India will give fitting reply to terrorism: Sonia (Lead, Changing dateline)

December 3rd, 2008 - 7:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia GandhiDoda/Uri (Jammu and Kashmir), Dec 3 (IANS) India wants friendly ties with neighbouring countries but that would not come in the way of giving a “fitting reply to terrorism”, Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi said Wednesday. “Our intentions to have friendly relations with our neighbouring countries should not be misconstrued as our weakness,” Gandhi told a huge crowd at an election rally in Doda of Jammu and Kashmir Wednesday afternoon.

Reiterating the resolve to fight terrorism with grit and determination, Gandhi said: “We have never succumbed to dangers of terrorism nor we ever will. We will give a fitting reply to terrorism.”

Gandhi, chairperson of India’s ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), was referring to the Nov 26 terrorist attack in Mumbai in which 183 people were killed. Indian authorities have blamed it on elements based in Pakistan.

Elections to the Jammu and Kashmir assembly are on and three of the seven phases have been completed. More than 60 percent voter turnout has been reported so far, as people ignored boycott calls from separatists.

Gandhi complimented people of the state for reposing faith in democracy by turning out in large numbers to exercise their franchise.

“This 60 percent and more turnout of voters in the places where polling has taken place should serve as a lesson to those who have been resorting to poll boycott calls. They should come forward and also become part of the democratic process.”

“We are open to dialogue with everyone within the parameters of democracy and the Indian constitution,” she said.

The crowd cheered her as she spoke of the local needs, creation of new districts and development that took place under the Congress rule with Ghulam Nabi Azad as chief minister.

“Though it was a coalition government, we did what we could do to improve the lot of the people in Jammu and Kashmir.

“I am not going to refer to the conduct of our allies - you know it better… what happened,” she said, referring to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) that withdrew support to the Congress earlier this year.

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