Cruel and popular
Sir — Why is Ted Tally, the scriptwriter of Red Dragon, surprised to see Anthony Hopkins — “the cannibalistic serial killer” — being mobbed like a rock star (“Hopkins manages Hannibal big bite”, Oct 7)' Of course, those mobbing the actor who played Hannibal Lecter would not be delighted at the idea of hobnobbing with a person who loves “to have a friend for lunch”. But they are simply in awe of the histrionic capabilities of Hopkins who managed to make the character of Hannibal convincing enough for the viewers. Filmgoers in India will easily be able to find parallels between this and the way in which the dialogues and mannerisms of the villain of Sholay, Gabbar Singh, have been immortalized and are still avidly copied in spite of the unimaginably cruel acts committed by him in the film. People like Tally have been in the movie business long enough to know that the cruellest of villains have as much appeal to the people as the hero of a popular romantic film.
Dyutiman Bhattacharya, Howrah
So near, yet so far
Sir — The results of the four-phase assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir have been declared and India has clearly emerged the winner.
Each phase of polling threw up new challenges for the security forces and those entrusted with the duty of conducting free and fair elections under extremely trying circumstances. But neither the security forces nor the election personnel nor the voters were cowed down by the threat of violence and militancy. In the end, Pakistan’s attempt to disrupt the elections failed miserably. Ironically, the day that marked the completion of the poll process in Jammu and Kashmir also saw the Pakistan dictator, Pervez Musharraf, conduct sham parliamentary elections in his country. Neither Benazir Bhutto nor Nawaz Sharif has been allowed to contest or even address public meetings.
The overall turnout of 44 per cent in Kashmir is a fitting reply to Pakistan which wanted the global community to think that the Kashmiris were not with India and were forced to participate in the elections. Pakistan might still have succeeded in selling the story of forced voting, had India not taken the decision to allow diplomats and foreign journalists to monitor the elections. These elections have been the fairest ever in Jammu and Kashmir, according to independent observers.
More important than the result of the elections is the fact that the voters used the ballot as a weapon to fight Pakistan-sponsored militancy in the valley. It is now up to the elected representatives to give the people an honest and efficient government.
D.V. Vamsee Krishna, Bhubaneswar
Sir — The din and bustle of the elections in Kashmir are over, but the shootings and bombings by militants are likely to continue. India wants terrorist-infiltration from Pakistan to stop completely, but the Pakistani leadership is in no hurry to oblige. So, what are the options before India now'
A full-scale war as an option is unfeasible, given the nuclear threat and adverse world reaction. What the Indian army needs to stop terrorist-infiltration is not greater manpower but more sophisticated and cutting-edge technology. It looks as though there is no other option for India but to reopen the stalled dialogue process in the interests of peace and well-being of the people of the subcontinent. If India does not feel comfortable with one-on-one talks, it should not object to third-party mediation. Jimmy Carter, the former American president who has just won the Nobel Prize for peace, may be the right man for this job. The Camp David accord he brokered between the two implacable foes, Egypt and Israel, is still holding. Carter may be able to convince Pakistan that it is better for Kashmir to stay with secular India.
Kangayam R. Rangaswamy, Madison, US
Sir — The Kashmir elections have sounded the death-knell of the dynastic rule of the Abdullah family. Omar Abdullah, who took over the reins of the National Conference from his father, Farooq, just before the elections, even lost from his home constituency of Ganderbal. But why is so little being said about the chief election commissioner, J.M. Lyndogh, to whom ought to go most of the credit'
Sumant Poddar, Calcutta
Sir — From the recent developments in Jammu and Kashmir, it seems that neither the Congress nor the People’s Democratic Party are going to budge from their stand of sending their representative to the chief minister’s post. If they cannot resolve their differences soon, the governor might invite the National Conference, which has been rejected by the people, to form the government.
If the state finally has to fall back on governor’s rule, or an unstable coalition, what effect will it have on the people' What about the great enthusiasm with which they voted braving threats of militants' Do the politicians have the right to dash their dream of a stable government at last'
Girija Sankar Mishra, Keonjhar
Out of a molehill
Sir — The absurd bandh called by some obscurantist organizations to protest against the remarks on Prophet Mohammed by an American pastor, Jerry Falwell, was bizarre and idiotic (“Five die in preacher riot”, Oct 12). By their logic, one can demand a bandh in some part of India everyday, since someone somewhere in the world is always hurting another’s religious sensibilities. That the protest resulted in the death of five persons in Solapur in Maharashtra makes it even more difficult to pardon the agitators.
Admittedly, majority communalism can wreak greater havoc than minority communalism. But in present-day India, it is necessary to oppose the two with equal force, since they can unitedly destroy India.
Shailesh Gandhi, Mumbai
Sir — There are a few lessons to be learnt from the communal violence unleashed in Solapur out of a non-existent trigger. First, that some obscurantists in Solapur learnt about the remarks of an American priest even before the news agencies shows how fast information travels among fundamentalists. Second, it will always be the people least connected with the issue who will have to pay the price.
Udita Agrawal, New Delhi