Editorial 1 / Sam’s Shield
Editorial 2 / Two uniformities
Diplomacy / From honeymoon to brass tacks
Price of development
Document / Young, poor and ignorant of their rights
Letters to the editor

The recent meeting of the United States president, Mr George W. Bush and the president of the Russian Federation, Mr Vladimir Putin, suggests that the two leaders have developed a close personal rapport, which may contribute to closer co-ordination on strategic issues than many may have expected. Meeting on the sidelines of the group of eight summit in Genoa, the two leaders not only issued a joint statement that reflected a “middle ground” on issues like the National Missile Defence and reduction in nuclear weapons, but displayed considerable personal warmth towards each other. The two leaders have agreed not just to further consolidate their ongoing dialogue, but also approved of the need for cuts in nuclear arsenals with the deployment of missile defence systems. The two leaders will meet twice again this year, and the proposed cuts — if implemented — could mean that eventually Russia and the US would have no more than a couple of thousand nuclear weapons in their respective arsenals.

Ever since Mr Bush took over as president, it has been feared that US unilateralist behaviour on key international issues may witness the return of cold war politics. This fear had been expressed, not just by countries like Russia and China, but even by the US’s allies in Europe. These apprehensions were accentuated by Mr Bush’s unveiling of plans for an NMD. In essence, Mr Bush suggested that the US would seek to move away from nuclear deterrence, based on mutually assured destruction, to developing, instead, a protective defensive guard against actual and potential threats. The US would seek to construct a giant shield that could, in theory, make it redundant for it to carry a sword. This new framework would entail deep cuts in US nuclear forces. The ostensible strategic purpose was to protect the US from threats that came from rogue states and other countries of concern, which could be in a position to blackmail the US once they possessed a few missiles that could target the US.

Domestically, within the US, there were many, especially within the scientific world, who believed that the technology needed to construct these systems was still nowhere on the horizon. Recall that the two tests, authorized by Mr Bill Clinton, had failed. Allies of the US, especially in Western Europe, felt that they could be left out of the shield and this reinforced the concern that their security might be delinked from the US. Russia and China believed that such systems could seriously destabilize the nuclear deterrent relationship, particularly since they were sure that not only would the US build a shield against their missiles, but continue to maintain the nuclear sword which could decapitate them pre-emptively. In addition, there were fears that the US would unilaterally abrogate the 1970 anti-ballistic missile treaty. Some of the criticism has been blunted by President Bush’s wide-ranging consultation with allies. There also now seems to be an implicit promise to Russia that the ABM treaty would only be abrogated after discussions, and there would be a parallel deep cut in nuclear forces. Technologically, the success of one of the NMD tests last week has weakened domestic opposition to the idea. There is, of course, still much scepticism and China — for one — continues to be deeply critical of the planned missile defence system, but it does seem that once the inevitability of an NMD becomes clear, most countries would prefer engaging the US on the issue rather than confronting it.


There is often a nice, if ironic, symmetry in the conflict between red and saffron. This is particularly true of the righteous and principled battles fought by West Bengal’s Left Front government with the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre. The issue, this time, is a uniform curriculum for schools which the Central ministry of human resources development is trying to foist on all Indian states. Bengal has, of course, rejected this. The reasons sound sensible enough. Fighting off the benighted and bigoted archaisms of Mr Murli Manohar Joshi’s hare-brain vision of an “Indian” education should now have become second nature to any thinking person in the field — politician, policy-maker or educationist. The saffronization of education, the distortion of Indian history, the imposition of the occult, the dogmatic and the chauvinistic are all familiar trends which those committed to a liberal and secular education have to waste much of their energy in keeping at bay. So the Left Front’s rejection of a uniform school curriculum to preserve India’s federal pluralism could appear to be part of this necessary and valuable resistance.

But how plural is the left’s vision? A closer look reveals that what it’s opposition to the Centre might amount to is the substitution of one uniformity for another. The Left Front is preparing a policy document on education which will be sent to all non-BJP-ruled states, and this statement will then be discussed at a conference participated in by all these states. It emerges quite clearly from this that both the pluralist left and the levelling right find the idea of leaving education outside the pale of governmental control quite inconceivable. The entire matter of planning school curricula should be no business of any political party. Schools should be left to themselves in these matters — to determine what is to be taught and in what manner. Boards of education could be perfectly autonomous bodies free from the meddling scrutiny, however high-minded, of political parties and the state. Dogmatism unites every political hue and could make a mess of education.


Christina B. Rocca, the Bush administration’s point person for South Asia woke up in New Delhi on Monday morning, wiser than she was on Saturday when she left her home in Virginia, near Washington, for a three-nation tour of the region. Between her media briefing two days before leaving for New Delhi and her meetings with Indian officials on Monday, Rocca had been somewhat bumpily initiated into the ways of south Asia.

Had it not been for the residual goodwill of Bill Clinton’s presidential trip to India last year and the expectations generated by the April meeting between external affairs minister Jaswant Singh, and President George W. Bush, Rocca’s visit would have, by now, been overrun by controversy.

By the time Rocca arrived in New Delhi, most newspapers in India had misinterpreted the view she expressed last week on Kashmir, which was doggedly consistent with the United States’ policy on the Indo-Pakistan dispute. The Indian media had also grossly exaggerated the statement of her boss, the secretary of state, Colin Powell, on Friday, routinely conveying America’s goodwill for the “improvement of relations” between India and Pakistan.

Sections of the media further seized upon Powell’s use of the word, “balanced”, in describing the objective of the US’s relations with India and Pakistan. All of this prompted a reaction from the spokesperson of the ministry of external affairs on Monday, rejecting what was purported to be a US offer to help in resolving the problems between Islamabad and New Delhi.

Such misconceptions about US policy on south Asia occur because of the popular perception — especially since preparations for Clinton’s trip began in late 1999 — that India is at the heart of US foreign policy. Regrettably, the National Democratic Alliance government, with its political compulsions to look for “achievements” has encouraged such a myth.

After the spate of recent high-level visits from New Delhi to Washington, this columnist went through an exercise of looking up the American schedules of similar visitors from several other countries. The search revealed that official and ministerial visitors from states such as Japan, South Korea, Turkey and Egypt, to take four diverse examples, received the same kind of welcome and similar appointments as visitors from India. The four countries mentioned above are all client states of the US. India is not — at least, not yet. But it shows promise.

The Americans bend over backwards in dealing with client states as long as those states can deliver. It was not long ago that Iran, ruled by Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi, could get almost anything it asked of Washington. Or remember the Philippines, ruled by Ferdinand Marcos? And it was not long ago that Pakistan had the good times in America, which India is now aspiring for. This is not to run down the significance of the meetings which recent visitors from India have had in Washington or to question the assumption that ties with America represent the most important relationship for Indian foreign policy today.

It must be conceded that even five years ago, few visitors from India would have got the reception which Jaswant Singh, Brajesh Mishra or Sonia Gandhi got in Washington. At the same time, it is important that Indians must be aware that such welcome for foreign visitors to America’s national capital is not uncommon. Countries with far less pretensions — or aspirations — than India to big power status are similarly treated in Washington as long as they meet the foreign policy goals of the US and as long as their governments can deliver what America wants.

Rocca’s visit and the media storm in a tea cup on the eve of it provide an opportunity to shed the exaggerated public expectations of the US in India and put into perspective a more realistic assessment of Indo-US relations. Officials of the Bush administration use every possible forum to assert that they have delinked America’s relations with India from its ties with Pakistan, a process which was set in motion by the Clinton administration in its second term.

They also argue that they are not using India as a counter-weight against China. As Rocca summed it up just before leaving for India, “We want to have bilateral relationships that are truly bilateral. We do not intend to view relations with one country through the prism of a third country.”

There is no reason for Indians to doubt the sincerity of these words. And yet, Indians must ask themselves some searching questions if they are not to be disillusioned with America as New Delhi’s ties with Washington move from its honeymoon period of presidential and prime ministerial visits to brass tacks.

The Americans, in all honesty, may not be looking at India as a foil to China in future. But America’s desire to contain China is a fact of realpolitik which will not go away. Besides, the Bush administration is committed, by virtue of its campaign platform, to treating China as a strategic competitor to the US. Now where does that leave India? Does India want a modus vivendi with China? Or does it want to see China contained? If it opts for containment, is it not common sense that New Delhi ought to be working together with Washington and Tokyo towards this objective?

After the nuclear tests, India briefly agreed to lose its innocence about China, but even the Bharatiya Janata Party quickly decided that where Beijing was concerned, discretion was the better part of valour. George Fernandes was one of the few Indian leaders who saw China for what it really is, but a national consensus could not be built around the truths which Fernandes was willing to share with the nation.

China is doing in the Northeast exactly what Pakistan did to India on the Kargil heights, yet India is totally helpless about occupation of its territory as recently as last year. And on top of all this, comes the news which should cause alarm in the ministries of defence and external affairs: that Pakistan has entrusted to China the development of Gwadar port as a naval facility, where the Chinese may eventually have a base.

If after all this, New Delhi still opts for a modus vivendi with Beijing, it is anyone’s guess how Washington will view it. As tensions between Washington and Beijing grow, the US will take the view with regard to India, that “my enemy’s friend is my enemy”. At the very least, the US will be found not quite echoing Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s description of India and America as “natural allies”. After all, it was not long ago that the Americans compiled a list of countries which had consistently voted against the US in the United Nations. On Capitol Hill, they wanted aid to such countries stopped.

And China is not the only challenge which decision-makers in New Delhi will have to cope with in their dealings with Washington as Indo-US relations deepen and acquire more substance.

Whether official America acknowledges it or not, the US is now engaged in a civilizational struggle against Islam. For America, militant Islam is no longer a problem of bombs being thrown at US targets on the other side of the Atlantic. Islam is now the fastest growing religion in America: so the problem has come home and multiplied the urgency of the struggle.

Is India prepared to join America in this fight? As the experience during the 1999 hijacking of the Indian Airlines plane to Kandahar showed, it is one thing to make speeches against Islamic fundamentalism, but quite something else to stand up against religion-sponsored, state-supported terror.

Besides, those in New Delhi who want India and the US to work together against Muslim zealots should pause to learn from Pakistan’s experience. If today, Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif and even Pervez Musharraf have to look over their shoulders as Pakistan’s rulers, it is partly because political leaders in that country were willing to fashion Pakistan after what America desired and project the “Land of the Pure” as a moderate Islamic state. Among other things, it gave the religious right in Pakistan the kind of legitimacy it was looking for.

India too has to think of its Muslim minority. As the Islamic world — though not its leaders — hardens its attitude to the US, it will become well nigh impossible for India, with the second largest Muslim population in the world, to work effectively with the US against militant Islam. And this will not just be an issue of Muslim vote banks for politicians. If India and America actively work together against militant Islam, the fundamentalists can, indeed, make India ungovernable.

Not everyone in the US is unaware of these practical difficulties in the way of realizing the grand vision of Indo-US cooperation. That explains America’s reluctance, for instance, to declare the Lashkar-e-Toiba as a terrorist outfit: like the Clinton administration, its successor government would also like to keep its options open. In part, that is also the convoluted logic behind the delay in withdrawing the remaining sanctions against India.

Rocca is someone who fully understands these geopolitical compulsions. After all, she spent 15 years with the Central Intelligence Agency’s operations directorate, much of that time dealing with Afghanistan. Her visit to south Asia this week should add to the realism on the American side in shaping the Bush administration’s policy for the region.


When laying the foundation stone of the Hirakud dam in 1946, the then governor of the province, Sir Hawthorne Lewis, evinced with great flourish the hope that through the dam “flood, drought and famine will be banished” in the province. It was possibly a similar mix of hubris in technological fixes and sheer ignorance that inspired Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to lay a second foundation stone for the same dam in 1948. The Hirakud dam, in fact, was one of independent India’s first multipurpose river valley schemes with flood control as its primary objective, and which in the initial period of its construction was touted as a “permanent solution” towards preventing floods.

Almost five decades down the line, the official rhetoric of controlling the Mahanadi has been rather unceremoniously abandoned and supplanted instead with a paradoxically sober concern for saving the dam itself from the roaring waters of the Mahanadi river. On July 17, 51 of the dam’s 64 gates were opened, sending nearly 7.85 lakh cusecs of water streaming into the delta because, in the words of D.P. Bagchi, the chief secretary of Orissa, “the dam’s safety was of prime importance”. In effect, the Hirakud dam, instead of holding back flood waters, is now copiously inundating the delta.

To explain this irony by way of excessive precipitation or nature’s wrath would not only be unfairly simplistic, but would also unjustly perpetuate the myth that flood control through embankments and reservoirs is a viable and unavoidable response to inundating rivers. The Orissa delta, much like other deltas in eastern India, has, over the period of a century and a half, actually been transformed from being a flood-dependent ecology to being a flood-vulnerable landscape through a range of technological interventions initiated mainly on the basis of political considerations.

River systems function not only as arteries for draining precipitation but are also significant agents for erosion of soil, its transportation and deposition. The latter task is particularly important for building up deltas and recovering land from the sea. Inundating rivers are also circulation regimes that feed into larger chemical and geomorphological processes. Recent studies have, in fact, shown that the timing and quality of natural flood pulses are vital to regulating a range of biological processes in wetlands.

Unfortunately, time and again floods have been reduced to and treated as merely torrential overflows of water induced by meteorological excess. This is a limited urban-centric view that has been constructed and perpetuated by interests that have wilfully marginalized a whole spectrum of flood utilization practices that were extant for centuries in eastern India.

William Willcocks, a celebrated engineer, in the Thirties delivered a series of lectures in which he described a system of inundation irrigation in eastern India. According to him, a complex network of channels ran carefully along the natural drainage lines of the region and were designed to tap the muddy crest waters of the rivers during periods of flood. The idea behind these channels was the peasant’s need to use the silt to nourish his fields, which then required no artificial manures. In addition, other practices to cope with floods were also resorted to by them, such as evolving strains of rice varieties that could withstand great depths of water, strategic location of housing, the upkeep of drainage lines and so on.

These flood utilization practices, however, have been eliminated by flood control enthusiasts who have pursued policies for insulating lands from natural inundations through embankment construction and other flood control technologies.

This has been followed by the proliferation of urban and rural settlements in the flood plains, the systematic drainage of flood cushions like swamps and other types of wetlands, and the obstruction of natural drainage by a careless location of roads and railway lines. This mindless “development” of the flood plains has now induced unnatural flooding in which most of the damage is being caused by enhanced currents and water-logging. The destruction wrought in the Kosi region in Bihar and in eastern Uttar Pradesh (Gorakhpur) by embankments is a clear testimony to the dangers of interfering with natural drainage by planting obstacles in the flood basin.

In Orissa, the prescient flood committee of 1928 noted early on that floods were inevitable in a deltaic country and it was “useless” to attempt to thwart the “workings of nature” through flood control measures. The 1928, the committee further argued that in Orissa the problem was not how to prevent floods but how to pass them as quickly as possible to the sea and therefore, the solution lay in “removing all obstacles” from the path of the flood waters. The report of the 1928 committee, however, was buried by the politics of the period, which then instead facilitated the construction of the Hirakud dam.

Orissa’s decisionmakers, even today, are fighting shy of attempting a new direction in which the issue of deltaic flooding can be engaged with. Instead, its population, trapped between the hammer of flood control technologies and the anvil of flood relief politics, continues to pay the price. The current floods in Orissa may certainly be one of the worst it has witnessed, but it may not be the last, unless the wrongdoings of the past are corrected and engaged with.

The author is a research fellow, University of California, Berkeley


India has the largest population of street children in the world. At least 18 million children live or work on the streets of urban India, labouring as porters at bus or railway terminals; as mechanics in informal auto-repair shops; as vendors of food, tea, or handmade articles; as street tailors; or as ragpickers, picking through garbage and selling usable materials to local buyers.

Indian street children are routinely detained illegally, beaten and tortured and sometimes killed by the police. Several factors contribute to this phenomenon: police perceptions of street children, widespread corruption and a culture of police violence, the inadequacy and non-implementation of legal safeguards, and the level of impunity that law enforcement officials enjoy. The police generally view street children as vagrants and criminals. While it is true that street children are sometimes involved in petty theft, drug-trafficking, prostitution and other criminal activities, the police tend to assume that whenever a crime is committed on the street, street children are either involved themselves or know the culprit...

Street children are also easy targets. They are young, small, poor, ignorant of their rights and often have no family members who will come to their defence. It does not require much time or effort to detain and beat a child to extract a confession, and the children are unlikely to register formal complaints.

Police have financial incentives to resort to violence against children. Many children report that they were beaten on the street because the police wanted their money. The prospect of being sent to a remand home, the police station or jail, coupled with the threat of brutal treatment, creates a level of fear and intimidation that forces children or in some case, their families, to pay the police or suffer consequences.

Indian law contributes to the problem. Under the Indian Penal Code, anyone over the age of 12 is considered an adult, and ambiguities in the code concerning the ability of the child to be cognizant of a crime have made it possible for children as young as seven to be treated as adults under the law. There are no provisions in the code that prohibit the detention of juveniles in police stations or jails... Moreover, at the remand stage, the law makes no distinction between neglected and delinquent children.

Finally, there is the de facto immunity of police from prosecution. The government of India has known about the extent of custodial abuse, including abuse of children, at least since 1979, when the national police commission issued a devastating indictment of police behaviour. More than a decade and a half later, none of its recommendations has been adopted...

…Human Rights Watch spoke with more than one hundred street children, as well as representatives of non-governmental organizations, social worker, human rights activists, human rights lawyers, and other individuals who work with street children in Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi and Madras. Of the one hundred children interviewed, sixty complained of police abuse in the form of detentions, beatings, extortion or verbal abuse.



Lessons in small town sleaze

Sir — As a female student and teacher I have experienced sexual harassment directly in the academic world (“Measure for measure”, July 8). Open discussions on the topic of sexual harassment clearly make our moral guardians feel uneasy. I have tried to introduce debates in the small town I live in, but the mere mention of the topic seems to hurt people’s finer sensibilities as they do not believe “such things” exist. Sadly, they do — and in our society, male teachers wield a certain power over female students who are yet to break out of the psychological bindings of a teacher-student relationship. In metropolitan cities, the position of the female student may be slightly better, but in smaller towns and rural areas, even the mention of the subject of sexual harassment is taboo. Aveek Sen has indeed done well by writing on a topic that needs debate and discussion in our academic world, and we need to come out with certain solutions for the problem. However, I was deeply disappointed that Sen confined the context of his article to the world he is familiar with. In rural or small-town Bengal, we need to first bring the topic out in the open, discuss it and formulate sensitive and effective rules so that offenders cannot ignore them.

Yours faithfully,
Tuku Dutt, Burdwan

Viewing the General

Sir — General Pervez Musharraf very cleverly utilized the Agra summit to gain popularity with the Pakistanis. The press conference in the auditorium of the Pakistan National Library was obviously held keeping in mind next year’s elections. While least bothered about improving the economic condition of the Pakistani people, he concentrated on playing up the Kashmir issue.

Throughout the press conference, he displayed an open sympathy for the terrorists or “freedom fighters” and did not condemn the killing of civilians on the Indian side of the line of control. He was also completely ignorant about the distress of the common people in other parts of Pakistan. Perhaps one cannot expect a military ruler to understand these aspects of civilian life.

The two points which he tried to stress right from the beginning of the press conference were first, that Kashmir was a disputed territory and not an integral part of India and second, that the terrorist movement in Kashmir was in fact a freedom movement by the Kashmiri people. Since there was no boundary between India and Pakistan in Kashmir, there was no question of cross-border terrorism.

Taking a cue from Pakistan’s outspoken statements, India should also make it clear, especially to General Musharraf, that any further discussion can take place only if the general agrees to stop aiding the killing of people in Kashmir.

Yours faithfully,
B.C. Bhattacharya, Calcutta

Sir — General Musharraf’s breakfast meet with the editors exposed the unscrupulous stand taken by the Pakistani president. It is ironic that the leader of Pakistan, a land that has denied self-governance to its own people, projects itself as a champion for the cause of the people and of the Kashmiris in particular. Does the fact that Pakistan is an Islamic state give it the right to speak on behalf of Kashmir’s Muslim majority?

Based on this logic, India should be the one to speak for the people of Kashmir as we have a larger Muslim population than Pakistan. Will the creation of a new Islamic state out of Kashmir bring any solution to the so-called problems of the Kashmiris? If so, peace would not have remained unknown in west Asia. Equating India’s involvement in the Bangladesh freedom movement with Pakistani sponsorship of cross-border terrorism is incredibly naïve. The movement in Bangladesh was neither triggered nor sponsored by India. It was the influx of millions of refugees crossing the border to India that compelled India to intervene. If Pakistan is so concerned about the Muslims in Kashmir, why is it denying entry to the non-Bengali Muslim refugees in Bangladesh?

Taking Punjab as a case in point, we must recall that when sponsored terrorism in the name of Khalistan stopped, peace and prosperity returned. Musharraf must realize that neither India nor Pakistan can solve the problem of Kashmir without taking into account what the people of Kashmir want. Till that day, Musharraf would do well to keep his dictatorial decisions to himself.

Yours faithfully,
M.K. Ghosh, Kharagpur

Sir — Watching the press meet held by the Pakistan president, General Pervez Musharraf, I was impressed by his suave and cultured manner, which was quite a contrast to the expected image of the ruthless military man. He was articulate, reasonable and easygoing — or so it seemed. Then the veneer cracked. One journalist, a Pakistani at that, was naïve enough to mention the taboo phrase, “cross-border terrorism”, and the general stopped appearing as genial as before. The general’s discomfiture increased when another reporter dared to commend the past efforts of the politically elected Pakistani leaders over the Simla agreement and the Lahore declaration.

The general’s irritation and intolerance with criticism provide a clear insight into his character and his single-minded pursuit of the goal of Kashmir. To judge a person accurately, one has to look at the unrehearsed reactions, when he is caught off-guard, and not only the programmed responses.

Yours faithfully,
S.K. Pitty, via email

Sir — The well-orchestrated press meet held by General Pervez Musharraf on July 20 should not have surprised India. However, the press meet does contain some important lessons for India.

First, India should concentrate on being more pro-active than reactive. Second, we should grab an opportunity like the breakfast meet to ask pertinent questions and not get swayed by the candour and persona of the president. If the president, as he claimed, was ready for any kind of questions then why did we not ask the “uncomfortable” ones over the famous Agra breakfast? Third, let us not look away from the Kashmir issue. Is it not true that if the Kashmir solution is redrawn along the lines suggested by Pakistan then India will have new problems with every community demanding their rightful place? Confidence-building measures are essential and should always be encouraged as a policy. The Pakistani establishment — whether elected or dictatorial — has always failed to reciprocate adequately on the visa, cultural exchanges or humanitarian issues, to name a few. Our moves are now beginning to be taken for granted. This unilateral behaviour should become bilateral.

India should adopt definite measures to counter issues like Kashmir and cross border terrorism. A similar plan on the lines of the “Monroe doctrine” should be drawn up. Terrorism of any kind should be considered as a “non-negotiable” issue. Refusal to bow down to international pressure might help India to get closer to an agreement with Pakistan.

Yours faithfully,
Gaurang Jalan, Calcutta.

Pilgrims’ peril

Sir — With regard to the explosions in Seshnagh, the state and Central government should be held responsible for not providing adequate security measures along the Amarnath pilgrimage route. The Bharatiya Janata Party should be ashamed of the fact that for the last two years, pilgrims on the Amarnath route have been killed.

Instead of depending on the police and the paramilitary forces, the government should ask the army to provide protection through the entire route. The route should also be properly cordoned off and each person should be searched extensively if such tragedies are to be avoided in the future.

Yours faithfully,
Kaustav Sinha Ray, via email

Sir — The massacre of innocent pilgrims en route to Amarnath from Pahalgam in Kashmir by suspected Muslim militants belonging to the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba is indeed the final nail in the coffin after General Pervez Musharraf’s departure.

What needs to be questioned is why, in spite of regular and repeated warnings by prominent militant groups before the failed summit between the Indian prime minister and the Pakistani president, the government was still so callous.

The lax security along the pil- grimage route reflects yet another failure of the Indian army. After such failures, all the government offers in the form of reparation is a high-level security review and a further assurance of safety to the pilgrims. Instead of conducting numerous reviews, the government should simply intensify the security in the area during the pilgrimage.

Yours faithfully,
Sumant Poddar, Calcutta

Sir — The death of 13 people in a terrorist attack at Seshnag on the way to Amarnath on Saturday was a grim reminder that even though there might be tight security it may not be foolproof. Realizing that our security measures aren’t adequate, there is every chance that the terrorists might strike again.

It is obvious that their aim is to disrupt the yatra — a symbol of Kashmiriyat and Hindu-Muslim amity — under any circumstances. To combat these terrorist activities, security forces have to be mounted at the border instead of placing them only along the pilgrimage route. It is time to put into practice what the prime minister claimed at Agra — that the country has the means and the stamina to tackle cross-border terrorism.

Yours faithfully,
D.V. Vamsee Krishna, via email

No casualities

Sir — It was reported incorrectly that five passengers were injured in the derailment of the 118 dn Ranaghat-Lalgola passenger train between Berhampur and Sargachi stations (“5 injured after train derails”, July 17).

None of the passengers had reported any medical injuries to the station managers in Sarganchi, Berhampur Court and Beldanga stations. The team of railway officers who rushed to the scene of the derailment also reported that none of the passengers was injured in the accident.

Yours faithfully,
K. Mukhopadhyaya, Calcutta

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