Catch them young
Sir — Terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir is getting younger by the day — more and more child warriors are being drafted into militant groups in the name of jihad (“Terror catches ’em young in valley of fear”, Oct 3). The impressionable minds of children make them an easy target for intimidation, and more important, indoctrination. To root out the spectre of child militancy in Kashmir, the Centre first needs to start working on the needs of the young. More schools, hospitals and jobs would stem the tide of young recruits. Special counselling centres should be set up to heal the mental scars of a generation of children who have lost their loved ones in the violence. The army should also undertake confidence-building measures so that it is looked upon as a role model. Although it is a difficult proposition, the army should seek more recruits from among the Kashmiris, particularly from the minority community.
Akash Ganguly, Calcutta
Sir — The landmark ruling of the Calcutta high court judge, Amitava Lala, that no rally or procession can be held in the city on week days comes a little late in the day for those who have grown up in the city in which such inconveniences have become a part and parcel of daily life (“Weekday ban in capital of rallies”, Sept 30). The Communist Party of India (Marxist) is, predictably, up in arms against the judgment as it puts severe restrictions on its waywardness. But both the party and its leaders should answer a question: has their adopted mode of protest solved anything' Has it improved the deteriorating industrial situation in the state' Has it forced leaders whose effigies have been regularly burnt to backtrack on any of their decisions' Most important, has it even marginally alleviated any of the common man’s problems' Calcuttans should rally around Lala to put a stop to such meaningless political rituals.
Soma Sanyal, Bloomington, US
Sir — The editorial, “Rights ruling” (“Sept 30”), has brought up many pertinent points, the most important being its observation that “A concrete line of action may help, but successful implementation — if that happens — will show results only after a while”. Truly, there is a huge chasm between such an order and its execution. West Bengal has been witness to many such landmark judgments in the past — clearing pavements of hawkers and other encroachments, imposition of fines for spitting or urinating in public places, punctual attendance of government employees to name a few. The failure to translate the words into action has defeated the very purpose for which the verdicts had been passed.
Bijit K. Sarkar, Calcutta
Sir — The recent high court judgment against all processions and rallies in Calcutta, together with the many bindings the verdict imposes on the rallyists, is the right medicine for insensate political leaders. Though the order is yet to be made public, it comes as a triumphant move for the long-suffering Calcuttan who has perennially been troubled by the endless processions on the streets. These have often made it impossible for him to visit near and dear ones or to miss a crucial appointment or an important examination. It is time for this monstrosity to stop.
Nabendu Pandey, via email
Sir — It is unfortunate that the right to freedom of expression enshrined in the Constitution had to be so misinterpreted and misused by politicians and their cronies, forcing the courts to intervene. It is becoming increasingly difficult for freedom and democracy to coexist. We should realize that it is next to impossible to even try and attempt to accommodate the opinions of different political parties. Which is why the court order needs to be heeded. However, given the recalcitrance of the ruling party, we seem to be headed for an impasse.
Jai Sanyal, New York
Sir — Amitava Lala’s directive to the state government to restrict meetings and rallies to weekends and within a given hour is likely to offer partial relief to the public. Accidents, heart attacks and other emergencies do not occur within some specific hours of the day. Corporate houses follow a six-day working schedule, which involves reporting to work on Saturdays. Moreover, a number of individuals are engaged in recreational activities after a week’s hard work during a period which has been slotted for rallies and processions. Rallies and meetings in the city should be banned altogether and any party that opposes this ban should be branded anti-people.
Asit Kumar Mitra, Calcutta
Sir — It is amusing, and at the same time sad, to see Chief Minister Budhadeb Bhattacharjee pleading with industrialists for more investments in the state, and yet pushing for a quick reversal of a recent court ruling that bans rallies in the city on weekdays. The chief minister should realize that businessmen are willing to put their money in a city which works, not one where precious man-hours are lost due to political rallies and processions. Unless his government honours the judicial verdict, the dream of turning the state into a hub of industrial activity is likely to remain unfulfilled.
R.B. Easwaran, Chennai
Sir — The judiciary is the custodian of our basic constitutional rights, one of which is the right to protest in a democratic manner. Amitava Lala’s verdict is an infringement on this basic tenet of democracy. The people and the political parties should come together to contest this verdict.
Shameek Bose, Calcutta
Sir — I congratulate Amitava Lala for the excellent judgment on rallies. He has had the courage to make this a most agreeable decision for the people of Calcutta. The judgment has covered in-depth various issues pertaining to rallies. Had it not been for Lala, Calcuttans would have continued to suffer from rallies. The judgment will help change the public perception of Calcutta outside the state. Frequent bandhs and rallies have contributed to the poor image of the city. It is ironic that although it is the duty of the state government to prevent the dislocation of public life, the court has had to step in to save the people of Calcutta from the aberration of rallies.
G.K. Bhagat, Calcutta
Sir — Given the political opposition to it, it is unlikely that Amitava Lala’s order will see the light of day.
J. Acharya, Calcutta