Friday, July 14, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Roots of Kashmir problem

WITH reference to Mr Hari Jaisingh’s article “Roots of Kashmir problem: time to learn from past follies” (The Tribune, July 7, 2000) I fully endorse the author’s viewpoint: “At stake is the future of Kashmir. It must not be allowed to become a plaything of the various interest groups operating freely in the valley”. The weak-kneed policies of a nation always led to chaos and confusion worse confounded. Kashmir was, is and will remain an integral part of India.

The rulers of a region or state may temporarily play the communal card to remain in power, but the self-centered political games of men at the helm of affairs are easily unmasked in the long run. The people answer their game of manoeuvres through the ballots at the time of polls.

In the secular setup of India, minorities are protected against any sort of excesses at the hands of the majority community. It is commendable. They even get special protection from the powers that be. In the valley, the Kashmiri Pandits are in a minuscule minority. Panicked by terrorism in J&K, the Pandits abandoned their hearths and homes for the safety of their lives about a decade ago. There is very little sympathy for this minority community (and that too in selected pockets) in the country. Nothing has been done to rehabilitate the Kashmiri Pandits so far.

No amount of “greater autonomy” can empower the state government in J&K to bring back life to normal without rehabilitating the Pandits in the valley.

Bijhari (Hamirpur)


Revealing Details: The writer has aptly exposed the communal card played by Sheikh Abdullah. It is quite revealing that he rehabilitated 5000 Muslims from Kazakhstan (Central Asia) and invited Buddhists from Tibet to settle in Jammu and Kashmir but refused to allow them to enter J&K. Even refugees from West Punjab have not been allowed to settle there in spite of the fact that they have been living there since 1947.

However, one must not blame Sheikh Abdullah. He was faithful to his own community, the Muslims. But what about Gandhi and Nehru. They too favoured the Muslims and accepted all their illegitimate demands. This was the foundation of their policy — to appease the Muslims even at the cost of national interests.


PASTMASTER: No doubt, Kashmir politicians seem to have a fluctuating mind vis-a-vis the problem under question. They have, over the years, been playing recklessly, as per their interest, various cards — economic, communal and autonomy — simply to keep themselves in the “saddle”.

The powers that be, on their part, invariably preferred an ad hoc short-term approach to the problem rather than go in for a long-term policy on the subject. The sad consequences are there for all to see.

Like his illustrious father, Dr Farooq Abdullah seems a pastmaster in the art of “double speak”. Further, he seems to have played the autonomy card at this juncture just for his political survival regardless of the consequences of the mindless antic to the Indian polity as a whole.

Indeed, it is high time for the powers that be to learn the requisite lesson from “past follies” and go in for a radical change in their approach to the chronic Kashmir problem. Mere homilies over the matter would not click. The issue can be delayed only at our national peril.

Ambota (Una)

Language learning

This is with reference to “The Obsession” by Mr J.L. Gupta which I have read with special interest.

Language learning is a meaningful exercise. It is the medium through which one communicates one’s ideas to others. Without proper words at one’s command, one feels like a bird flying without wings. Language learning is not so easy a task as thought to be. It entails labour of years together. But the fruit of such labour is sweet.

The words stated to be preferred to the right ones in the write-up by the stenos/secretaries of today really reflect the devaluation of values. In the midst of these mistakes the boss feels embarrassed, though helpless to do without a steno.


Growing lawlessness

A reading of the morning newspaper almost everyday carrying reports of dehumanising torture, assault, rape, death in police custody or cruelty meted out to people in politicians’ makeshift torture cells in their government houses, is indeed depressing.

Any form of torture or cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment meted out to a person needs severest condemnation. If the functionaries and the members of the government become lawbreakers, it is bound to breed contempt for the law and would encourage lawlessness. The public rightly feels perturbed. The duty to prevent torture is thus a primordial obligation. There should be no safe heaven for torturers.

Experience has shown that law enforcement personnel are not always and not under all circumstances competent to apply the legal rules concerning arrest, detention and imprisonment properly and, therefore, often fail to assist in the administration of justice. What is more distressing is that law-enforcement personnel often are used under certain political conditions to commit or participate in acts of torture.

In too many cases torture is not the criminal act of a single undisciplined policeman, but the crime of obedience done under explicit instructions of the authorities. This makes the investigation and prosecution of such crimes virtually impossible. Law enforcement has been rightly defined by J.J. Roche:

The net of law is spread so wide,

No sinner from its sweep may hide.

Its meshes are so fine and strong,

They take in every child of wrong,

O wonderous web of mystery,

Big fish alone escape from thee.


Speed-breakers on highways

While the country is still grappling with the problem of unauthorised and illegal colonies that come up under political patronage and are later regularised by politicians to build permanent vote-banks, another problem of a similar nature was highlighted by The Tribune on July 6, “Speed-breakers become status symbol”.

The existence of speed-breakers on national highways defeats the very purpose of these highways which are supposed to allow the vehicles to run across the country at a fast speed.

As per engineering practice, speed-breakers on national highways are permissible only in rarest and unavoidable cases, mostly in cases of level-crossing only. A national highway having 60 speed-breakers in a stretch of 165 km is worse than a village road. it is beyond the comprehension of any sane person that how such a gross violation of road-engineering norms is being tolerated by the authorities!

There can’t be anything more ridiculous than measuring the influence or nuisance value of a village by the number of speed-breakers that village creates on the national highways. Turning a blind eye by the authorities to such whimsical actions of villagers is nothing less than succumbing to blackmail by them under the fear of losing votes. It is horrible to read that at places the Engineering Department itself has been forced by the politicians to build speed-breakers. Under such circumstances when the law-makers, are becoming law-breakers the whole system is bound to collapse.

The government must not lose any more time and start the demolition of all illegal speed-breakers within a short span of time. This virus must not be allowed to spread to other cities and states. If the government concerned doesn’t have enough guts, it should say so. In that case, Mr Jagmohan, the Demolition Man, should be called to get the job done.



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