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No particular concern

Sir — In his eagerness to take a swipe at the Bharatiya Janata Party before the forthcoming assembly elections in Gujarat, Shankersinh Vaghela has virtually invited the United States of America to declare India a “country of particular concern” (“Vaghela swims against Delhi tide”, Oct 24). Vaghela’s invitation to the US commission on international religious freedom to visit India after the Congress comes to power was ill-timed and unfortunate. Besides tarnishing India’s secular credentials, a CPC branding could also stem the flow of foreign capital. But why is Vaghela taking a Congress victory for granted'

Yours faithfully,
Nisha De, Calcutta


Dangerous hints

Sir — The Shiv Sena chief, Bal Thackeray, may not be entirely wrong in suggesting that Hindus should form suicide squads to deal with Islamic terrorism (“Terror chief”, Oct 21). However, he should have refrained from asking the Indian prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, to declare India a Hindu rashtra.

Although the Maharashtra government has registered a case against Thackeray under section 153A of the Indian penal code, it is doubtful whether it will have the courage to arrest him on Maharashtrian soil. Needless to say, Thackeray’s arrest will be followed by large-scale violence in the entire state. Will the Vilasrao Deshmukh government be willing to risk such an event'

Yours faithfully,
T.R. Anand, Sarangabad


Sir — On the face of it, Bal Thackeray’s statement is quite outrageous. But beneath what meets the eye is an unpleasant truth — that the state is impotent when it comes to dealing with terrorists and cannot be depended upon to protect the lives and property of ordinary citizens. This is obvious from the fact that criminals like Veerappan are moving about freely. Not only has he eluded the special task forces that were created to catch him, he has forced successive governments to negotiate with him. The Centre should make it a policy not to negotiate with kidnappers or terrorists.

Yours faithfully,
C.V.K. Moorthy, Sandur


Sir — The saffron brigade seems to be under the false impression that it represents the entire Hindu community and hence has the right to advise the state and Central governments on terrorists in general and Pakistan in particular.

In the past, Bal Thackeray has not minced words while stating that Muslims who owe allegiance to Pakistan (or for that matter, Bangladesh) should leave India for good. What about Roman Catholics who accept the Pope as their spiritual leader' Should they leave the country for Rome' What should orthodox Hindus who may not like the secular Constitution of India do' Should they, along with the Shiv Sena chief, be banished to Nepal, the only Hindu kingdom in the world' The only people left in India would be the agnostics, atheists and rationalists. Does Thackeray have in mind a scenario like this'

Yours faithfully,
K. R. Rangaswamy, Madison, US


Sir — Bal Thackeray was at his provocative best while asking Hindus to form suicide squads to counter the fidayeen attacks of the jihadis. By criticizing him, the opposition parties have given his comments a communal colour. Thackeray’s habit of shooting off his mouth is well known. Given that, his remarks should ideally have been ignored.

Yours faithfully,
Govind Das Dujari, Calcutta


Parting shot

Sir — The legislation proposed by the Andhra Pradesh health minister, K. Siva Prasad Rao, making the AIDS test mandatory for all persons of marriageable age, is a pragmatic step in a country where the threat of the AIDS epidemic is growing by leaps and bounds and yet, is being lackadaisically approached by both citizens and politicians.

With four lakh HIV positive cases, Andhra Pradesh has the second largest number of AIDS patients in the country. The Union cabinet had earlier cleared the national AIDS policy, which made provisions to the effect that any one partner entering into a marital relationship can freely ask for an AIDS-free certificate from the other before tying the knot. Other states too should think along similar lines to deal with the menace of AIDS.

Yours faithfully,
D.V. Vamsee Krishna, Bhubaneswar


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