I understand your pain: Rahul in J&K

FP

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, who arrived here on a two-day visit, said he wants to build a long-term relationship with Kashmiri people, especially the youth. "I am aware that you have suffered a lot. My first step is to build a strong relationship with you,'' Rahul said while addressing villagers who had assembled to witness the foundation of Zojilla tunnel at Z Morh.

Flanked by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Union Ministers Farooq Abdullah and C P Joshi, Rahul said the aim of his visit was to take back first-hand feedback on the hardships that people of the state face. "My family is from Kashmir. We are Kashmiris. I want Jammu and Kashmir to get benefits like other states ó be it in infrastructure, education or power sector. I want to understand the problems of youth, I want to listen to them," he said.

Rahul said when he came to Kashmir last year he was informed that Ladakh road remains cutoff from rest of the country. "This year we have laid the foundation of the tunnel and it stands as a sign of development. I have advised the authorities to complete it as soon as possible. I have been here in the past, I am here today, and I will try to come more often in future," he said.

Referring to the relations between Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and Jawaharlal Nehru, and that between Rajiv Gandhi and Farooq Abdullah, Rahul said he wants to strengthen the relation with Omar in a similar manner.

Earlier in the day, he arrived in Leh and addressed councilors of Ladakh Hill Development Council as well as a public rally there. In the evening, he visited Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre and interacted with the delegates of All India Youth Congress Committee.

Rahul will address panchs and sarpanchs in Srinagar on Friday afternoon.

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