Visited by disapproval
Sir — The Bush administration’s apprehensions — on the basis of which the planned American trip of the Prince of Wales has been cancelled — that the prince’s anti-war views would not go down well with Americans is sheer hogwash. There are a few more Americans opposed to the Iraq war than the American president would care to admit. But even more outrageous than the United States of America’s hush-hush advice to the British royal family is the fact that Tony Blair’s government chose to take it lying down. The least that it could have done is made Britain’s displeasure known to the American president, and publicly so that the ploy of keeping the whole thing a secret could be foiled. But of course, for Blair and his men, the friendship of George W. Bush is a matter of greater priority than the honour and dignity of the royal family. For Prince Charles, however, the American decision will give his sagging popularity a surprise boost, and he should not mind that.
S. Lal, New Delhi
Sir — The order issued by the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court to the Archaeological Survey of India with respect to the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid issue will only create more complications before the upcoming polls (“ASI ordered to take up excavation at disputed site”, March 6).
No political party wants to miss the opportunity to make this issue part of their electoral agenda. Consequently, the findings of the excavation will be crucial for all the parties, which will try to manipulate the excavations to suit their respective stances. Besides, there is every possibility that whatever the findings, communal feelings could run out of control. The National Democratic Alliance should take enough precautionary measures to prevent history from repeating itself.
Bijoy Ranjan Dey, Tinsukia
Sir — It is beyond question that many of the Hindu temples in India were vandalized by Muslim invaders (“Under the arches”, March 7). But this is no reason to pick out a particular structure and start excavating underneath it. What if other temples and mosques come up with such demands after this precedent. Is this what the Archaeological Survey of India is supposed to expend its energies on'
The demolition of the Babri Masjid was an aberration and should be now forgotten. In fact, the status quo of all places of worship should be continued as on August 15, 1947, the day of India’s independence.
There are hundreds of temples all over the country which are poorly maintained and almost in ruins. The government should concentrate on their maintenance, rather than picking on issues which lead to unnecessary controversy. India cannot afford to squander its meagre resources on building new temples, which will only serve to add fuel to the simmering communal disharmony in the country. Else, a referendum could be conducted to find out whether Indians want a revival of the issue.
C.V.K. Moorthy, Sandoor
Sir — The Allahabad high court’s order to the ASI, to excavate the Babri Masjid site to establish whether a temple was built before the mosque, is a futile exercise. If, after the excavation, no temple ruins are found, the demolished mosque would probably still not be rebuilt for fear of Hindu agitation. On the other hand, if remains of a temple are actually dug out, it is likely that the sangh parivar will suggest that similar excavations be carried out at other controversial sites.
If we apply the same policy elsewhere, many Hindu temples built by demolishing Buddhist shrines would have to be razed to the ground.
Kajal Chatterjee, Sodepur
Sir — The Allahabad high court’s order on the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya goes to show the commitment of the judiciary in resolving the issue (“Court digs deep at Ayodhya site”, March 6). For those who were feeling that the courts are shying away from pronouncing on the religious dispute, this will come as an assurance.
After reams of newsprint have been spent, one hopes that the excavations will bring about an amicable solution to the bitter conflict.
Jang Bahadur Singh, Jamshedpur
Sir — The judiciary may well have directed the ASI to excavate the Babri Masjid site and make its findings public. But it cannot make the majority community, the sangh parivar in particular, give up its demand for a temple on the site if the findings prove that the mosque ought to be restored to its place. At most, the courts can direct the state governments and the Centre to implement its order. But of course, those governments with saffron leanings can always take recourse to the excuse that they cannot go against the wishes of the people. This is why one cannot pin one’s hopes on the latest instance of judicial initiative.
Mohammed Khalique, Calcutta
Sir — The recent mushrooming of machh-bhaat hotels, catering mainly to taxi drivers, even in residential localities is turning out to be a menace. As it is, Calcutta provides little pavement-space to its pedestrians. With these shanties all over the place now, the hapless pedestrians will spill into the roads even more, increasing chances of accidents. The mayor, busy hiking taxes and imposing new ones, does not seem to be interested in giving the citizens their taxes’ worth.
Sandeep Sethi, Calcutta