Saturday, December 23, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



The homecoming

TIME, they say, is a great healer. But sometimes it refuses to oblige. Though life moves on at its regular pace, the mind gets stuck at one point. For me there is something nightmarish that is attached to the word "NEW YEARS' EVE". The very mention of the word brings to my mind the events of December 31, 1999, when 155 precious lives were at stake for several days at Kandahar airport. As the government was dilly-dallying in reaching a decision, the uncertainty was becoming tortuous. At last, in the evening, the announcement of the release of the passengers brought relief. As Doordarshan had made arrangements for a live telecast of the arrival of the passengers in Delhi, all other New Year programmes were forgotten and I sat glued to DDI throughout the evening. As the passengers landed in batches, it was heartening to see the cheerful faces of their relatives. But yet, the heart was heavy for the one who did not come back. Rupin Katyal—the innocent young man, who sacrificed at the altar of fundamentalism.

My eyes kept looking for Rachna Katyal. I think everybody who was watching the TV must have liked to see Rachna. As if to see her was to share her grief. As if to see her was to console her. As if to see was to hold her hands and say, “Rachna, we are very sorry!”.

At last there she was. Dressed in red and green—a picture of innocence. She appeared unaware of the darkness that awaited her. Even when the live telecast had come to an end, her face kept haunting me. 'What will she be doing now? Perhaps, she must be looking for her husband, thinking that he must be in some other batch....perhaps now she, in panic, must be asking about him....and very soon the news that will break her, will be broken to!....or now!!....or perhaps....!!!'

And with the stroke of midnight, when the new millennium crept in, a wail rose in the sky—a wail which came, not only from the heart of Rachna Katyal, but a wail in which the tears and grief of millions of people were mixed. And this wail, I am sure, piercing through the foggy clouds, must have deafened God's ears.

But did it reach the ears of those who were responsible for all this?



US election

The election of the President of the United States of the America is over and there are many lessons to be learnt from it.

Just before the election, the Asian Indian American Business Group (AIABG) Chapter Columbus, Ohio invited all the candidates of both the parties to give their views. The meeting was well attended, and the presence of about 25 candidates demonstrated the success of AIABG in the political arena.

India and the USA have democracies. But the similarity ends here. In the framework of the democratic system, there are more dissimilarities than similarities. The Americans should be aware of this and should no go into the details of the political processes of the two countries.

The Indians have to realise that the USA, unlike India, is a highly decentralised set-up. The lack of concentration of power in the USA means separation of powers. The local elections in the USA play a much more dominant role in the lives of the constituents, than in India.

Dublin, Ohio (USA)




The Government of India should try her best to seek the return of the Kohinoor from Britain as the country is going to celebrate the bicentenary of the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The Kohinoor was mined in India and was with the Mughal King Mohmmad Shah Rangila. The Persian invader, Nadir Shah, looted the Kohinoor and took it to Iran. Later Maharaja Ranjit Singh took it back from Shah Sujah of Kabul, after fighting two battles with Atta Mohammad the Governor of Kashmir.

From September, 1812, to March 1943, the Kohinoor remained with Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his successors. On March 10, 1843, this diamond was taken to England by the British, from Maharaja Duleep Singh's Lahore durbar. It now lies in the Tower of London along with other Crown jewels. There are some other items of historical importance from Punjab and India, which are kept in the Tower of London and other British museums. To get the Kohinoor back from England is a just and genuine claim of India. The Taliban and other countries have no claim to the Kohinoor.




It has been mentioned in a report in The Tribune of December 16 that the Kohinoor diamond originally belonged to the Mughal Emperor, Muhammad Shah. This is not correct.

Since time immemorial, this matchless jewel has passed through many hands, including rulers and adventures, before it went to Britain on the annexation of Punjab in 1849.

Raja Bikramjit of Gwalior died valiantly fighting on the side of the then Delhi King, Sultan Ibrahim Lodi, against Babur in the battle of Panipat in April, 1526. His wives and children were seized by Humayun's men from the fort of Agra. The Mughal Prince not only rescued them from their captors, but also treated them with courtesy. As a token of gratitude, they presented him with some precious jewels, including the invaluable Kohinoor.

Muhammad Shah was the tenth successor of Humayun. Nadir Shah took away the diamond from him in May, 1739. There is also a legend that as a result of the exchange of turbans by the Persian victor and the vanquished Mughal Emperor, the Kohinoor went to the former in the headgear of the latter.


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