Sir — Thank god for small mercies. We have only guest appearances of Mamata Banerjee in the law courts, and that too to save her part of the plot (“Mamata rules, mayor retreats”, June 11). It is no longer a suspicion that the assault of Debasis Som had been a carefully constructed plan to set the order right in the mayor’s council. It is the mayor’s fiefdom no doubt, but the mayor just could not forget his party’s matriarch. That was the bottomline of the grand drama staged in the corporation early this week. But do we need to have them at such regular intervals' Mamata, only some weeks ago, was the jealous didi taking away the prized piece of ministerial cake from a brother, never mind if that entailed that she had to part with hers as well. And this week she is the avenging didi, complete in lawyer’s garb, to reinstate her men and her writ in the only political space she believes is her own. The problem is, no matter what the role, Mamata is always upstaged.
J. Samaddar, Calcutta
Sir — What a way to celebrate 150 years of the Indian Railways (“No food, water on late Rajdhani”, June 7)! The Indian Railways had asked for suggestions on improving their services and increasing their revenue from passengers in an advertisement issued a few months back. I had sent eight suggestions myself. I received a curt reply after a long time against only one of my suggestions — allowing fewer taxis in the parking space between platforms 8 and 9 inside the old station — stating the railways’ inability to accept it. The Indian Railways always has its own reasons for functioning the way it does. Little wonder it will have some such reason to answer for the suffering passengers of the Rajdhani Express went through this time.
It is criminal to keep anyone without food and water. Even criminals in jails are allowed these. But railway passengers seem to be in a worse state than those jailed. Yet the railway authorities knew well in advance that the train could be late due to the repairs being undertaken on the line used by the derailed Magadh Express earlier in the week. But no efforts were made to stock snacks or even arrange for water. Worse, the train did not even stop at Asansol, where it was supposed to pick up some food and water. Had the authorities been so confident of their inability to make preparations for 750 passengers, they could have asked the vendors on the station to prepare food for the passengers. The railway would have borne the price. Moreover, it is ridiculous to make a claim that 750 bottles of mineral water could not be arranged from the markets of a town as large as Asansol. If this is the treatment meted out to those travelling in an expensive train like Rajdhani, one could guess what is happening in the lesser known trains.
Govind Das Dujari, Calcutta
Sir — Of late, the Rajdhani Express has hit the headlines with far more regularity than one would hope for from a train that claims to be one of the best India has. But passengers cannot be expected to shelve out their moolah for a joyless ride, or for a disaster at midnight.
Anshuman Singh, Calcutta
Sir — If trains of the Indian Railways are not throwing themselves from broken bridges, they are keeping their passengers without food or water. Hasn’t the railways given us enough reasons to think twice before buying a railway ticket' If passengers are denied basic necessities like food and water in a situation where they are already paying for the railways’ mismanagement, why should they continue to pay such high fares' What would have happened had there been casualties on the train' Another inquiry that would never see the light of day'
Sumant Poddar, Calcutta
Sir — Many long distance trains do not have pantry cars as in the case of the Chennai Mail and Shipra Express while some of the summer specials run the Indian Railways have them. What is basic criterion' Yet the railways found itself delivered of all sin by the president’s decision to travel by it.
Sir — Indian Railways will learn it the hard way once passengers start suing it for every inconvenience it causes them. It is time to have an active passengers’ union.
S. Samanta, Calcutta
Don’t spoil the show
Sir — Mobile phones prove their usefulness in times of emergency. But not many would share the same view. At the screening of Goutam Ghosh’s much acclaimed, Abar Aronye, I realized the nuisance value of the instruments was tremendous. The attention of the audience constantly wavered in between the numerous ringtones that emanated from different corners of the hall. What was most disgusting was that while some owners of the gadget preferred to sit back in their seats and respond to the calls, the “thoughtful” others shuffled their way out in the dark to answer the call much to the inconvenience of the viewers. Cinema hall owners should forbid the use of mobile phones inside the hall and have the caution printed on tickets.
Dipankar Bera, Howrah
Sir — Sumant Poddar writes in “Welcome home” (June 10) that Bollywood “rules” Indian cinema. If this had indeed been the case, how would one explain the world wide acclaim for Satyajit Ray' Ray was adjudged the best Indian director by the British Film Institute polls recently. Has any Bollywood director been able to match the maestro in the sheer number of awards, let alone prestige, bestowed on him' Bollywood only knows awards sponsored by gutkha companies. There is no doubt however that with the underworld money, Bollywood has been trying its best to rule Indian cinema. But it has not succeeded in its mission. The day it does, it will be the death of cinema in India.