The train that will not run again
Sir — The gauge conversion for the Katwa-Ahmadpur NG section, a 52 kilometre stretch with seven stations in between, has started. With this, Apu and Durga’s train in Pather Panchali has come to a screeching halt. The sequence in the film taught us to appreciate the beauty of trains. After their first glimpse of a train, the children returned home struck by the wonder of it all. I feel saddened by our lack of concern for heritage. The original track could have been preserved as a relic. This would have been a fitting tribute to the great master of celluloid.
Chameli Pal, Batanagar
Sir — The chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, timed his interview with an Urdu newspaper keeping in mind the forthcoming election in the state (“Sermon greets apology query”, July 27). Modi reportedly stated that if government officials are found guilty, they should be “hanged in the middle of the road”. This statement suggests that the chief minister is mocking the on-going judicial process because the court has not found him guilty of orchestrating the riots even after a decade of investigations. Modi has allegedly utilized the government machinery to systematically remove all the evidence against him. Consequently, he is confident that the investigating agencies would not be able to gather clinching evidence that can go against him. He will therefore be able to remain in power.
The development of Gujarat has provided him with an ideal plank to steer clear of his role in the riots. A shrewd politician and a staunch proponent of Hindutva, the chief minister needs an image-makeover to stake his claim in national politics. But the interview to an Urdu daily at this juncture will not cut much ice. He may not want to apologize for his alleged role in the carnage, but he could at least express regret for what had happened to thousands of Muslims under his chief ministership. In the aftermath of the riots, instead of speaking in a consolatory tone, he allegedly made derogatory remarks against the Muslim community in a number of election rallies. Such rhetoric polarized the electorate further, and earned him a windfall in the form of countless votes. He is resorting to rhetoric again to reap electoral dividends. The tragedy is that he is likely to have his way.
Zulfikhar Akram, Bangalore
Sir — The Gujarat assembly election will be held after a few months. The preparation for the next parliamentary polls is likely to begin some time after that. The allegations against Narendra Modi have been dismissed by the courts. Modi is now focussing to be the next prime minister. His interview to an Urdu publication was given to send a message to the secular vote bank.
Mukul Ranjan Chakraborty, Calcutta
Sir — Citizens have been left disappointed after coming to know of the police refusing to help a woman who was raped near the Santragachhi railway station. Bleeding profusely, the victim went to the police station to file a first information report but a general diary was lodged instead. Such behaviour is unacceptable in a civilized society. Atrocities against women take place because of the indifference shown by the police. If citizens are to keep their faith in the force, the police will have to extend their helping hand to protect the public.
Sherpur, South 24 Parganas