Rahul Gandhi Strikes A Chord With Youth In J&K26 September 2011
The Economic Times
Srinagar: Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi struck an emotional chord with students of Kashmir University, saying he understood the pain of losing a family member to violence. Addressing around 1,000 students at the university's convention centre, Gandhi said his family had been a victim of violence. 'I am a Kashmiri. The pain and the suffering of this place is my suffering as well,' Gandhi said, evoking applause of students who had gathered for an interaction with him. Recollecting how India's tumultuous politics turned out to be a personal tragedy for him, he said: 'I was sitting in class, inattentively, when a lady walked to me and said there was a call. It was news that my grandmother had been shot dead. Few years later, my father was also killed. People who have suffered because of violence can understand the pain of violence,' he said. The students posed many questions about the level of violence in the Valley, to which Gandhi gave a patient hearing. Students spoke about the lack of job facilities and also absence of multi-nationals in the state. Gandhi said MNCs had some minimum basic conditions to be fulfilled and for other business houses, a congenial atmosphere was needed. 'I will send a delegation of young businessman. My responsibility is to send them to you and your responsibility is to convince them how they could set up their business in the Valley,' he said. Making the purpose of his visit clear he said, 'I am a Kashmiri. I have not come here to talk politics. The pain and suffering of this place is my suffering as well. I am not here to make a political speech. I have come to learn and understand how best I can help the people here,' he said. In a visibly relaxed atmosphere, a student told him: 'I lost my father when I was just five. Why don't you do something for us if you say you are also a Kashmiri? Kashmiri students are harassed and intimidated in other parts of the country where we go to pursue studies. Unemployment is growing and there are no avenues for professionals and educated people.' Rahul Gandhi took questions with a smile, though some of them were pointed and carried the anger of the local youth. 'I am not somebody who came here and will forget what you have told me. I will ensure that big corporate houses come here and create employment avenues in IT and other sectors. In a year or two, you will realise I have kept my promise. I have a Kashmiri origin and I deeply relate to that origin. 'I hold interactions with youth throughout the country as it is the youth who shall lead India to a better tomorrow,' Gandhi said. After his interaction with the students of Kashmir University, Rahul Gandhi paid obeisance at the nearby Hazratbal Shrine, which houses the holy relic of Prophet Mohammad. Hazratbal is the holiest Muslim shrine of Jammu and Kashmir. Earlier, he addressed a large gathering at the public park in Kargil town of Ladakh region. Gandhi promised to do his best to ensure the construction of tunnel across the Zojilla Pass in Ladakh, which would ensure that the desert region remains connected with the rest of the country around the year. Heavy snowfall in the Zojilla Pass blocks the Srinagar-Leh highway for nearly six months. After a night halt in Srinagar, Rahul would fly to Jammu, Poonch and Rajouri on Tuesday before taking off for Delhi in the evening.