Sir — Sarmila Bose’s interview of Lieutenant General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi was a memorable one (“The ultimate warrior”, August 17). As a veteran of the 1971 war, although in the western sector, I am particularly impressed by Bose’s objectivity and lack of bias, which is a far cry from some of the pieces written about the general by Indians. The general’s greatest feat was perhaps his refusal to leave his troops to their fate and go off to West Pakistan — and this despite continuous entreaties by General Yahya Khan to do the same. Niazi, in fact, was doing a re-run of General Friedrich von Paulus’s gesture when his Sixth Army fell to the Soviet Union’s counter offensive in Europe during World War II. Von Paulus had refused to obey Hitler’s orders to abandon his command and come away to Germany. Niazi, like von Paulus, proudly upheld the age-old military ethic of standing by one’s men through thick and thin, and till the end, come what may.
J.K. Dutt, Calcutta
Proof of a leader
Sir — “All rhyme and reason” (August 17), presented a different angle to the commonplace Laloo Prasad Yadav story and even helped remove some of the misconceptions about this leader. Branded as a joker in his own country, he has been accepted overwhelmingly by the people of Pakistan during his recent trip to Islamabad. He has a special style of reaching out to people and making them listen to him. The way he carries himself is hardly of any importance. That people do not grudge even his reprimands is clear from the incident in Gaya when he had slapped a rickshaw-puller because the latter did not send his children to school. The man realized easily that he had been slapped in his own interest. No one can accuse Laloo Yadav of being pretentious, unlike most other leaders. That is why he has no qualms about admitting that he does not understand the nitty-gritty of administration.
Laloo Yadav is also not the compromising kind; he is quite fearless and brazen. He is the only political leader who had the guts to disallow Praveen Togadia and Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders from entering Bihar in anticipation of communal violence. It is perhaps time we gave Laloo Yadav his due.
Govind Das Dujari, Calcutta
Sir — The Rashtriya Janata Dal leader has certainly done a commendable job by refusing Praveen Togadia and Acharya Giriraj Kishore entry into Patna (“Bihar bars entry of VHP leaders”, August 17). But why is such action missing when it comes to dealing with criminals and the corrupt in his state' Bihar has earned itself the reputation of being a haven for all genres of criminals and extortionists. Laloo Yadav’s double standards are reflected in the way in which he has helped bury many crucial cases involving hardened criminals. Most businessmen have opted to take their businesses out of the state because of the high-handedness of his party and the lawlessness it breeds.
No matter how much drama he whips up over bringing errant officials to book and supervising administration, it is a fact that he has not made proper utilization of development funds during his tenure as the chief minister of Bihar. Laloo Yadav may be a spontaneous orator and a darling of the masses. But it can neither be forgotten or forgiven that he is responsible for the status of Bihar as a BIMARU state today. His usual defence is that Bihar’s miseries are mostly media-made and not real. Why, then, does he feel the urge to woo the same media which is responsible for all the woes of his state'
Udita Agarwal, New Delhi
Sir — Laloo Prasad Yadav had displayed exemplary guts when he had ordered the arrest of Lal Krishna Advani in 1990, when he had embarked on his rath yatra in Bihar. Thirteen years later, he has stuck to his stand against communalism and communalists by disallowing two senior VHP leaders to even step into the Patna airport. In this respect, Bihar presents a stark contrast to the rest of the country, where leaders with an anti-secular bent of mind are allowed to spew their venom without hindrance or restraint. The Left Front government of West Bengal, which claims to be vocal against communalism, has hardly done anything of substance to prevent VHP leaders from delivering provocative and vitriolic speeches at the Maidan or elsewhere in Calcutta. Laloo Yadav is no messiah, but other political leaders could try emulating him as far as putting up a fight against communalism is concerned.
Kajal Chatterjee, Sodepur
Sir — Not all of the comments made in the editorial, “Real Bengal” (July 30), can be accepted in their entirety. Lifting the ASEAN club championship trophy is a major achievement for East Bengal. Winning holds a special meaning for any contender in any sport, and the jubilation and celebrations that followed East Bengal’s victory were only natural. There are always some people who sneer at a team’s victory — East Bengal is facing its share of the phenomenon. There is no reason to take it seriously.
It may be true that globalization has affected the game of football, as it has done all other games. But much of it is for the better. East Bengal’s victory is important because it has sparked off a series of initiatives — a sports channel has announced the prize of a car for the best player in the national league — which could inject a fresh lease of life into the game in Bengal and in India. This would in turn increase competitiveness and improve the overall quality of the game. Instead of being cynical about it, this victory should be celebrated by one and all.
Amarendra Bijoy Biswas, Kharagpur
Sir — The East Bengal football team has perhaps paved the way for improvements in the dismal football scene in the country with its inspirational victory in the ASEAN Club Championship. One point needs to be mentioned in this context. The matches were telecast only on the Doordarshan Sports channel, thus depriving many. A tournament of such importance should have been aired on a national channel, at least after East Bengal, in spite of starting out as underdogs, reached the semi-finals, keeping in mind the thousands of supporters. Also, the timings of many matches were printed incorrectly in the newspaper.
Prakash Joshi, Shillong