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Convicted for life

Sir — Varuna Verma’s post-mortem of Shivani Bhatnagar tears the dead journalist to pieces (“Being Shivani”, Aug 25). Verma gathers — from jealous rivals, typical guests at weddings, political scums and normal pyschiatrists — what is paraded as information to prove that Shivani, perhaps, deserved to die. All because she was “ambitious”, ready to get her scoop by means fair and foul (even if that meant riding roughshod over her predominantly male colleagues and stealing diaries from politicians), unwilling to conform to the societal rules for the blushing bride at the wedding reception and so on. Shivani’s sins were truly great, so much so that even her strangely (Verma makes it appear so) steadfast love for her child could not redeem her. But don’t men sometimes employ worse means to get to the headlines' Didn’t the Tehelka reporters use women as bait for the politicos' Why did Shivani have to die for living the “fast-paced” life of a successful journalist'

Yours faithfully,
J. Acharya, Calcutta


Wounds that won’t heal

Sir — Only days back, the Shiv Sena chief, Balasaheb Thackeray, argued that if elections could be held in Jammu and Kashmir, the election commission might as well allow elections to be held in Gujarat (“Sena backs Delhi on Gujarat, not on scam”, Aug 11). How could Thackeray even think of comparing the situation in Jammu and Kashmir with that in Gujarat' The former has been troubled by terrorism for more than two decades now, but the wound inflicted on Gujarat by the madness of February-March is still fresh. The people of Gujarat, especially the minority community, are still in a state of shock. Almost the entire Muslim community in the state will not be able to vote as they are mentally and financially devastated. Their houses have been destroyed, their family members have been killed and they are yet to be rehabilitated. How could anyone think of elections in Gujarat'

Perhaps Thackeray, by his support for the elections is trying to achieve for Gujarat what he could not achieve through the 1992 Mumbai riots for Maharashtra — to perpetually keep Muslims under the Hindu thumb.

Yours faithfully
Wasim Ahmed, Calcutta


Sir — The report, “Kashmir forces play card trick on voters” (Aug 15), which alleges that security forces are deliberately tearing up voters’ identity cards to create an artificial demand for the government document as an indicator of the positive public response towards elections, is really disturbing. This sort of news is likely to create more suspicion about government motives among the Kashmiri people and the international community. How can the Indian authorities defend their claim of free and fair polls when such incidents continue to happen' The government should allow the polls to be held under international observation and, if needed, under a neutral body like the United Nations. J.M. Lyngdoh might disagree, but the polls in Kashmir need to be certified by the “white people” to be acceptable to Kashmiris and the people of the world.

Yours faithfully,
Kalyan Ghosh, Calcutta


Sir — Nobody has ever made an issue

of visiting the camps of the lakhs of Kashmiri Hindus hounded out of the Muslim-dominant Kashmir valley. Nor has any chief election commissioner dared to question how elections can be held in that state unless the status of this voiceless minority is restored to some semblance of normalcy. But now over the issue of a few thousand homeless, elections are being denied in Gujarat. Double standards of the secularists really bother.

Yours faithfully,
Udita Agrawal, New Delhi


Sir — The sangh parivar should be told that the situation in Gujarat is vastly different from that in Kashmir. The Gujarat massacre was a state-sponsored pogrom, while the situation in Kashmir has been created by externally-sponsored terrorists. In the former case, the state remains an active abettor of communal violence.

The Election Commission’s judgment on Gujarat cannot be countered simply by the fact that there are 2 lakh displaced Kashmiri Pandits in Jammu and Kashmir. In Kashmir, the administration failed to provide adequate security to the Hindus, forcing them to disperse. In Gujarat, the administration actively participated in the dispersal of the Muslim community. In both cases, the administration failed to carry out its obligation to the people.

Yours faithfully,
Partho Datta, Calcutta


Outside view

Sir — Being a resident of the United Kingdom for more than 4 years now, I am out of touch with the medical fraternity in Calcutta. Therefore, it was only with dismay that I read about the Anuradha Saha case in which eminent physicians of the city were convicted of negligence. The distrust that patients and their families have for doctors is evident from the letters published by The Telegraph.

Among the many things we have learnt during our training in the UK is the importance of good record-keeping. Documentation is as important as good clinical acumen. I therefore appreciate the effort of Niladri Shekhar Pal to document the truth (“Booked for going by the book”, Aug 21). Instead of slapping a show cause notice on him, the authorities should have enquired about the absence of the other doctors. In the UK, Pal’s efficient documentation would have been lauded and the non-available doctors showcaused.

There are a few points which are not very clear from the report. If the situation of the patient was critical, the on-call consultant physician should have been contacted. Was this attempted' The patient died three days after admission. I am not convinced from the report that the initial three to four hour delay in making a crucial decision resulted in patient’s demise three days later.

Was a post-mortem conducted to determine the actual cause of death' If the director of medical education, Chittaranjan Maiti, thinks that there is nothing wrong with what Pal did, why did he not intervene and stop Pal being punished. Why is the college council demanding a “written apology” from Pal' Or is there more to this incident than what we can see '

Yours faithfully,
Somaditya Bandyopadhyay, Durham, UK


Sir — S.L. Rao’s column, “Doctor round the corner” (Aug 12), is timely and well-written. However, the survey conducted by the National Council for Applied Economic Research, which Rao refers to, overlooks the other massive problem of uncontrolled “malpractice” that cripples the private healthcare system in India. It was emphasized that the “quality” of healthcare needs to be strictly monitored. How can a system be monitored when the primary monitoring tool is grossly flawed'

The principal health regulatory agency in India, that is, the state medical council, works for the medicos and not the patients. It is common knowledge that there are hardly any checks and balances for delinquent doctors in the country. A major overhaul is needed for the devious medical councils to make the healthcare engine in India run properly.

Yours faithfully,
Kunal Saha, Ohio, US


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