Saturday, April 13, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Need to resolve SYL issue through dialogue

THIS has reference to your editorial “In hot water again” (April 3). I fully support your view that “some solution will have to be worked out through dialogue by the parties concerned before the situation gets explosive.” Haryana should be wise enough to cover even the extra mile to reach some settlement because of two reasons. First, it is Haryana alone which is suffering on account of delay and second, because of its life-long handicap of being a lower shareholder of a water course, it is prudent not to have any confrontation with the upper one.

Such a settlement should not be difficult to achieve because the people of both states come from the same ethnic stock, have a common history and culture and do not have any ideological conflict. Was not such a settlement over the distribution of river waters reached even between India and Pakistan despite their proverbial hostility towards each other?

You are quite right in maintaining that a socio-economic issue like distribution of river water has been politicised. Had it not been so, misleading propaganda that the water which is to flow in Sutlez Yamuna Link (SYL) is that of the river Ravi over which Punjab has the so-called the riparian rights etc, would not have gained currency. The true picture is that at the time of partition of the Indus basin between India and Pakistan, under international law, the former had the right to withdraw water from the upper reaches of the rivers Sind, Jhelum and Chenab and the latter from the lower reaches of the river Ravi. In 1960, the two countries reached a settlement by which India agreed to forego its right of withdrawal from the rivers Sind, Jhelum and Chenab in exchange for its obligation to release Pakistan’s share of water in the Ravi. This created a surplus for India in the river Ravi which became the joint property of all the three Indian states in the Indus basin i.e. Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. By no stretch of imagination, can this water obtained by bartering, be called Ravi water. Where is the question of Punjab having some riparian right over it? By keeping mum over this explosive issue, our media has failed to do its duty of educating the public.


The recent report that Punjab has no plans for completing the construction of SYL is as disturbing as self-contradictory. Some 20 years ago, the Punjab government, on its own, and with no pressure from any quarter, had agreed to undertake the construction of this canal on contract basis. This sudden U-turn in its policy after spending over Rs 700 crore and without any provocation, is self-contradiction of a rare type. Where are the days of “Pran jaye per vachan na jaye”?

After 20 years of struggle, Haryana is back to square one. The relief likely to be available to it following the Supreme Court order is too little and too late. It has no reason to feel proud of either its diplomatic skill, statesmanship or achievement.

Former Engineer-in-Chief
Irrigation, Haryana.

We must speak before the fire reaches us

The Punjab Human Rights Organisation is outraged and shocked at what has happened at Sabarmati Ashram near Ahmedabad. Police joining goons for attacking journalists and sensitive souls of this country. And what the State government does is to transfer the police officer that had saved the scribes from further injury and insult. This is the limit. Now to keep silent is to commit a sin. What is happening in Gujarat is perhaps the strongest argument for Khalistan and another Pakistan. Does the Gujarat government realise what harm it is doing to the unity and integrity of the country by allowing continued killings?.

If Muslims are not safe, let them have a portion of India as per their population. If Sikhs are not safe how anyone can persuade the Sikhs to trust the government and the demand for Khalistan will again come into focus. The kind of state-managed ethnic cleaning is the strongest reason for the breakup of any country whether it is Bangladesh or Bosnia.

One step, which must be taken, is to sack the demonic Gujarat Chief Minister who is deaf to the cries of children and blind to the burning of human homes. If POTA has any justification at all, it is now and against the officers who do not do their sacred duty and against ministers who, sitting in the police control room, interfere with the law enforcement agencies. We pray and hope that each voice raised against this genocide will stop the mob from gaining more ground. We must speak before the fire reaches us.

Justice AJIT SINGH BAINS (retd.)
Chairman, Punjab Human Rights Organisation



Defensive imperialism

I have read with much interest the recent report in which Mr Robert Cooper, Senior Foreign Policy Adviser of British Prime Minister Tony Blair has advocated in writing what he has called “defensive imperialism” and “need for colonialisation”, regretting that as of today, there are “no colonial powers”. Apparently, Mr Blair has endorsed these views as a viable mechanism (for the new colonial powers) to deal with threats from “undemocratic states”.

I agree with both Mr Cooper and Mr Blair excepting that they expect western nations to be the new imperial powers as they are “well-governed” which is a fallacy; their knowledge about the rest of the world is obviously poor. Discounting the above ignorance which is common amongst the leaders of the West, I suggest that, to begin with, the USA should be colonialised by China which, after all, already has a good share of the consumer market in the USA and has one of the highest annual growth rates. The UK should be colonialised by South Africa; Russia by Japan; and Spain by Cuba. Italy will do well to be colonised by France and Vietnam together; and India should be satisfied by having Portugal as its colony. For the rest of the world, we could set up a committee under the United Nations with New Zealand as the chairman and Guatemala, Columbia and Maritius as the co-chairmen!


Appeasing minorities

Secularism is a pseudo term connoting nothing but appeasement of the minority and creating sizeable vote banks to win elections. India and Pakistan were created not on the mighty principle of secularism but two homelands for Hindus and Muslims on the basis of communal differentiation. The foundation of India was a homeland of only Hindus. Christian countries don’t speak of secularism. Muslim countries neither. Why are we afflicted with this disease of self-torture? Why is the Press so forgiving about Godhra carnage the cause which justifiably triggered the riots? Is a show of strength by the majority so difficult to understand?

New Delhi

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