Sonia enjoys a boat ride in Kashmir | india | Hindustan Times
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Sonia enjoys a boat ride in Kashmir

When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was reiterating his offer of talks to separatists in Srinagar three days ago, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi was having a Shikara ride in the Dal lake, reports Arun Joshi.

india Updated: Oct 31, 2009 15:13 IST
Arun Joshi

When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was reiterating his offer of talks to separatists in Srinagar three days ago, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi was having a Shikara ride in the Dal lake.

Enjoying Srinagar as a tourist, she also strolled along the boulevard, sans the usual security that surrounds her.

Sonia Gandhi had turned nostalgic in her speech at Anantnag and spoke about her mother-in-law Indira Gandhi’s last visit to Kashmir a little before her tragic assassination on October 31, 1984. She took time off from a hectic official schedule on Thursday morning to enjoy what Srinagar had to offer.

Sonia visited a houseboat anchored along SKICC, spent some time there, before taking a Shikara (luxury boat) on the waters of Dal lake, in the backdrop of the revered Muslim shrine of Hazratbal and overlooked by Zabarvan hills.

As the bystanders watched her in awe and disbelief, Sonia took a stroll along the Boulevard, occasionally interacting with the locals, waving and smiling at them, an official told Hindustan Times. She also dissuaded her security guards from building a human wall around her to prevent people from reaching her.

While walking along the boulevard, Sonia Gandhi also did some shopping.

In December 1986, she had come along with her husband and Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and their children Rahul and Priyanka. The family had driven from Jammu to Srinagar in a car. They had visited Gulmarg, 55 kms north-west of Srinagar, where Rahul and Priyanka played with snow.

Thereafter, Sonia Gandhi visited Kashmir in 1998 and became a regular visitor to empathise with the victims of violence in Kaluchak in and Rajiv Nagar in Jammu in May and July 2002, and in Nadimarg, in the Valley in March 2003.

She led the heroic effort of holding of Congress chief ministers conclave in Kashmir in 2003.

Sonia was with the snow tsunami-hit people in March 2005, and again visited in April that year to flag off cross-LoC bus service from Srinagar. She was also there when devastating earthquake hit the people of the Valley in October 2005.