Militants must be dealt with firmly, says Sonia Gandhi

Militants must be dealt with firmly, says Sonia Gandhi

New Delhi, July 20 (IANS) Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday said “militants must be dealt with firmly, even though an introspection was required as to what had driven scores of youths to such levels of anger and protest in Jammu and Kashmir.”

Addressing the Congress Parliamentary Party meeting here, Sonia Gandhi said, “Recent events in the valley are tragic and pose a grave challenge to country. The loss of life and suffering of our brothers and sisters, whether they are civilian or of the armed forces, is a source of deep anguish. There can be no compromise on national security.”

“Militants must be dealt with firmly. Yet, we must introspect and ask ourselves what has driven scores of youths to such levels of anger and protest, even violence. Can we say in all honesty that we have responded with sincerity to their pleas? They are our people, we cannot forsake them,” she said.

Curfew imposed by the authorities and a protest shutdown called by separatists have continued in the Kashmir Valley for the 13th day on Wednesday.

All normal activities of life have been paralysed by the ongoing cycle of violence that has claimed lives of 42 civilians and two policemen.

“Manmohan Singh’s government has done a tremendous amount of good work, along with a serious effort to open and sustain a dialogue. Sadly, this is no longer the case. We must respond with restraint and sensitivity to the harsh realities of recent month,” she said.

“Not doing so is fraught with dangerous long-term consequences. Our party’s postiion is clear and consistent. While borders cannot be redrawn, much can and must be done within the framework of our Constitution,” Sonia Gandhi added.

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