Sir — The Mel Gibson-financed film, The Passion”, has been dubbed as rabidly anti-Semitic (“Gibson gets positive about Passion”, August 7). In today’s world, freedom of expression is a highly endangered right. The spirit of intolerance has seeped into the relatively secular spheres like arts and entertainment. The problem faced by Gibson is by no means rare. Scores of international and national filmmakers (Mira Nair, Anant Patwardhan to name just two) will agree that it is getting increasingly difficult to make independent films without attracting hostile reactions. It is ironic that the film industry in the world’s two largest democracies, India and the United States of America, where the right of expression is constitutionally enshrined, has to face such problems. The authorities should ensure that artistic freedom is not held at gunpoint by parochial and sectarian forces, that is as long as they are not misused.
Abhimanyu Sen, Calcutta
Sir — The incident at Jalpaiguri Government Engineering College proves that the educational authorities have failed to exorcise the ghost of ragging from educational institutions in West Bengal (“Ragging horror at tech college”, August 7). Everytime the controversy raises its ugly head, a conventional inquiry is held. In most cases, matters end with the suspension or rustication of one or more students, but criminal proceedings against them are rarely implemented.
The present incident is a clear case of attempted murder — the murder not only of Sayandip Bandopadhyay, but also the hopes of a thousand Sayandip and those of their parents. Therefore, we expect the state education department to hand out exemplary punishment to the culprits involved. Criminal proceedings should be undertaken immediately so that this heinous crime is not erased from public memory. But unless we are able to locate the actual reasons behind such behavioural disorder of some students, the harassment of Sayandips will continue unchecked.
Ramen Mallik, Calcutta
Sir — It is shameful that while Qutbuddin Ansari is being wooed to come and settle in Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s Bengal “without fear”, the state educational authorities fail to guarantee the safety of meritorious students in the engineering colleges of the state. Certain measures have become indispensable after the incident. The four perverts who tortured Sayandip Bandopadhyay may have been expelled from the Jalpaiguri college, but the principal, S.S. Chatterjee, who tried to hush up the matter, has not. This incompetent head of the college must be sacked. Special teams consisting of police officers and educationists should regularly go around the engineering and medical colleges in the state to avoid such incidents from recurring.
Subha Prasad Mookerjee, Calcutta
Sir — The recent ragging case in Jalpaiguri shows that despite denials from government authorities, the menace of ragging still rages in the state (“Ragged boy runs into transfer hurdle”, August 9). Students reach the government engineering colleges after a gruelling time. If they get such a terrible reception from their seniors, what values will they pass on to their juniors' The brutal assault has shattered the faith of Sayandip Bandopadhyay who has decided to quit Jalpaiguri Government Engineering College and seek admission in the engineering department of Jadavpur University. But his hopes have been dashed again by the government which has refused to accommodate him. The director of technical education, Amalendu Basu, feels that Sayandip should continue his education at the Jalpaiguri college. But he is mistaken. How can someone continue to study at a place where there is no sense of security' Will the college take responsibility if the incident is repeated' It is the state’s responsibility to see to it that Sayandip is not inconvenienced any more.
Sumant Poddar, Calcutta
Sir — The recent incidents of ragging at the Jalpaiguri Government Engineering College and at the Indian Statistical Institute are shocking. The methods adopted to torture first year students by the seniors transcend all norms of civilized behaviour. The authorities of both the colleges have feigned ignorance about the incidents and have tried to shield the erring students. Both the boys who were physically and mentally assaulted are in a state of shock. Shouldn’t the state government compensate them'
S. Ram, Calcutta
Sir — The editorial, “Vicious fun” (August 11), tries to find out the reason why freshers are ragged by their seniors. Ragging is a complex psychological problem. Hence, it needs to be dealt in the right perspective by the heads of educational institutions. Mere formation of anti-ragging committees will not serve any purpose. Strict vigil and proper counselling of students seem to be the need of the hour.
Pabitra Kumar Bhaumik, Calcutta
Sir — It is strange how the entire Jalpaiguri Government Engineering College has turned against Sayandip Bandopadhyay, the victim (“Students doubt tale of torture”, August 13). But if college students and their families turn a deaf ear to the problem which can affect them also, is there any hope for this state'
Priyanka Mukherjee, Hooghly
Sir — Arnold Schwarznegger may yet eat humble pie in the great Californian race for governorship (“California race hots up with 80 in fray”, August 13). Firstly, despite his huge fan following, the actor is still a green horn in American politics. And second, his pledges to effect a turnaround in the struggling Californian economy has found few takers among his electorate. People need more than a reel life Terminator to solve their economic problems.
Debarshi Chatterjee, Calcutta