Tuesday, April 24, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



Not a stray incident

Politicians prefer to ignore, if not forget completely, the lessons of history. It was not just in 1962 or in 1965 that China and Pakistan woke us up from complacency in bilateral neighbourliness. We have been receiving shocks from small neighbours such as Sri Lanka and Nepal where anti-India elements have been allowed to flourish. The latest unprovoked skirmishes with Bangladesh have made us pay the price of neglect in the sacrifice of our 16 BSF men.

The episode cannot be dismissed as a stray incident of border tension. It was a well-planned and professionally executed operation. How else can Bangladesh justify the sudden movement of BDR men in large numbers, their taking menacing positions and even digging trenches? Let us not dilute the seriousness of the matter in the high-sounding political rhetoric of ‘bilateral friendly spirit’.

There is a built-in hostility in our small neighbour, which we need to be aware of, howsoever we might have facilitated their liberation from Pakistan and helped them in their economic growth.

Once again our intelligence agencies have been caught napping. The Vajpayee Administration needs to be reminded that eternal vigilance, and not complacence, is the price of liberty and it must be geared up to safeguard national security. Howsoever small in size, the ‘Pyrdiwah’ siege by Bangladesh cannot be ignored or underplayed. In stead, it must be thoroughly investigated and deterrent measures taken to avoid any such future possibility anywhere along our international border.



A man in a million

People come and go but those who last in the memories of the masses are very few. They don’t live for themselves but for the welfare of others. They consider the whole society as their own family. Pandit Mohan Lal was one of those rare personalities.

However, his birth anniversary on April 17 went almost unnoticed. Born in 1905 at Fatehgarh Churian (Gurdaspur), he rose to become the Home, Education and Finance Ministers of joint Punjab through honest, methodical and hard work. He made a commendable contribution to the development of Punjab during his 17 years of political career.

He was among those freedom-fighters who chose politics not as a profession but as a means for dedicated service to society. His selfless service is still written in bold letters on the walls of Punjab. Every political leader respected him. His approach to life placed him at a high pedestal in the hearts of the masses.

P.K. BAJAJ, Chandigarh


Intelligence failure

It is strange that the gruesome events on Meghalaya-Bangladesh border have not been taken seriously by the authorities in India. Precious lives of our jawans have been lost and our area has been captured by a so-called friendly country. It was a well-planned operation by the Bangladesh Rifles and our guards were caught napping. The intelligence set-up of all the agencies once again failed and proved their incompetence. This is not the first time that they have failed and they deserve to be punished for their lapses. The government should not treat this as a minor event. The tendency to pass the buck to the lower levels must end.


Quiet border aflame

Pakistan’s Kargil misadventure and the loss of life was still fresh in our minds when a conflict on the eastern border, and that too with a friendly country, shook the nation.

The primary duty of the BSF is to protect our international borders but it is frequently inducted into internal security because of the failure of the police forces to deal with terrorists. Internal and external security are two different matters. The BSF should be withdrawn from internal security and be allowed to perform its primary task of policing the international border. It is also painful to note that not a word has been said in Parliament about those who died on the Bangladesh border.

The political bosses have hurt the pride of the security forces who are entrusted with the task of protecting the pride of the nation. This will certainly demoralise the security forces. It is important to live in peace with our neighbours but not at the cost of national pride.

The Bangladesh Government has described the incident as adventurism of its local commanders. This simple explanation from Dhaka is not sufficient. If the Bangladesh Government is serious on this issue then the BDR commanders responsible for this adventure must be punished.


Tit for tat

That Bangladesh military should attack Indian forces, capture an Indian village, and then justify it by saying that “we have just completed a mission to restore our territory and sovereignty”, shows the extent of their contempt for India which freed them from the clutches of an oppressive Pakistani regime. Bangladeshis have proved no different from the Pakistanis.

The Indian government must pay Bangladesh in the same coin, and adopt a tit for tat policy towards them.


Incompetent leaders

A puny ungrateful nation like Bangladesh dares to attack an Indian border post, kills many BSF men and captures others, tortures them and sends their mutilated bodies back and our leaders call this highly provocative act “local adventurism”. It has once again reminded us that the mighty Indian nation is led by incompetent men, who have brought shame to every Indian. There seems to be no end to the humiliations which every self-respecting Indian has been suffering because of these incompetent leaders.


Inappropriate choice

I was dismayed at the report of the official inauguration of the bicentenary celebrations of the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh at Patiala. The choice of the venue was most inappropriate. The organisers, in their over-zealousness, displayed a pathetic ignorance of history.

Patiala was never a part of the Maharaja’s kingdom. On the contrary the chiefs of Patiala and other Phulkian states sought the protection of the British to shatter the cherished dream of Maharaja Ranjit Singh to merge them into a strong and unified ‘Khalsa’ kingdom. He made a number of incursions into the cis-Sutlej area to achieve this purpose but the selfishness and greed of the chiefs prevailed over any sentiment of unity and patriotism. They readily fell in the arms of the British.

The betrayal of the chiefs and the mounting political and military pressure of the British forced Maharaja Ranjit Singh to grudgingly sign the Treaty of Lahore with the British on April 25, 1809.

The Maharaja signed the treaty out of practical compulsions, but he must have been seething with rage at the role played by the chiefs. What an irony that his coronation celebrations are inaugurated at the capital of the leading chief.


Demoralising paper

We were stunned to see Panjab University’s B Com (II) paper 7 (corporate accountancy) during the examination held on April 18. Besides certain questions appearing to be a little outside the syllabus, it was too difficult for the examinees to handle it. It was demoralising, to say the least.

The paper’s contents showed that it was not meant for testing the knowledge of students but their teachers. If this is how our teachers treat the sensitive and crucial job of paper-setting, there is no way to save the career of students.

Vibhu, Sharanjeet Singh and many others, Chandigarh

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