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Sonia seeks action in Assam violence, northeastern people’s mistreatment


New Delhi : Expressing her “deep pain” at the ethnic violence in Assam, Congress president Sonia Gandhi Sunday condemned the subsequent mistreatment faced by people from northeast in some states and called for strict action against the guilty.

Speaking at the Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavna Award ceremony here, she said the present conditions prevailing in the country were linked to its unity and amity.

“Whatever happened in Assam, it is very painful and a matter of concern. Those responsible for the incidents, whoever they may be, should face legal action soon,” she said.

Gandhi also expressed concern over people from northeast leaving Bangalore and some other cities in large numbers due to rumours about their safety.

“The kind of treatment innocent people from northeast are facing, all of us should condemn it strongly and the centre and state governments should deal strictly with those trying to disrupt social harmony,” she said.

Gandhi said social harmony was not an issue for her late husband Rajiv Gandhi but a fundamental value which he lived all his life.

Rajiv Gandhi constantly struggled against social and communal tension, discord, violence, enmity, terrorism, illiteracy and poverty and sacrificed his life following the path, she said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Rajiv Gandhi wanted to build a strong and prosperous India. “He knew that India can make progress only if all countrymen live in peace, tolerance and harmony with each other,” he said.

Recalling contribution of the late prime minister towards improving technology, decentralisation and environmental protection, Manmohan Singh said that remembering the late leader “gives us inspiration for working in interest of people and the country.”

He complimented D.R. Mehta, who won the Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavna Award, for his long service to the physically challenged through the Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayta Samiti (BMVSS).

The prime minister said social organisations can partner with the government to strengthen unity and democracy in the country and expressed happiness that a lot of young people were coming forward for social service.

“In a big and diverse country like India, there is need for the government and NGOs to cooperate to fulfil the needs and expectations of people. I am happy that under the leadership of wise citizens like Shri D.R. Mehta, a lot of youngsters are coming forward for social service,” he said.

Gandhi also complimented Mehta for his work for the physically challenged and said BMVSS, started in Jaipur, was an example in the whole world.

Mehta, a former Indian Administrative Service officer, in his acceptance speech said BMVSS started in 1975 by fitting 59 limbs and had grown to be the largest organisation for disabled in the world.

He said it has so far rehabilitated more than 1.3 million disabled people in India and abroad by providing artificial limbs, callipers, tricycles, wheelchairs and other aids.

Mehta said BMVSS is the main body for Jaipur Foot, the most widely used prosthetic in the world. BMVSS has held more than 50 on-the-spot-fitment camps in 26 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.