Saturday, June 3, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



The truth about Kashmir

THIS refers to Mr K.F. Rustamji’s brilliant analytical survey (May 20) on Kashmir. I agree with his views that “it is the warped way of peace that is the cause of alienation. I think they will want to be with India as they did 50 years ago. We have to make amends for the wrongs we have done”. To my mind it needs a caesarian operation to extricate Kashmir from Indo-Pak problem. Right from the day we first imprisoned Sheikh Abdullah, we have been blundering in handling the Kashmir issue, ignoring sane, sensible and wise advice of stalwarts like Rajaji and Kriplani. Both India and Pakistan have been tackling the Kashmir issue on forensic arguments reiterating to acquire it as a disputed land and to own it as a real property without understanding the people of Kashmir.

I happen to have lived amidst Kashmiri people of the valley in the early fifties for three years in summer and winter at Bandipur on Wullar lake where the erstwhile princely state government in pre-partition days had established and located a civil supply depot for troops in Gilgit. The same premises were occupied by the Indian Army to feed troops in the Gurez- Kanzalwan sector. By virtue of commanding that supply depot which was situated in the middle of Bandipur village I got the unique opportunity to mix intimately with all sections of society — labourers, porters, mule-owners, contractors, farmers, teachers, students, local inhabitants of all categories and their women who used to draw/collect drinking water from the Army water point — the only source from where all used to get water and it happened to be close to the supply depot, and manned by army personnel.

With the background of some awareness about the life pattern of Indian Muslims (as my native village near Ludhiana was surrounded by several Muslim populated villages), I could discern some distinctive features and characteristics of Kashmiri Muslims, like their culture social behaviour, loyalty to India, obedience to law and order, with a timid, docile, amiable nature, their work-mindedness and industriousness, non-communal and non-political approach in their dealings with men of other faiths.

Later on, when I moved from Bandipur to Zojila Pass (Baltal) to feed troops in the Kargil-Dras sector in early 1957, I found the same type of Kashmiri people there as well. Pondering over my experience with them, I fail to reconcile myself to the fact that the same Kashmiris could have changed so drastically in their behaviour and outlook towards India.

My personal assessment is that they have been wrongly governed, for which we must make suitable amends sincerely to dispel their alienation as Mr Rustamji suggests. Basic traits of people seldom undergo a permanent change, and with proper understanding they can be brought back to the right path if they have gone astray. Let it be admitted that we were ill-prepared in the discharge of our duties in governance of our country when we hurriedly got Independence. While on misgovernance, “Gandhiji’s interesting point made in his talk with Lord Lothian (New York Times April 2, 1937) comes to my mind: “You English committed one supreme crime against my people. For hundred years, you have done everything for us; you have given us no responsibility for our own government, nor enabled us to learn by making mistakes. If we are deficient in character and experience necessary to enable us to take over the control of our own affairs, it is because you have never given us the opportunity to develop these qualities in practice”.

Cripps Mission in 1946 had offered us Dominion Status to begin with so that we learn the art of governing ourselves fairly well but we rejected it and demanded full Independence. Time and space does not permit me here to elaborate on the blunders we have been making in mismanagement and misgovernance since Independence in handling situations both in North-East areas of Assam and J&K besides muddling up inter-state relations and related issues. No lesson was learnt from the outgoing British regime’s experience which had given near autonomy to several hundreds princely states and had faced no serious problem in maintaining law and order.

Mr Rustamji’s remarks should be taken to logical conclusion: “There was a noticeable improvement when Advani resumed charge. The mood at present in J&K is optimistic, and it would be useful for all local parties in J&K to put forward their views”. Let general amnesty be declared and a sort of roundtable conference be held to thrash out all possible possibilities. Confidence-building approach should be adopted while negotiating talks on the entire subject of Kashmir.

Lt Col DALIP SINGH (retd)


Donate blood

Any reader donating blood can save himself from the risk of heart diseases. Jerome Sullivan, a researcher at University of Florida, has conducted a study which suggests that each time a person donates blood, some of the iron is removed from the blood. Sullivan believes that high iron levels in blood can increase the risk of heart disease as iron has been shown to speed the oxidation of cholesterol, a process thought to increase the damage to arteries that ultimately leads to diseases of cardiovascular system.

Several recent studies support the theory that iron levels play a significant role in heart diseases. Swedish scientists found that men with genetic abnormality which causes elevated iron levels in blood had a 2-3 fold increase in heart attack risk. A study conducted in Finland on 2682 men showed that men who donated blood at least once a year had an 88% lower risk of heart attacks than non-blood donors.

All over the globe, scientists are of the opinion that estrogen is probably the most important reason why women are protected from heart disease until they reach menopause. However, Victor Herbert a haematologist in New York City, is of the opinion that normally about 1000 milligrams of iron is stored in the average adult’s body, but only about 300 milligrams of iron is stored in a premenopausal woman. Once women stop menstruating iron levels start increasing and due to this there is an increase in the risk of heart diseases. Those who are otherwise healthy should donate blood so as to prevent a heart attack.




The encroachments in the streets and roads of Gurdaspur city create a lot of hindrance. It has become very difficult to pass through the market and streets because of these encroachments. Cases of eve teasing and bottom pinching have become a routine affair to the disgust of one and all. Ladies are reluctant to go for shopping. Business community, customers, girl-students and public in general have been suffering in the town.

Keeping in view the phenomenal increase in the number of vehicles in the city, it has become imperative that these encroachments should be removed forthwith and traffic rules be strictly enforced so that the possibility of any untoward incident/accident may be averted. The attitude of the Municipal Council and the other concerned departments is indifferent and casual.



N-power plant

This is regarding the proposal of the Punjab Government to put up a nuclear power plant in the state. It is with great concern we view this decision.

The people of Punjab should be asked to vote on this matter as it directly affects not only their lives but the lives of generations to come. Politicians shall come and go, but the effects of this decision shall remain for centuries. One wonders if anyone shall even remember Parkash Singh Badal 50 years from now, other than that his decision may lead people to live their daily lives in the shadow of a nuclear disaster.

Here in California, nuclear plants have proved to be troublesome, unoperational and a liability for many years. The US Government is dismantling them at a huge cost. One wonders if the Indian Government has the technology, resources and political will to be able to safely dismantle the nuclear plant if the need arises. The transportation and storage of the nuclear waste is another major concern.

What is the Punjab Government's emergency evacuation plan for the people in the surrounding areas or do we continue with the same callous disregard for human life we have seen all these years. The 15 mile non-populated zone is ridiculous as we know the contaminated area would be much larger. Would we feed radiation-contaminated crops to the Indian masses and risk the health of millions or would we write off one of the most productive and successful agricultural ventures with “Caution: Radioactive Land Ahead” signs?

For years we heard that Punjab was not a good candidate for heavy industry due to its close proximity to Pakistan. Here we stand that very logic on its head.

There are alternatives to the power generation needs of the countries. Huge river resources remain untapped. One obvious resource would be to help Nepal develop its hydroelectric projects and provide it with a market to export electricity. Even within the country we are nowhere near exhausting our resources.

It is clear that the implications of this project are not completely understood and that the leaders are either ill informed or misinformed.

The people need to hear the full story and decide for themselves if they really want this monster in their backyard. We vote no to the nuclear plant in Punjab as we vote no to threatening the future of our children.

Orange County (California)

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