Monday, September 3, 2001, Chandigarh, India



Freezing of Lok Sabha seats: a step in right direction

This refers to your editorial “An unacceptable freeze” (August 23). The freezing of the Lok Sabha seats until 2026 is a step in the right direction. Whether a constituency comprises more than 13 lakh electorate or less than one lakh hardly matters. An M.P. actually represents his or her political party which selects him or her for fighting the election. The voters who generally vote for the party label have no role in the election process except stamping on the ballot paper once in five years or even earlier and their chosen “representative” may sometimes be a complete stranger to the people of the constituency.

During the last Lok Sabha elections, Ms Sonia Gandhi and Ms Sushma Swaraj had travelled from New Delhi to far away Bellary in Karnataka to fight an electoral battle for the Congress and the BJP respectively. And the winner abandoned the people of Bellary soon after she learnt that she had also been elected from her “family” constituency in UP.

The Lok Sabha is not only “the power house of policy making”, the party which has majority, howsoever acquired, in the House, forms the government. And for over 45 years, the Prime Minister has come from one of the most populated and most backward states in the Hindi belt.

Any increase/decrease in the number of seats in the Lok Sabha would amount to rewarding inefficiency at the cost of efficiency. This is sure to create misgivings in the minds of the people of southern states, particularly Tamil Nadu, which may lead to unpleasant consequencies as rightly apprehended by you. Any reorganisation of power structure to enhance the importance of the Rajya Sabha is not likely to address the problem in a parliamentary system.



Amnesty proposal

I strongly condemn the proposal of providing a general amnesty to Punjab cops. One should keep in mind:

(1) Jaswant Singh Khalra (chief of the Akali Dal’s human rights wing) who meticulously collected records, affidavits and statements of chowkidars, priests and wood-suppliers to the cremation places in Punjab which provided with facts like 25,000 unidentified bodies being cremated in Amritsar district alone. He was picked up by SSP Ajit Singh, who later committed suicide.

(2) All policemen, special police officers and former police “cats” who turned approvers in the high court and confessed throwing truckloads of alive young men with their hands and feet tied into carnivorous fish-infested Harike-Patan in Tarn Taran on the orders of their superiors.

(3) The umpteen number of cases of fake encounters and extortion rackets run by policemen and later unearthed by the CBI on the orders of the Supreme Court. Somebody should check the benami properties of these officers who had acquired hundreds of acres of lands in lieu of lives of kidnapped Sikh youths.

(4) In the early nineties there was a dearth of Sikh youths aged between 16 and 35 in the rural areas of Gurdaspur, Tarn Taran and Amritsar.

I have a question for all those who seem to hold a misconception that Beant Singh and K.P.S. Gill eliminated “terrorism” from the state: Did they have a magic wand? Or was it genocide and a lot of their own “cats” who were disposed of in the end. Think it over!


‘Cast your votes’

I have a question regarding this “Cast your votes” section. It’s a nice thing though, and I myself participate in it. But does this really help to solve something or it is just some sort of an attraction for the readers?


My odyssey with Tribune

Let me take your readers “on a trip down the memory lane” of my 50 years association with The Tribune.

When I was still in school at Ambala cantt your publication had shifted to the Punjabi Mohalla locality of that town from Lahore after Partition. The press and the editorial offices, if I am not wrong, were housed in the evacuee property. In 1950 we decided to build our house on a plot opposite The Tribune press. Thus opposite The Tribune became a part of my home address, and remained my “permanent home address” right through my service period, even after your office had shifted to the more glamorous and spacious locales of Chandigarh.

Mr Raman, who was the manager of your printing press, lived just across the road. Seeing my quest for knowledge of the newspaper printing and publishing, he was kind enough to take me to different departments, while I was still in college. I think Mr Natrajan was the Editor, though I did not get an opportunity to meet the great luminary.

It is indeed satisfying to see the achievements of your esteemed publication since it was the leading newspaper of the north-western part of the country, always the first to give news. Later on, soon after getting commissioned in the Army, I was posted with my unit, for a tenure with the United Nations Force in Gaza, Egypt. I used to subscribe for my personal copy of The Tribune, right through one year of my stay there, since it was like a newsletter from my home town, not only for me but also for all officers hailing from Punjab and Haryana. Hence there was a long queue and they had to wait for their turn.

After hanging the uniform rather prematurely in 1979, I landed in the TIN Printing Industry, and that is where I feel my early knowledge of the printing field, courtesy Mr Raman, stood me in good stead. After gaining experience in the computer field, with the Computer Society of India as their Chief Executive, I started taking up “issues” on behalf of my comrades-in-uniform with the print media through “Letters to the Editor” in the leading national dailies and magazines, and have been doing so for the past six years or so as my societal obligation to the uniform.

Lt Col M.M. WALIA (retd), Mumbai

The hounded heroes

The article “The forgotten days and hounded heroes” by R.N. Prasher made a very thought-provoking reading. I would like to share the view of Surinder Sharma, a popular humourist. He very rightly pointed out that our human rights proponents in fact consider all those walking on two feet as human beings. They can’t distinguish between a “maanav” and a “daanav”! They, on seeing children looking for food in stinking dustbins, turn their faces, but shout slogans in favour of providing better food for criminals in jails!

Perhaps they forget that the only crime of these poor children who look for their food in dirt is that they did not become criminals! He went to the extent of saying that, “Thank God, this human rights commission was not there during Lord Ram Chander’s time. For, the commission would have raked a major protest against Lord Ram for killing Ravana (a king) and all his associates for a mere case of kidnapping of Sita!”

BALVINDER, Chandigarh

Pollution in Jallalabad

Jallalabad is heavily polluted. The rice-shellers there have installed anti-pollution instruments, but none of these work. The pollution department office there is just a show-piece.


Stamp on Norah Richards

The Centre has done well by agreeing to release a postage stamp on renowned painter Sobha Singh. Norah Richards birth anniversary falls on October 29. The Department of Posts should also issue a postage stamp on her birth anniversary. This will be a befitting tribute to this great Irish lady.


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