New Delhi: Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Sunday wanted swift legal action against people behind the violence in Assam and also stern action against those "spoiling" harmony in the wake of the exodus of people from the northeast in some states.
A concerned Sonia said the Assam violence was a matter of "great sorrow" and condemned the treatment meted out to people from the northeast in its aftermath in some parts of the country.
"Whatever happened in Assam is a matter of great sorrow and concern. Legal action should happen swiftly against those responsible for the incident, whoever they are.
"Besides, everybody should condemn the treatment being meted out to the innocent people in some parts of the country. The central and the state governments should take stern action against those spoiling the harmony," she said.
Sonia said the country belonged to all Indians and that they have a right to live in any part of the country.
She was addressing a ceremony to confer the 20th Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhawana Award here in which Prime Manmohan Singh was present along with his senior cabinet colleagues and party leaders. The award with a citation and Rs 5 lakh cash was given to D R Mehta, the founder of Bhagwan Mahaveer Vikalang Sahayata Samiti.
"All sections of the society should come together to create such an atmosphere. This is true service of humanity," she said noting that the situations that have arisen in the country today are the one related to social unity and harmony.
"If we look at the history since Independence, the biggest challenge before the country has always come from those elements, who are enemies of social harmony and unity. Those, who have faced these elements and fought with them are the true warriors and in present circumstances, I consider only them true patriots," Sonia said.
The Congress President said late Rajiv Gandhi always fought against social communal tensions, violence and and hatred and sacrificed his life fighting them.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that Rajiv Gandhi knew very well that India can progress only when all the countrymen can live together with peace, tolerance and harmony.
Singh chose the occassion to highlight the role of social
organizations in strengthening democracy.
"I have always been of this belief that social organizations in participation with Government can make a major contribution in strengthening the roots of democracy and spreading brotherhood in the country.
"In a country as huge and diverse like India, there is a need for the government and non-government organizations to work together to fulfil the needs and aspirations of the people," the Prime Minister said.
He lauded the efforts of Mehta`s organization which has donated artificial limbs to the poor and physically handicapped in 26 countries of Asia, Africa and South America besides chaning the lives of many within the country.
Gandhi also lauded the "selfless" efforts of Mehta saying he was doing something, which joins people not only on surface level but brings hearts togethter.
A recipient of Padma Bhushan, Mehta was given the Tech Museum Award in the Silicon Valley in the USA for innovation and its use in humanity. He is also a recipient of Diwali Behan award by his holiness Dalai Lama and many other awards.
The Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhawana Puraskar, which has earlier been given to stalwarts like Mother Teresa, Lata Mangeshkar, Bismillah Khan and Dilip Kumar, carries a citation and a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh.
Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Mukul Wasnik read out the citation recognizing Mehta`s "unique contribution to the welfare of the poor and physically challenged and exemplifying spirit of self-less public service..".
Chairman of the Committee Karan Singh recalled late Rajiv Gandhi`s contributions to bring peace in the country through various accords.
In his speech, Mehta urged the government to consider taking up a large programme in a phased manner for setting up of the permanent centres of Jaipur Foot Technology, to begin with in the SAARC countries and in some war torn countries of Africa.