The price of folly
Sir — Every few days, workers of some political party or the other take out a march and sit in a dharna outside the American embassy building in New Delhi to protest against what they think is America’s discriminatory policies against Iraq or China or some other country. This is peculiarly Indian. There is unlikely to be a similar rally by Westerners in New York or London about India’s policies vis-à-vis Pakistan or vice versa. In an ideal world, this Indian tendency would indicate a kind of selflessness and concern for the world that can only be praised. But in times that are not so ideal, it would be a meaningless act or at worst, one coloured by domestic political motives. Only a couple of days ago, five people were killed while trying to protest against an American pastor’s supposedly derogatory remarks about Prophet Mohammed (“Five die in preacher riot”, Oct 12). Did the protestors really think their anger would travel across the Atlantic and make a difference'
Srikanta Hazra, Calcutta
Licence to kill
Sir — It is a good sign that the Mumbai police has not given in to the star image of Salman Khan, or to the underworld scare and accorded special treatment to the filmstar who killed one pavement-dweller and injured three others while driving in a drunken state. Easy money and people’s adulation have made stars like Khan so arrogant that they think they can get away with killing people, or preserved animals.
It is time the government of India acted firmly and decisively against such individuals who lead wayward lives and do not hesitate to please the mafia for some easy cash and other favours. If these people, irrespective of their wealth and clout, are not put behind bars, the honest and law-abiding citizens of India will lose faith in the government.
Shivaji. K. Moitra, Kharagpur
Sir — I have been closely following the Salman Khan case in The Telegraph as well as on television. What struck me is that there is no mention of the police taking finger prints from the steering wheel, gear knob and the door handle of the car Khan denied he was driving. This simple method would have established the identity of the driver and the culprit. This, along with other lapses, inevitably raise the question: is Salman Khan’s case going in the right direction'
Govind Das Dujari, Calcutta
Sir — It is funny that a well-known Hindi filmstar such as Salman Khan does not possess a driving licence. Funnier yet is the fact that the Mumbai police had to check with all the branches of the regional transport authority to find if any of them had issued a licence to the actor — a mammoth task indeed (“Licence fiasco in Salman case”, Oct 4). Would it not have been simpler to ask Khan to produce his driving licence, failing which, he could have been charged with driving without a licence. This is the standard procedure followed in all road-accident investigations. Why should it be any different in the case of Khan, particularly since his is being treated just as any other case of culpable homicide'
Arta Mishra, Cuttack
Sir — For a person used to taking on a dozen goons alone and playing the saviour on screen, it was shameful of Salman Khan to run away abandoning his Toyota Land Cruiser after it ran over sleeping pavement dwellers, when he should have been helping the injured. To double the shame, the court gave him bail instantly, that too at a paltry Rs 950. Nothing will come of this case, just as nothing did when so many other high-profile persons like Sanjeev Nanda and Puru Raj Kumar, were involved in similar road accidents.
Vikash Goenka, Calcutta
Sir — Here is a classic case of irony — on the same day that Salman Khan was booked in the hit and run case by the Mumbai police, the government of India had used his picture and message for its pulse-polio campaign, and this was published in the national edition of major dailies. And this, even after Khan’s being on the wrong side of the law several times in the past. Is this not special treatment' Why then was so much hue and cry raised over the special treatment accorded to R.K. Sharma, the prime accused in the Shivani Bhatnagar case, by the Haryana police'
R. Sekar, Angul
Sir — Salman Khan has been ordered by the Mumbai high court to pay Rs 10 lakh as compensation to the next of kin of the person killed when his car hit a few people sleeping on the pavement. Those who are seriously injured will have to be given Rs 3 lakh and those who have got minor injuries Rs 1.5 lakh. But how much does the government pay to victims and their families in case of accidents' The victims of the Rajdhani Express accident were paid Rs 1 lakh. Isn’t this ridiculous' Should a person be forced to pay an exorbitant sum just because he is a star'
A.S. Ahmed, Calcutta
Sir — The Vatican’s approval of a miracle performed by Mother Teresa which is a step forward to her cannonization, is good news for the Missionaries of Charity and for the people of Calcutta (“Vatican approves Mother miracle”, Oct 2). It is not surprising that the doctors involved in the treatment of Monica Besra, the woman who has been miraculously healed by Mother Teresa, have questioned the validity of the miracle. As scientists, doctors cannot make room for such a possibility. As ordinary citizens, we can.
Phani Bhusan Saha, Balurghat
Sir — The process of canonizing Mother Teresa indeed began long before it was formally started by the Vatican in 1999 (“Making of a saint”, Oct 5). Despite being the citizens of a free country, Indians are yet to overcome their colonial hangover and their fascination with foreigners and the West. Hence both Mother Teresa and Sonia Gandhi find acceptance in Indian society. That Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity have only attracted attention to Calcutta’s (and hence India’s) poverty has not bothered the Indian political establishment, which has instead chosen to bask in the glory of her achievements.
Sonali Dutta, Calcutta
Sir — In “Knowhow” of October 14, the date of the lecture of Ahmed Zewail, Nobel laureate, at the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Sciences, was wrongly printed as October 19. Zewail will deliver the lecture on October 16, Wednesday.
Debashis Mukherjee, director, Indian Association for the Cultivation of Sciences, Calcutta