More to it than meets the eye
Sir — Now we know the real reason behind Cheriegate: Cherie Blair’s sanpaku eyes, a condition in which the whites of the eyes are clearly visible above and below the iris (“Danger behind wide-eyed stares”, Jan 11). A sanpaku individual — Diana, the former princess of Wales, being another — is vulnerable or aggressive or imbalanced or all of these. Is this why the Mongoloid races are less emotional than the rest' And is that why the Japanese thought up this one' Sanpaku, of course, would explain why the British prime minister’s wife did a stupid thing like buying property through a conman, whom, she admitted, she did not know well at all. Her unexpected dependence on girlfriends, even in deciding property deals, also falls in place if one sees it through the sanpaku prism.We have also been told, ad nauseam, how vulnerable — and as a result, repeatedly hurt — Diana was. No wonder Cherie Blair is rumoured to have a keen interest in oriental alternative therapy: what is an oriental disorder — Japan being the land of the rising sun itself — ought to be curable by oriental medicines.
Jyotirmoyi Singhi, Calcutta
Sir — It is difficult to disagree with the editorial, “The fourteenth witness” (Jan 11), when it claims that Preity Zinta takes on an all-male cast. There is no doubt that Zinta has been a rare instance of courage among a group of the highest paid Bollywood actors who went back on their word regarding the threat from the underworld. Rakesh Roshan and his son are willing to move around with a posse of bodyguards for security, to have their offices bombed and themselves threatened regularly over the phone. But they will still not speak up against the underworld, at least in court. The reason for this is not difficult to ascertain. The money the films are produced on, sometimes quite recklessly, comes from the dons. They provide the rozi-roti to the actors and their dependents. So, by speaking up against the dons, they not only endanger their lives, they also endanger their livelihood.
Why is Zinta proving to be an exception to this rule' It is probably because she thinks, and quite rightly, that her statement will make no difference to the situation. Zinta was a starlet when she was threatened on the telephone. Which means the extortion amount or the threat could not have been serious. It is only Salman Khan or Sanjay Dutt who could provide the breakthrough. The former has desisted from doing so, and the latter has not been called by the police yet. Actually, the heroines in Bollywood never earn so much as to become objects of underworld threat. It is the top bracket male stars, raking in crores, who matter. Zinta’s deposition, although laudable, will not provide the case the steam it needs to tighten the noose around the underworld and its above-the-ground connections. Which means both she and her statement will be forgotten eventually.
P. Majumdar, Calcutta
Sir — Salman Khan’s recent backtracking on his statement made to the police in the Bharat Shah case once again sends out shock waves (“Salman accuses police of doctoring”, Jan 9). It is quite evident that Khan, already accused of crushing a man under the wheels of the car he was driving, is playing it safe to preserve his image. His action, however, changes the dimension of the case. Although Preity Zinta has come forward to depose before the court, her lone statement might not be enough to hold the case. There are also chances that under pressure, Zinta might too turn hostile.
The danger from the underworld is real, especially for the Bollywood stars who constantly live under its shadow. There are several examples like the death of Gulshan Kumar which will go on reminding these film personalities of the gruesome end that lies in store for them in case of any recalcitrance with underworld orders. Even Rakesh Roshan has been found unwilling to stand by his earlier statement. This is an obvious indication that police protection is not considered sufficient guarantee by Bollywood. There are too many loopholes in the Indian law to ensure foolproof safety and security to the stars.
Sumant Poddar, Calcutta
Sir — The big names in Bollywood have been accused of turning into hostile witnesses. Although each of them have confessed to have been threatened with extortion and sometimes death for failing to pay up, they have not spoken up against the underworld in court. What is even worse is that the police should have forgotten to either show the accused the statements recorded by them or have them signed by the film personalities. These unsigned statements speak volumes about the callousness of the police force and loopholes in the law which are created to see to it that the Bollywood stars escape from being pinned down by the authorities. With such efficiency, the administration is only ensuring that the Mumbai underworld continues to reign forever. Does the Maharashtra police realize that its case is extremely weak'
Aritra Roy, Shyamnagar
Sir — The charge Salman Khan brings against the Mumbai police is indeed grave. Each of the confessions made by the stars now need to be scrutinized in detail. If Khan’s charges are proved false, he should be punished. And this time the police should see that he does not go scot-free as in the earlier case of hit and run. Khan should also realize that in case he is not speaking the truth, he runs the risk of losing public sympathy completely.
T.R. Anand, Calcutta
Sir — The way the Bharat Shah case is being handled shows the callous attitude of our law-enforcing agencies. Earlier, several countries including Portugal, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates have refused to hand over fugitives who have committed crimes against India. This shows that none of these countries take India seriously. In the Anees Ibrahim case, the intelligence agencies had even proceeded without adequate fingerprints and the latest photographs. Quite naturally, India has become a laughing stock. If India hopes to dispense justice swiftly or brings its underworld to book, it should proceed along the right path. India must try to develop a more efficient secret service.
Shivaji K. Moitra, Kharagpur
Sir — The National Conference has exposed its true character by opposing Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s decision to delegate adequate administrative and economic powers to the Ladakh autonomous hill development council and its announcement to set up a similar council for Kargil. Farooq Abdullah is not only against the process of democratic decentralization, but is also opposed to the return of peace. While harshly rebutting the decision of the People’s Democratic Front government on Ladakh, the National Conference is reported to have described the Ladakh autonomous council as an attempt to subvert the unity and territorial integrity of Jammu and Kashmir. It betrays a mindset that favours dynastic rule with power ensconced in the hands of a golf-teeing patriarch who considers his political outfit as a family fiefdom.
One moot question crops — who is the main champion of state’s vivisection ' We should not forget that the steering committee of the People’s Conference convened by Sheikh Abdullah in 1967, had favoured a five-tier set up based on the concept of democratic decentralization for Jammu and Kashmir. It shows how a political party in a crass opportunist manner has turned into an advocate of a unitary system.
Chiranjib Haldar, Calcutta
Sir — The Mufti Mohammed Sayeed government is proving to be no different from the National Conference one. Militancy still rules the roost in the state. The People’s Democratic Party in fact lost one of its members of the legislative assembly in violence recently — possibly the terrorists answer to Sayeed’s soft policy on militancy. What is worse, the PDP is now concentrating its efforts on poaching on National Conference legislators (“Mufti casts net for Omar restive ranks”, Jan 6). The PDP’s answer to the National Conference should be through proper governance, not politicking.
Jadu Mahanta, Calcutta
Sir — While Mufti Mohammed Sayeed is trying to be soft on militants, he is being rather hard on the public. All matters that relate to the public, especially the clean up drive to make Srinagar beautiful, the larger issue of power bills and electricity tapping, should be sorted out in consultation with the people. By pretending that the power situation is good, the Sayeed government seems to be pulling the wool over the eyes of the public.
Shiv Shanker Almal, Calcutta