In a strong, though veiled, criticism of Narendra Modi government for its handling of the violent protests in Kashmir, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday advocated “restraint and sensitivity” in responding to them saying that they are “our people” and “we cannot forsake them”.
“Dr Manmohan Singh government had 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,” she said in her address to party MPs at the Congress parliamentary party meeting here.
“Militants must be dealt with firmly. Yet we must introspect and ask ourselves what has driven scores of young people 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,” said the Congress president.
Her nuanced stance against the iron-fisted approach in dealing with young protesters in the Valley and also her advocacy for opening a dialogue with them came amid continuing cycle of violence that hit the valley about a fortnight back following the killing of Burhan Wani, a militant commander.
“We must respond with restraint and sensitivity to the harsh realities of recent months. Not doing so is fraught with dangerous long-term consequences. Our party position is clear and consistent: while borders cannot be withdrawn, much can and must be done within the framework of our Constitution,” said Gandhi.
Last Monday, participating in a debate in the Rajya Sabha, home minister Rajnath Singh had blamed Pakistan for the unrest in Kashmir situation, but leaders across party lines criticized the government for its handling of protestors with Leader of the Opposition, Ghulam Nabi Azad, saying that same bullets can’t be used for both militants and civilians.