New Delhi: Concerned over the situation in Kashmir, Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Thursday said there was need to reach out to the people of the state by addressing their "anger and pain" through dialogue and mutual understanding.
Describing the developments as a "call to our collective conscience", she underlined that Kashmir has a "special place" in the party's polity and the people of the state are "our very own and their suffering is ours".
Addressing a meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party here, Gandhi referred to the August 10 meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had with an all-party delegation from the state during which he unveiled a "blueprint for reconciliation and reconstruction stemming from a sincere and genuine desire to engage" the people of the state.
"Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed an upsurge of violence and tensions in recent weeks. I am anguished at what has been happening there... I feel their grief," the Congress chief said and expressed her deep-felt condolences to each and every family that has lost its loved ones.
"Reaching out to the people of the state, most particularly to the youth, is the need of the hour," she said at the meeting where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Cabinet colleagues were present.
Noting that a whole generation has grown up "under the shadow of brutality and conflict", Gandhi said, "The anger and pain that is manifesting itself, especially among the young, needs to be addressed," she said. She emphasised that "Dialogue and mutual understanding are the key to ending the cycle of violence and tragic killings."
Kashmir has been witnessing a cycle of violence for the last two months in which over 50 people have died. The Prime Minister has repeatedly called for an end to violence and expressed readiness to hold dialogue to address the grievances of people who shun violence. PTI