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A chief minister’s elephantine ego

Sir — It is not new for the Tamil Nadu chief minster, J. Jayalalithaa, to devise roles for herself. If she is a noble benefactor bringing together loved ones at one time, she is the cruel administrator some other time, dismissing employees at random. “Jaya joy for jaded jumbos” (August 28) brings to the fore Amma in another avatar. This time the object of her sudden outburst of sympathy are the overworked pachyderms of Tamil Nadu’s many temples, never mind if Jayalalithaa ends up appearing a trifle too melodramatic for a ruler who has only just disciplined her unruly workers with an iron hand. There are several questions that crop up. By granting the elephants a month’s “holiday”, what change does the chief minister hope to affect in their condition' And who said the elephants in the temples were “overworked” in the first place' The elephants work for a fixed number of hours and serve mainly as a decorative aspect of the temple. In any case, they are much better off than their human counterparts in the state’s government offices who, unlike the elephants under state care, might have to forego their pension in old age.

Yours faithfully,
Nabanita Ganguly, Calcutta


Survival strategies

Sir — The recent bomb blasts in Mumbai have amply proved that the Indian intelligence agencies are not worth their salt (“Intelligence gap glare on sleuths”, August 27). They have learnt no lessons from the past. Since the serial blasts of 1993 in the city, there have been repeated bomb attacks, growing in frequency over the past six months. Yet very few have been arrested and nothing concrete has been yielded by investigations into the attacks.

It is possible that Islamic fundamentalists are trying to destabilize India, as the deputy prime minister has alleged. But the war against them cannot be won without infiltrating their network. This requires micro-level investigations, as conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation recently that led to the arrest of Hemant Lakhani, one of the arms suppliers to al Qaida, in the United States of America.

Every terrorist strike in the heart of India needs meticulous planning involving a number of Indian nationals. The intelligence agencies have to crack this linkage. Since India is hemmed in by hostile Islamic nations in the east and west and a belligerent China in the north, it needs a strong secret service to augment its armed and the police forces. Perhaps it is not too late to reorganize our intelligence agencies.

Yours faithfully,
Shivaji K. Moitra, Kharagpur


Sir — The twin blasts which rocked Zaveri Bazar and the Gateway of India in Mumbai, killing 50 persons and injuring many others, did not come as a surprise. The incident was preceded by similar, though less devastating, bomb explosions which are clearly in retaliation to the Gujarat riots. The modus operandi and prima facie findings of the twin blasts clearly indicate the involvement of the Students Islamic Movement of India and the Laskhar-e-Toiba. However, what came as a rude shock was the intensity of the blasts and the huge amount of high-quality explosives used. The bombings have also brought another bad news, “RDX stink in explosions, after ten years” (August 28). The material was not found in the five previous blasts.

Political parties, instead of engaging in mud-slinging matches should work as a cohesive group and fully co-operate with the government to render all help possible to the beleaguered population in the city. Debates over which party should hold the reins in the state can be held later.

Yours faithfully,
Srinivasan Balakrishnan, Jamshedpur


Sir — Shobhaa Dé is without doubt a beautiful and gifted lady. But that should not have been reason enough to put her column on the front page of The Telegraph (“Is my neighbour the enemy, asks Mumbai”, August 27). The problem with Dé is that she consumed more newsprint to brandish her high-society status than devote it to the blasts. Readers were hard put to find even one line being devoted to her commiseration with the dead and injured. We would in fact be happy to know what exactly Dé achieved by “rushing to the scene of the carnage'” Did she even offer to ferry the injured to the hospital or sit down to offer solace' If Indian ministers are at fault, shouldn’t the likes of Dé pause to ponder on the fact that they too had a hand in electing these men to the office'

It would be worthwhile if The Telegraph exercised better judgment and devoted its columns to highlight the anguish of a mother who has lost her son, or a wife whose husband has been blown up than invite the media-savvy Dés to honour the front page of the newspaper.

Yours faithfully,
V. Nagarajan, Jamshedpur


Sir — The blasts in Mumbai once again prove that it is time the Indian government started sincere and meaningful dialogue with Pakistan to settle disputes. There should be no more dilly-dallying on flimsy grounds like cross-border terrorism. Serious attempts need to be made towards a comprehensive settlement of all issues including, Kashmir. Within India, politicians have to stop trying to gain political mileage out of dead bodies. When bilateral relations do not work out, the intervention of a third party becomes necessary. India should climb down from its stubborn stand on third party intervention and allow foreign nations to bring about a peaceful solution to its problems with Pakistan.

Yours faithfully,
Kalyan Ghosh, Calcutta


Sir — The Mumbai bomb blasts have made it abundantly clear that Pakistan, led by Pervez Musharraf, is determined to continue abetting cross-border terrorism in India. The intention of these blasts was undoubtedly to ignite communal riots. Fortunately, the plan has misfired.

Yours faithfully,
Govind Das Dujari, Calcutta


Sir — Mumbai has been witnessing serial bombings over the last several months as facts are being suppressed and the face of the real culprit is being veiled deliberately. It is widely believed that both the city administration and security authorities are fully aware of the aggressors. But they seem either too afraid to follow up the leads or find it convenient to shield the criminals in order to tide over the immediate crisis. The corruption of communalized politics has indeed penetrated deep into India.

Yours faithfully,
Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai


Sir — The cowardly bomb attack in Mumbai once again demonstrates the inefficacy of violence and revenge to affect any change. Terrorists have tried arson, rape, murder and other methods to fulfil their agenda. Why don’t they try peaceful methods for a change'

Yours faithfully,
Shailesh Gandhi, Mumbai


Sir — The suspected involvement of the Pakistan-trained terrorist outfit, Lashkar-e-Toiba, in the recent Mumbai blasts is perhaps the last straw on the camel’s back. There should no longer be doubts about Pakistan’s role in fostering trouble in India. Should the United States of America still continue its alliance with Pakistan'

Yours faithfully,
R. Sekar, Angul


Sir — What qualitative difference is there between the Godhra carnage and the twin blasts of Mumbai' Both were the handiwork of a group of disgruntled terrorists. Yet, while Godhra sparked off a riot in Gujarat, the mayhem in Mumbai remains a law and order problem with the distinct possibility that more such acts of terrorism would follow.

Yours faithfully,
Shyamal Chakrabarti, Kharagpur


Sir — The manner in which the hospitals in Mumbai tackled the crisis triggered by the twin blasts in the city deserves praise (“Wiser after ’93, hospitals rise to the crisis”, August 26). Unfortunately, the capacity to deal with a similar situation is absent in most other medical institutions in India. Health centres must always be on the alert and there should be requisite infrastructure provided to them to deal with such situation. There should be a dedicated staff in a state of mental preparedness. The government should have a contingency plan to tackle such unnatural calamities in the future.

Yours faithfully,
Aruni Mukhopadhay, Calcutta


Parting shot

Sir — Whenever any Pakistani delegation has visited India, the members of the government and other delegates have made it a point to visit places in India connected with Islamic religion and culture like Ajmer Sherif, the Taj Mahal, Jamia mosque and others. Yet when Indian delegations visit Pakistan they take no effort to visit places connected with the Hindu culture or places connected with Indian culture and religion like Gandhara, Sadhbelo in Sukkur, the Henglaj Devi temple in Baluchistan which is 320 kilometres away from Karachi. One wonders what could be the reason!

Yours faithfully,
Bharat Kumar, Karachi


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