The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cong woos minorities

Mumbai, Dec. 23: Launching her party’s campaign for the civic elections in Maharashtra, Congress president Sonia Gandhi wooed the minorities and strongly condemned the killing of a four-member Dalit family in Maharashtra as “shameful”.

Focusing her 11-minute speech on the uplift of minorities, Sonia referred to the killing of the Dalit family by upper caste villagers at Khairlanji in Bhandara district in September and promised a speedy, impartial probe.

She said: “Our heads hang in shame. It is the duty of the civilised society to provide security to the poorer and weaker sections of the society and ensure that such incidents do not happen in future.”

Sonia said the investigation into the Dalit atrocity had been handed over to the CBI and hoped that the guilty would be punished. She added that the probes into the Malegaon serial blasts and the explosions outside mosques in Nanded had also been transferred to the CBI.

On Thursday, the Vilasrao Deshmukh government transferred the Malegaon and Nanded explosion investigations to the CBI even as the anti-terrorist squad (ATS) filed a chargesheet in the Malegaon case.

Projecting the UPA government’s minority-friendly policies, Sonia referred to the creation of a separate ministry for minorities headed by A.R. Antulay and the 15-point programme for minority welfare announced by the Prime Minister.

Arriving in Mumbai amid unprecedented security following a possible terror threat from al Qaida, Sonia first visited Chaityabhoomi, the memorial of Babasaheb Ambedkar and paid her respects before reaching Shivaji Park, the venue of the public meeting in central Mumbai.

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