`Kashmiris have voted for democracy, development`

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Monday hailed Kashmiris for the large turnout in the panchayat elections, saying it was a definitive message they had faith in democracy, peace and development.

Updated: May 23, 2011, 14:31 PM IST

Basholi: Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Monday hailed Kashmiris for the large turnout in the panchayat elections, saying it was a definitive message they had faith in democracy, peace and development.

"People here have demonstrated their courage in an exemplary fashion against the forces of violence and those behind the acts of terror," Gandhi said, referring to the polls at a rally here after laying the foundation of a Rs 145 crore river bridge.

"It`s a historic moment, people through their large participation have demonstrated their unwavering faith in democracy," said Gandhi, who is on her first visit to the state this year.

Kashmir is holding 16-phased panchayat polls which has so far seen more than 80 percent participation of voters.

"They have voted for democracy and development, to which both the United Progressive Alliance government (in New Delhi) and the state government are committed in full measure," she said.

"Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah are working together on this," she said. Congress is the junior ally in National Conference-led state government.

Without mentioning terrorists or separatists who had given a boycott call for the panchayat polls, Gandhi said voters have delivered a stunning message that they are for "peace and development".

Basholi is in Kathua district. The 592-metre bridge over Ravi will connect Jammu and Kashmir with Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.

The Basohli bridge is going to be a technological marvel. It will be a cable-stayed bridge, similar to the second Hooghly bridge in Kolkota, the Naini Bridge in Uttar Pradesh`s Allahabad and the Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link in Mumbai.

The Basohli bridge will have a tower height of about 88 metres above deck level. The decking and the span regions will only be supported by cables. There will be 1.5-metre-wide footpaths on both the sides.

IANS