Sonia wants Kashmiri women to spread peace message

April 12th, 2008 - 6:32 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

Jammu, April 12 (IANS) Congress President Sonia Gandhi Saturday asked the women of Jammu and Kashmir to fan out all across the state with the message of peace and prosperity and get the party re-elected in the elections in 2008. Gandhi, chairperson of the ruling coalition United Progressive Alliance (UPA), was addressing a gathering of women Congress workers here.

She said the women had a special role to play in this election year - to spread the message of Congress’ programmes and achievements to the people in one and all villages.

“Your work should help Congress regain power in the state,” she said.

The Congress president said the party had brought about peace and development of Jammu and Kashmir and pulled the state out of the quagmire in which it had landed before the Congress came back to power.

One of the examples, she said, was the way UPA government had worked to better the lot of Kashmiri migrants. “The centre is constructing 7,200 homes for Kashmiri Pandit migrants in which 25,000 of them will be able to live.”

“The NDA government paid lip service, while we have worked for the people on the ground,” she claimed.

The recurring theme of Gandhi’s speech, which lasted less than 10 minutes, was that women needed to raise their voice against social evils, especially female foeticide, domestic violence and other excesses.

“Please allow the girls to take birth. They can be as bright as sons. They are the light of two homes,” she pleaded and cited the example of India’s first woman prime minister and her mother-in-law Indira Gandhi.

“She (Indira Gandhi) shone like a star all over the world.

“May be tomorrow your daughter becomes another Indira Gandhi,” she said amid cheers.

Sonia said: “Women empowerment is the answer to all our problems.”

Many participants at the rally complained that the Congress president had not addressed the main issues of price rise and other day-to-day problems confronting them.

“She just said nice things and flew back,” homemaker Sushila Kumari told IANS.

“It was a chopper ride for her (Sonia Gandhi),” Vimla Dogra, another participant said. “And for us it was a day of sweating out in the sweltering heat.”

Earlier, Gandhi visited Kashmiri Pandit migrants in a newly constructed satellite township in the suburbs of Jammu.

She promised the living conditions of the exiled Pandits would be bettered till they return to their homes in the Kashmir valley.

She flew in straight to the township after her arrival at the technical airport in a special aircraft of the home ministry at around 11 a.m.

About 350,000 Kashmiri Hindus had fled the valley in 1990 when the armed separatist movement erupted.

Separatist guerrillas are alleged to have killed many members of the community, which constituted less than seven percent of the population.

The migrants continue to live in the government-provided accommodation and have been getting relief of Rs.3,000 per month besides free ration.

Accompanied by Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Congress president went around the flats in the township and spoke to residents, asking them about their living conditions.

Before leaving the township, Gandhi planted a Chinar sapling in the premises. The Chinar tree - resembling the maple - is associated with Kashmiri heritage.

She was at the township for a little over 20 minutes. There was tight security and media persons had a tough time reaching the township, which had been converted into a virtual garrison.

This was Gandhi’s first visit to a Kashmiri Pandit migrants’ colony. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had visited some of the migrant camps in November 2004.

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