that while India would “strive for peace,” “we cannot and will not be soft on terrorism.”

Ms. Gandhi also said: “We have reiterated that effective action by Pakistan against terrorism is central to restoring good relations between our countries. We must continue to insist that Pakistan takes the investigation into the Mumbai terrorist attack seriously and bring all the perpetrators of that terrible crime to justice.”

It was against this backdrop that Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan urged the people of Jammu and Kashmir not to “fall prey to the machinations from across the border,” even as she dodged all questions on whether Chief Minister Omar Abdullah should be replaced in view of the situation.

“This is a sensitive situation,” she said, adding, “Right now, the Centre and the State should act in concert.”

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