Sonia Rejects RSS Demand For Division Of J&K

13 September 2008

New Delhi: Firmly ruling out any division of Jammu and Kashmir, Congress President Sonia Gandhi today said there was no question of pandering to separatists. 'I unequivocally reject the notion of a further division of Jammu and Kashmir which has been advocated by the RSS. There is also no question of pandering to or being soft on the separatists,' she said in her address at the meeting of the Congress Working Committee here. 'Let me categorically state that the people of all regions of Jammu and Kashmir are part of India. If any section feels alienated, it is incumbent upon us to deal with it most sensitively,' Gandhi said. Expressing hope that the recent settlement on the Amarnath land row would lead to return of peace in the state, she said it was a matter of 'deep anguish' that the earlier normalcy and peaceful situation should have taken 'such a painful turn'. Gandhi said there had been a marked improvement and development in the state in recent years and the Prime Minister's Reconstruction Package and programmes and initiatives at the state level 'were making a decisive impact.' 'Normalcy had returned, a fact borne by the strong revival in tourism, for instance,' she said. Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Chief Saif-ud-din Soz invited the Congress President to visit the state and galvanise the party before the polls. He suggested concrete steps to capture the political space occupied by the party in the past. Soz said some political parties were trying to take advantage of the situation in the wake of the Amarnath land row. He said the party will have to strengthen its base in the state to return to its former glory. On the timing of the assembly elections favoured by the party, he parried a direct reply saying it was for the Election Commission to decide.