Sir — The dilapidated St Olave’s Church in Serampore is a 17th-century structure built by the Danes, who had colonized Serampore in 1755. The church was constructed under the supervision of Colonel Ole Bie, who was the then governor of Serampore. This historical building is in ruins now, and has been declared a dangerous structure. The heritage commission of West Bengal and the state government must make a thorough assessment of the condition of the church. Otherwise, this ancient building will soon be memory.
Aritra Mukherjee, Serampore, Hooghly
Sir — I read Khushwant Singh’s article, “Remembering Siddhartha” (Nov 27), with keen interest. But Singh’s comments on India’s former defence minister, V.K. Krishna Menon, struck a discordant note in an otherwise engrossing article. Singh claims that Menon was a drug addict, who used to fall asleep during luncheons. Doesn’t Singh know that many prescribed medicines contain ingredients that induce sleep? Perhaps Menon was under medication that had occasioned his drowsiness. Singh should have thought twice before pointing an accusing finger at a respected politician who is now no more.
Ashok Kumar Ghosh, Calcutta
Sir — As a person, the late Siddhartha Shankar Ray was indeed gentle and intelligent, as Khushwant Singh says in his article. But as a politician, especially as the chief minister of West Bengal, he failed to win the confidence of the people. His role as adviser to Indira Gandhi, the then prime minister of India, made him party to the black deed called Emergency. Perhaps for this reason, the surge of public sentiment after his recent death was not as great as it had been after the death of the ex-chief minister, Jyoti Basu, early this year.
Arun Pal, Bolpur
Sir — Safety, security and passenger comfort are the priorities that must be considered before long-distance trains are launched. But the Union railways minister, Mamata Banerjee, does not seem to deem these important. To gain political mileage, she inaugurates a new train every alternate day without doing anything about the existing infrastructure. We had a bizarre experience while travelling to Ambala in the newly-launched Nangal Dam-Kolkata Superfast Express in the air-conditioned sleeper class. It is hard to believe that a train which covers nearly 2,000 kilometres does not have a pantry car. The linen was foul-smelling. Not a single sweeper did the rounds during our 24-hour-long journey. Since most of the seats were vacant, unauthorized occupants took rides in the AC compartment for three to four hours, compromising the passengers’ security.
More horror was in store for us while returning from Chandigarh by the Kalka Mail. A couple kept dumping the nappies of their newborn baby in the basket inside our cabin. For a day, the soiled nappies stayed in the basket along with our discarded food packets. It was only at Mughalsarai that a sweeper arrived. I have travelled widely in trains. There is a marked difference between the passenger amenities on offer in elite trains like the Rajdhani and in other superfast trains. To follow such a discriminatory policy is to deprive passengers, who pay a considerable sum to ensure their comfort, of their legitimate rights.
S. Mukherjee, Borehat, Burdwan