Sonia slams UPA government over security situation

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New Delhi, Nov 30 (UNI) Slamming the government for the 'lacunae" that allowed terrorists to cause mayhem in Mumbai, Congress President Sonia Gandhi has asked it to restore faith among the people and make them feel that ''they have a government.'' ''As the party that leads this coalition, our first task is to restore faith among the people. They must feel that they have a government that is taking all possible measures to give succour to those who need it and, more important, to ensure that there is no recurrence of such traumatic acts of terror,'' she said in her initial remarks at the Congress Working Committee meeting held here last night in the context of the Mumbai multiple terror strikes that left about 200 dead and 300 injured.

Ms Gandhi's remarks apparently set the tone for the discussion at the CWC whose members expressed dissatisfaction over the handling of the Mumbai terror attack, leading to the resignation of Home Minister Shivraj Patil today.

A copy of Ms Gandhi's initial remarks was released to the press.

Saying that the attack in Mumbai was qualitatively different from earlier terror strikes and called for immediate and firm action, Ms Gandhi asked the government to immediately set in motion steps needed to secure the safety and security of the citizens.

''We need to look into the lacunae that allowed terrorists to cause such mayhem. We need to put in place whatever reforms and changes are felt necessary to bring about a qualitative change in the way we anticipate and deal with terrorist violence.'' Stating that what had happened in Mumbai over the last few days was no less than an assault on our nationhood and an attempt to destroy the fabric of society and the secular, democratic way of life, Ms Gandhi said ''We do not know as yet what motivated those responsible for the death and havoc that we have witnessed. I am sure we will soon find out, and also come to know who organised and facilitated their mission. But one thing I do know: we can no longer sit back and let these attacks overwhelm us. Our response has to be effective and it has to be decisive.'' ''I know there are no easy answers and effective change takes time. But we must plan what we can do in the immediate future and what long-term measures and reforms are needed to strengthen and equip our police and security forces to be better prepared for the challenge they face.'' Apparently referring to the anti-government campaign on the terror issue by the Opposition BJP in the recent elections, Ms Gandhi asked all political parties to come together and rise above partisan considerations.

''It is unfortunate that some of our political adversaries have not done so and instead sought to take advantage from the terrible suffering in the city of Mumbai,'' she said, adding that ''We stand firm against any attempt to divide our people on the issue of terrorism. We will persevere in our effort to work with all those who recognize this as a national challenge that we have to meet collectively.'' UNI SH SB BD2025

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