Dead man smiling
Sir — The cynical indifference with which the Bali bomber Amrozi greeted his death sentence may have shocked the world (“Smiling Bali bomber gets death”, August 8). But a closer look at the functioning of Amrozi’s mind would have prevented his reaction from becoming such a surprise. Nurtured by a rabidly fanatical network, Amrozi’s sole mission in life was to annihilate as many Jews and Americans as possible. For this mechanic from central Java and many of his like, death is a passport to martyrdom, an act held in high esteem by Islam. Certain actions of Amrozi — laughing at Indonesian witnesses, denouncing members of other communities and his verbal outbursts — might force us to label him as a lunatic. But these are manifestations of the pathological hatred towards his targets that has been injected into him by his network and its leaders. The suicide bombers of 9/11, if caught, would have shown the same indifference to human life as Amrozi. As bombs continue to go off in picturesque Bali, one wonders how many minds like Amrozi’s are being mindlessly corrupted.
Aurobindo Mullick, Calcutta
Sir — Relocating Qutubuddin Ansari in West Bengal is yet another ploy on the part of the state government to consolidate its minority vote bank in the run up to the next elections (“Hope and home for face of riot fright”, August 10). The state minister for minorities, Mohammad Salim, is supposed to have offered Ansari a house to live in and a shop to start his tailoring business. Although his concern for Ansari is understandable, it is clear that the minister is playing to the gallery with an eye on the forthcoming general elections. The media must also share the responsibility for the hype surrounding Ansari, which has allowed vested political interests to capitalize on a sensitive issue. Politicians of all hues resort to such populist measures to gain some extra political mileage. The step taken by Salim is yet another example of the exploitation of human misery.
Susenjit Guha, Calcutta
Sir— The arrival of the now famous “face of the Gujarat riots”, Qutubuddin Ansari, at Calcutta to start a new life after his harrowing experience in Gujarat is yet another example of the city’s humanitarian culture (“Ansari runs from face of Gujarat riots”, August 8). Calcutta is perhaps the only city in India which retains its progressive outlook and its culture of tolerance. Ansari and his family can look forward to the warmth and love that Calcutta is known for. The West Bengal state minister for minorities, Mohammad Salim, must be complimented for offering social and economic rehabilitation to this victim of an unforgettable nightmare.
S. Ram, Calcutta
Sir — The photograph of Qutubuddin Ansari praying for his life depicts the dark reality of religious conflict in Gujarat. But there is a positive side to it as well. The fact that Ansari was spared by the mob, and hence is still alive to tell his tale, proves that occasionally, the human spirit also triumphs. Political leaders should work to foster this spirit. Unfortunately, they are too busy preaching the doctrine of religious divide and violence for their own interests. We hope that Ansari’s instance promotes tolerance among the communities, both in Calcutta and elsewhere.
Hara Lal Chakraborty, Calcutta
Sir — Calcutta still remains one of the safest places to stay in when compared to the rest of the country. Victims of the Gujarat riot like Qutubuddin Ansari can expect to lead a peaceful life in a secular environment. Instead of blaming Calcutta for all the ills afflicting the state, the rest of India should try to live up to the principles of this metropolis.
Kajal Chatterjee, Calcutta
Sir — It is a pity that political parties exploit human misery and invariably cash in on human sufferings. In the past, events like the brutal murder of Ananda Margis in West Bengal and the displacement of the Kashmiri Hindu Pandits have been politicized to serve vested interests. We must ensure that the scale of justice does not tilt towards any one religious community to get political mileage.
D.K. Chakraborty, Calcutta
Sir — Fifty-six years after independence, India epitomizes everything that can be wrong with a democracy. A decrepit political class, a corrupt bureaucracy, a defunct judiciary, atrocities on the downtrodden, erosion of morality and honesty, and worse, a country of a billion civilians who still hold on to shibboleths. We, Indians, have to blame ourselves for the state we are in today. Most of us are indifferent to everything happening around us unless that affects our family, our salary and our black income. We seem to have lost our will to stand up for our rights and fight for justice. A big chunk of Indians do not exercise their fundamental right to vote, and even if they do, they exercise their choice on the basis of caste and religion and not on principles and governance. We should do our bit for the country by promoting civic sense, spreading the message of communal harmony and helping the poor and the disabled.
Rohit Jain, Rishra
Sir — Though 56 years have passed after India’s freedom from captivity, our commitments to the nation still remain unfulfilled. In post-independent India, neither has any party ever penned any practical plan which could make our fundamental rights accessible to every countryman nor have they thought about how to regulate the explosive population growth of our country which is the mother of almost every existing problem. Moreover, every honest endeavour of the government has always been overshadowed by the corrupt politicians in power. At this stage, it is too optimistic to believe that we will become economically independent within 2020. The present government’s destructive policy of playing with religious sentiments will further complicate matters and delay the socio-economic development of India.
L. Mallick, Calcutta
Sir — Independence Day was painful to me and my family. I live on Prem Chand Boral Street where blaring loudspeakers made it impossible for us to stay indoors. If it were loud noise on Friday, it was cricket on Saturday. The road was barricaded with bamboo poles and the commentary continued throughout the day punctuated by popular Indian music. I ponder on the meaning of independence. Fifty-six years ago, our freedom fighters freed us from foreign invaders. Who can deliver us from discomfort and misery in the heart of Calcutta'
Angshuman Das, Calcutta
Sir — West Bengal has become notorious for frequent strikes, each being for at least 24 hours. The Socialist Unity Centre of India claims that it has obtained some concessions on various issues raised by it from the government as a result of its earlier strikes. This time also, it claims, it has a valid reason in protesting against the fast increasing taxes, duties and so on. However, no political party has the right to disturb and inconvenience the public for 24 hours. Recently, Mumbai had a strike for only a few hours, and its significance was not lost on the country. The SUCI can also hold the proposed strike for six hours, say from 7 am to 1 pm. The purpose of the strike would be equally effective. The common people will not be so inconvenienced, and the poor daily wage earners would not be harmed so much as a 24 hour bandh.
Probir Sen, Calcutta