Hatred and paranoia
Sir — Coincidentally, it was on the same day that William J. Cooper was asked to leave India and the British police swooped down on the north London mosque which is the base of Abu Hamza al-Masri (“Evangelist told to pack up” and “Police storm London mosque in terror raid”, Jan 21). But Cooper’s case is different from the taliban-supporting Muslim cleric’s. While the burgeoning of the West’s paranoia about Islamic fundamentalism post September 11, 2001 is still understandable, what could possibly explain the marching order given to Cooper who attended a gospel ceremony in a small town in Kerala' Was Vivekananda sent back for preaching Hinduism in America, or Asoka’s emissaries for spreading the message of Buddhism in southeast Asia' It must be noted here that the British government has not arrested Abu Hamza. It is one thing to try to prevent another September 11, it is quite another to victimize a foreign national for his religious affiliation.
Gopal Bhattacharya, Calcutta
Sir — The members of the Confederation of Indian Industry live in a fools’ world if they believe the Gujarat riots were a “storm in a tea cup”. It is like the historians’ calling the Holocaust a “detail of history”. But this process of denying that the events in Gujarat hold ominous portents for peace and the stability of India had started very early. This same Narendra Modi who received a hero’s welcome at the recent CII meet had been accused of genocide by some of these trade captains earlier. How then can they go back to business as usual in Gujarat'
In the circumstances, one must appreciate the courage of Jairus Danajee, the activist of the non-government organization, Insaniyat, who posed uncomfortable questions at the CII meet. Danajee was shouted down by these neo-potentates and unceremoniously dragged out by the security men, but that was only to be expected.
Everyone knows that it is the big corporates which run the nation now. The executives who run them are not elected. They are not accountable for any of their actions — whether of commission or of omission — which might lead to violence in the country. Unless these industrialists disassociate themselves from the systematic bloodshed that occured in Gujarat, they might end up encouraging the perpetrators of the violence to repeat the experiment all over the country. And everyone would be losers then. Secular-minded people have already seen how famous names, some very dear to the general public, have succumbed to the blandishments of the saffron mob. At least, industrial leaders should maintain their distance.
Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai
Sir — Will Devasmita Patnaik get away with challenging the Gujarat chief minister (“Dancer puts her foot down on Modi song”, Jan 12)' After all, the mammoth mandate which brought Narendra Modi to power in Gujarat again has given him strong hand to deal with such irritants. And Patnaik insulted Modi by calling attention to the treatment of minorities in Gujarat, just as he was wooing industrialists back to his state.
T.R. Anand, Calcutta
Sir — Voices like that of Jairus Danajee will always haunt Narendra Modi, whether at a CII meet or at the Pravasi Bharatiya Sammelan. Modi might have won an election by inciting communal carnage, but he cannot wash the bloodstains from his hands. Also, the manner in which the industry executives shouted down Danajee and pushed him out was in keeping with the kind of democracy Modi preaches.
Phani Bhusan Saha, Balurghat
Sir — It was not unnatural of Devasmita Patnaik to ask Narendra Modi inconvenient questions at an investors’ meet. After all, non-resident Indians like Patnaik have to face awkward questions about the ill-treatment of minorities in Gujarat. But NRIs should understand that although secularism was inducted into the Indian Constitution to bind together a multi-religious country like India, the feeling of tolerance towards the minorities has not percolated down to the masses.
Govinda Bakshi, Budge Budge
Honour the dead
Sir — Bapi Sen’s shradh ceremony could have been the perfect occasion for Calcutta Police to honour this brave sergeant. But the city police were too busy playing games at their annual sports meet which was being held at a barely-five-minutes driving distance from Sen’s house. They could have taken a lesson from the 83-year old armyman who came all the way from Patna only to salute Sen, a man he did not even know (“Veteran colonel soldiers on to salute Bapi as policemen play”, Jan 19)). It really was a touching gesture. The city police’s callousness will only discourage officers of the calibre of Sen. Perhaps the truth is that people like Sen are never liked by their colleagues because of their honesty to their job. Perhaps, severely punishing the constables who beat Sen to death would undo some of the damage.
Zaki Mubarki, Calcutta
Sir — A policeman saves a woman from the clutches of hooligans, and what does he get in return' Not even the respect he deserves after his death. Of what value then are the dramatic claims of the chief minister and police force seniors after Bapi Sen’s death' It took the army veteran to appreciate Sen’s courage in holding up a mirror to society.
Everyone knew Sen’s shradh was being held on January 18. Why then couldn’t some officers visit the Behala Government Quarters, for a few minutes at least' Yes, the sports meet had been planned earlier, but a half-hour’s delay could not have much dampened spirits.
Sumant Poddar, Calcutta
Sir — In the report, “Last salute to sergeant braveheart” (Jan 7), Bapi Sen’s colleagues lament that his last heroic act would not get him any awards since it happened when he was off-duty. But isn’t a policeman supposed to be on duty all 24 hours' The least Sen deserves is a gallantry award — whatever the services rules say.
Md. Moinuddin, Calcutta
Sir — What did Bapi Sen, by sacrificing his life and leaving behind his bereaved family in misery, teach his fellow citizens' Will this episode be able to rouse the moral sense, especially in the younger generation, or will they take it as a caution never to protest against the injustices of society' The city and the powers-that-be have paid many tributes to the young hero. But the real tribute to him would be to crack down with a heavy hand on eve-teasers in the city.
S.K. Nandi, Bolangir