Sunday, June 2, 2002, Chandigarh, India

E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


The game of political moves and countermoves
Amrik Singh
ith the eruption of the Kashmir crisis, the Gujarat crisis has been put on the back burner. In any case, things had started settling down even before what happened in Jammu. One hopes that in the next few weeks, what happened in that state would become an unhappy memory, and no more.

Corruption: States can probe cases against top officers
Joginder Singh
n the light of the ongoing investigation into the conduct of Punjab Public Service Commission Chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu and others, it would be worthwhile to examine the role of the Central Bureau of Investigation and the state government’s powers and authority to probe cases against senior officers.


National Capital Region--Delhi



Musharraf’s address belies expectations
Rakshat Puri
eneral Musharraf’s address on May 27 turned out to be mostly repetitive of what he said on January 12. He denied there was any terrorist infiltration from Pakistan across the LoC.

Of Sharon’s ‘achievement’
Abu Abraham
enin has become, in the vocabulary of the major horrors of the world, like Belsen or Dachau, the Nazi concentration camps. The irony is that it is the victims of the Nazis, the Jews, who have perpetrated it.


Harihar Swarup
Polanski, Hitchcock’s fan & lover of horror films
annes film festival has been the biggest annual show on earth when most beautiful, talented and bright from the movie theatre around the world assemble at this picturesque French city. The awards go to the outstanding and the recipients — directors, actors, actresses, script writers — are acclaimed across the globe and make banner headlines. 


These are red missiles painted green!
hat’s there in a name? Shakespeare said. Ask Pakistan. A lot, Islamabad would argue. See the latest “test-firing” by Pakistan of three missiles — Ghauri, Ghaznavi and Abdali. The message is unequivocal and clear.

  • Nafisa link

  • Bairagi's gun

  • Jaya Prada & RS

  • BJP vs Congress

  • Name-plate game


Humra Quraishi
Lone was optimistic of bringing Kashmiris together
ill there be war? This is the question many can be heard asking. No, there’s no answer to this simple query because though there are war cries by men on both sides, they are awaiting the final nod by that man called Uncle Sam. Till he gives that order in that typical nasalish voice, “Yeh, go ahead boys”. 

  • Africa Day

  • UN visitorTop


The game of political moves and countermoves
Amrik Singh

With the eruption of the Kashmir crisis, the Gujarat crisis has been put on the back burner. In any case, things had started settling down even before what happened in Jammu. One hopes that in the next few weeks, what happened in that state would become an unhappy memory, and no more.

What hurt a large number of people in this somewhat manoeuvred crisis was the fact that, after series of defeats in state elections, something unexpected and ugly had happened in Gujarat. In his anxiety to cash in on it, the Chief Minister decided to take cynical, electoral advantage of it. After the intervention of the Supreme Court in the Ayodhya case, most people were not in a mood to permit communal killings to determine the politics of tomorrow. The reaction against the shameless trading of communal killings for votes was so intense that, at the end of it, the BJP had to beat a retreat.

Ultimately the BJP has had to deny to itself the use of the weapon of communal mobilisation. In the past, the BJP could use this as and when it wanted to revive its sagging fortunes. But, unless one is seriously wrong in one’s assessment, it would not be easy to do so henceforth.

Mr L.K. Advani, who drummed up support for Narendra Modi in order to tide over the crisis that had arisen could see clearly that the pendulum was going against the BJP. To have dropped him would have amounted to a political setback. But to prop him in office indefinitely was also difficult. In this context, two of Mr Advani’s observations may be recalled.

The first one made some months ago was that, in the given political situation, no ideological party (whether of the left or the right) could capture power at the Centre by itself. Seeking support of the others was almost a necessity. The BJP operating under the banner of the NDA, had managed to pull it off successfully. Also Mr Advani was clear headed enough to recognise that Mr Vajpayee as the front man could pull it off while he himself would not be able to do so. It was, therefore, he who projected Mr Vajpayee as the leader of the new formation. His own standing did not suffer thereby. He has continued to be influential and powerful. Nothing could be done without his consent. To that extent, he played a noteworthy role in making it possible for the NDA to come into existence and survive in office successfully, at least so far.

Secondly, he recognised a few weeks ago that things were not going well with the BJP. He admitted that the BJP’s claim to be ‘a party with a difference’ had not carried conviction with the masses. This fact, in his judgement, was the real cause for the growing disenchantment with the BJP. He proposed that some people, now in the government, should be asked to step down, accept responsibility for party work and those who stayed on in the government should give a distinctly better account of themselves. Altogether Mr Advani has demonstrated again that, if he has risen to the top, it was in recognition of his uncommon abilities, more particularly his sense of timing.

Will this analysis by Mr Advani lead to better governance and more decisive implementation of the BJP programme? It is difficult to say anything. Likely, his analysis may remain on paper or even be hailed as unexceptionable. Yet, nothing significant may get done. Some changes might be made to improve the situation. But these may not be decisive enough to return the BJP to power.

There are so many issues to be tackled. For instance, not enough attention is being paid to the unrestrained growth of population. Joblessness has become an acute problem. There is the relentless growth of lumpen elements. When there is lawlessness and rioting it was these elements who became the unintended beneficiaries of what was happening.

At the same time, due notice of what has been done in UP should be taken. The BJP has denied itself a great deal and accepted Mayawati as the Chief Minister. Given the situation, the BJP was left with no other choice. Similar experience in the past had not yielded favourable results. It is difficult to say that this time the results will be more favourable. The chances of such a development are greater however. The BJP has recognised that there are limitations to religious revivalism and stoking the communal fire. Therefore, electoral adjustments will have to be made. The rise of the Dalits as a political force is a fact of life. Working out a deal with the BSP in UP is an illustration of that approach. Perhaps, a similar, flexible approach will have to be adopted about the numerous regional outfits that have flowered in a number of states.

Should this deal work out as visualised, it could lead to a significant shift of forces, both in UP and some other states. As a political weapon this particular development has possibilities even though its political cost would be considerable. It appears, however, that the BJP is prepared to pay it.

Two other serious setbacks to the BJP might also be referred to in this connection. One was the Supreme Court judgement in regard to the change of history syllabus at the school level. The second was the report made by the Committee to Review the Working of the Constitution. This committee did not make the kind of recommendations that the BJP would have liked to be made. Both these developments are significant in their own right. Owing to the public preoccupation with the Gujarat situation, however, they did not receive the attention they deserved.

In this game of political moves and countermoves, how the Congress redoes its sums is a matter of considerable significance. Perhaps it would be safe to say that the Congress has learnt a lesson from Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi did. Both the mother and the son thought that they could play the communal card and earn political mileage from it. Indira Gandhi got killed in the course of her mishandling of Punjab. Rajiv Gandhi took the risk of getting the Ayodhya temple unlocked in order to outsmart the BJP. What he overlooked was that, if he could play the communal card, the BJP could play it a thousand times better. Experience over the last two decades has shown conclusively that unless the Congress returns to its policy of carrying the different communities, particularly the minorities, with it, has no political future.

Yet another dimension of the unfolding situation is Mrs Sonia Gandhi’s own standing as the leader of the party. While everyone distrusts everyone else, most Congressmen find it convenient to project Sonia as the one person they can all agree upon. There are serious reservations, however, in regard to her capability and her political potential. It should not be necessary to dilate upon this issue. But the problem is there and it cannot be overlooked.

In this dicey situation, two things stand out. The first one is that the BJP, while continuing to remain in power for the next couple of years under the mask of the NDA, will find it difficult to return to power in 2004. Secondly, the Congress is in a better position to recapture power than it was a few years ago.

But then, this should not be taken to mean an automatic Congress return to power. Quite some people in the Congress are inclined to think like that. The Congress has not performed all that impressively during the last few years; only there is a certain measure of disenchantment with the BJP. In other words, developments of the last few years have given rise to hopes and expectations but those need not be all that extravagant.

The BJP had not given up the fight. It went to the extent of owning up Modi even though it knew that, while doing so, it was loading itself with a liability. He had to be helped out in the interests of sheer survival! Despite all the attacks on it, the NDA government has survived and is likely to stay in office. Its real test will come now: Can it perform or not? If it manages to perform, the Congress would be in difficulties. If it fails to perform, the Congress would have an easier time. A walkover, however, is out of question. Thus, everything will depend upon the performance of the two political formations during the next couple of years.

In plain words, the basic issue today is the ability to govern. With population booming, the darkening international situation and the rate of growth hovering around what is happening today, the future is far from bright. Unless a political party can ensure good governance, it would be a drag on the system. The sooner we grasp this truth, the better it would be for the country.

The writer is former Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala.


Corruption: States can probe cases against top officers
Joginder Singh

In the light of the ongoing investigation into the conduct of Punjab Public Service Commission Chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu and others, it would be worthwhile to examine the role of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the state government’s powers and authority to probe cases against senior officers.

The Government of India, had issued a directive in 1988 to regulate the methodology of investigation of cases by the CBI and especially the investigation of cases against senior officers. The main charter of the CBI, is to investigate offences, pertaining to corruption and implementation of the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, in so far as the Central Government employees, or Central funds is concerned. Since police is a state subject, the State Police is equally competent, to register cases against the Central Government employees, including ministers and former ministers, who might be or had been public servants. In practice, it is very rare that the state anti-corruption agencies take any action against the Central Government officials working in a particular State.

There is a wrong notion that action against the past or present public servants of the Central Government can be taken only by the Special Police Establishment, the legal name of the CBI. The position is just the reverse. The CBI functions in a State with its consent. Whenever there was a change of guard in many highly politicised states, some of them, including Karnataka withdrew the consent for the functioning of the CBI. This consent is not for taking action against the State employees, but those who are functioning in connection with the affairs of the Central Government. The position is clear that for taking action against any state government employees, the CBI has no authority unless a request is sent to the CBI and the Central Government to take up the investigation.

This is equally applicable to IAS and IPS officers, working in states. Investigation of corruption cases is not a simple affair. Most state governments, including Punjab, UP, Haryana and many others have laid down, that for taking action against any government employee the Chief Secretary’s permission is essential. This is to protect biradari and for no other good reason.

The same position prevailed in the Central Government till December 18, 1997. The 1988 directive of the Central Government had laid down that the Special Police Establishment, would need the prior permission of the concerned administrative secretary before starting any inquiry/investigation against any official of the rank of Joint Secretary and above. The Government of India issued single directive which also said that the SPE will take into confidence the Head of the Department or office concerned before taking up any inquiry (PE or RC) or soon after starting the enquiry. This will also apply in case a search is required to be made.

The CBI was set up by an executive order on April 1, 1963. It derives its legal sanction from the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE). The Act empowers the Central Government to constitute a special police force to be called the DSPE for investigation in any Union Territory of such offences as may be specified. With the consent of a State, the Centre can extend to it the powers and jurisdiction of the CBI. Thereupon, a CBI officer can discharge in the State the functions of a police officer and, while doing so, “be deemed to be a member of the police force of that area”.

However, its powers and duties, whether in a Union Territory or a State, are no different from those of any police force. The Indian Penal Code defines the offences. The Criminal Procedure Code confers the powers of investigation and arrest and prescribes the procedure. No executive officer, whether Prime Minister or Cabinet Secretary, can interfere with these statutory powers.

Justice J.L. Kapur, a former Judge of the Supreme Court, who inquired into the conspiracy to murder Gandhi considered the legal position in detail and said thus: “In the opinion of the Commission, although the Home Minister is in charge of the police and police administration and is answerable to Parliament about it, still he has no power to direct the police how they should exercise their statutory powers, duties or discretion. Both under the Criminal Procedure Code and under the Bombay City Police Act, the statutory duty of the police is both to prevent crime and bring criminals to justice. Therefore, the Minister can and could only pass on the information of the commission of an offence to the police to investigate so also in regard to the threats of the commission of an offence. If the Minister were to give orders about arrests to arrest or not to arrest that would be an end of the rule of law”.

Justice Kapur pointed out that the Government’s “administrative control” of the police and constitutional accountability, according to the legislature does not entitle it to interfere. “The distinction between the administrative supervision and direct interference begins with statutory powers, a well-recognised principle of the rule of law.”

The rationale behind the Government of India’s directive was that the officers at the decision-making level needed to be protected against any possible harassment. The directive had perverted the system so much that no permission would be forthcoming for years together and nobody at the same time would say that the permission was denied. It was almost killing a case with delay. The position in the States, which are responsible for the administration at the cutting edge level, continues to be grim.

It is for the simple reason that no protection or every support is available to the investigating officers, who fight their battles on their own, against high paid, fine print reading lawyers, who would like to tear the investigating officers to pieces for the heavy fee coming from the ill-gotten gains of the corrupt accused.

This matter of putting fetters on the powers of the CBI (it includes the police) was examined by the Supreme Court in cases 226 before a Bench consisting of Chief Justices J.S. Verma, and Justices S.P. Bharucha and S.C. Sen, both judges in Vineet Narain and others versus Union of India and another respondent, in writ petitions (Cr1). Nos 340-343 of 1993 and the case was decided on December 18, 1997.

In para 60 of the judgement, the Supreme Court amplified the meaning of the word ‘superintendence’ in S. 4 (1) as under; “While jurisdiction to confer power on CBI to investigate in respect of any offence or class of offences by issuing notification under S. 3 lies in Central Government exercise of power of investigation by the CBI is governed by statutory provisions under the general law applicable to such investigations. That statutory power cannot be subjected to executive control. The general superintendence of the Central Government is distinct from and does not extend to actual investigation of an offence.

The Central Government cannot issue executive instructions or directives restraining the CBI from initiating investigation against certain officers functioning at “decision-making level” without obtaining prior sanction of the government. In the absence of any such requirement under any provisions under the Prevention of Corruption Act, the DSPE Article or any other statute. Hence the single directive No. 4.7 (3) issued by the Government which requires prior sanction of the designated authority to initiate investigation against officers of the Government and public sector undertakings, nationalised banks who are ‘decision-making level officers’ held invalid and cannot be sustained on ground of being within the powers of superintendence of the Central Government.

What the Supreme Court says is the law of the land. Either state governments including Punjab are not aware of the decision of the Supreme Court or have deliberately put fetters on the anti-corruption agencies to provide undue and uncalled for protection to the favoured ones, especially those in senior positions.

It does not stand to logic as to how could any State Government including that of Punjab decide whether action should be taken against anybody involved in malfeasance. To be charitable, it can only be said in its favour that it is not aware of the latest Supreme Court ruling which is compounded by the lack of vigilance of the public or the Press.

Any restriction or so-called examination by a Committee of Secretaries on who should be investigated or who should be kept under the blanket cover of committee is both bad in law and fact. It is best to keep in mind what the Supreme Court has said: however high you may be, the law is above you.

The writer is former Director, Central Bureau of Investigation.


Musharraf’s address belies expectations
Rakshat Puri

General Musharraf’s address on May 27 turned out to be mostly repetitive of what he said on January 12. He denied there was any terrorist infiltration from Pakistan across the LoC. He said nobody would be allowed to use Pakistan as a base for terrorism “against anybody”. He denied Pakistan was linked to the December 13 attack. He hinted that India had murdered Abdul Ghani Lone.

General Musharraf appeared to justify “Islamic” fundamentalism by citing “Hindu” extremist violence. He would hold fair and transparent elections in October. He referred implicitly to nuclear weaponry when he said “we will respond (in war) with all our might”. He also said Pakistan would not begin a war. He criticised Pakistani political parties for not accepting his invitation for consultations on war. The address belied expectations of any real step forward.

So, India and Pakistan seem to move towards a climax. They could also be moving towards an anti-climax. The anti-climax, if it should come, does not have to be at the cost of Delhi’s resiling from its justified stand on Pakistan sending “jehadi” terrorists into India across the J-K Line of Control.

Depending on how Delhi manoeuvres its pieces for the endgame, things could move towards some kind of a pressure in and outside Pakistan that might checkmate missile-happy Islamabad without taking resort to war. Other options are also available.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw visited India and Pakistan. While he expected Pakistan to stop cross-border terrorism immediately a few days earlier, Straw said in a BBC programme that Kashmir was “unfinished business” — that the question about “who should run Kashmir was never fully solved”. This was very different from US President Bush’s blunt advice to Musharraf: Bush, in Paris, curtly asked the Pakistani dictator to cut the missile and curb the “jehadis”. Bush’s National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice has commended India for its restraint. US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage is visiting India this week.

In the context of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan also having joined the chorus for peace in South Asia, it does seem strange that neither the UN — whose Commission for India and Pakistan has been in J-K since the 1940s UN Resolutions — nor any other leaderin the international community commented on when (a) after the mid-1950s Chinese forces occupied J-K’s Aksai Chin; and when, in 1963, Pakistan brazenly ceded J-K’s Shaksgam valley to China. Jammu-Kashmir was all the time under UN consideration.

Little seems known about British manoeuvres relating to J-K just before Partition. The British wanted their own or British-American influence to remain there.

In June 1947, Lord Mountbatten went to Srinagar to consult with Maharaja Hari Singh, who was expected to join either Pakistan or India before August 15. Hari Singh was said to be ill. Mountbatten spent five days in J-K, carrying on a dialogue with his Prime Minister Ramchandra Kak, who was known to be on good terms with the British authorities, and an inflexible supporter of independence for J-K. According to the official record, Mountbatten suggested to Kak that a decision on J-K’s future had to be taken immediately: the State would have to choose between India and Pakistan. After August 15, said Mountbatten, the Maharaja would lose Viceregal protection. Mountbatten is said to have mentioned that Nehru felt strongly about J-K. Was this all that Mountbatten discussed with Kak for five days?

What transpired there is history. There is ample indication available from past sources about the British role in laying the foundation for today’s troubled situation in J-K. Now Britain, along with others, is hopping around in South Asia to prevent a nuclear war between Pakistan and India. But Delhi does not immediately need to think of war. There are other means to persuade Musharraf.

Consider, for instance, ending the Most Favoured Nation status to Pakistan. India is evidently required to extend it under the WTO terms.

Even a sustained and rigorous effort to end large-scale smuggling of consumer items into Pakistan from India might disconcert common folk there. Even more effective might be suspension or abrogation of the Indus Basin Treaty.

General Ayub Khan, in a speech at the National Press Club in Washington on July 13, 1961 emphasised the importance of the Indus basin waters and consequently of the Treaty: “We cannot give up that (Kashmir) dispute, not because we are bloody-minded but... for the reason that Kashmir is connected with our physical security. Thirty-two million acres in Pakistan are irrigated from rivers that start in Kashmir”.

This was stated in 1961. The Indus Basin Treaty was signed in 1960. Ayub Khan evidently was not confident that the treaty would safeguard the Pakistani economic security.

But he did indicate Pakistan’s dependence on the Treaty’s continuing to be observed thoroughly. That has been indicated in recent months too — fears were reported in the Dawn recently, for instance, at the Commissioners for Indus Waters of the two sides not having met on schedule.

The Indus Basin Commission held its annual meeting in New Delhi very recently. True, abrogation or suspension of the treaty would not have an immediate effect. Facilities would take time to construct for diversion of the extra water. Very likely, suspension or abrogation of the treaty — being contrary to international law — would gain displeasure for India in the international community.

As for the practical impact of the treaty’s suspension or abrogation, Ayub Khan’s nervousness could not have been without reason, could it? The Indus Basin Commission meeting was a useful occasion to indicate to the Pakistani side possibilities to the treaty’s suspension or abrogation.

Musharraf’s May 27 address makes it clear that the international community is unable to check him as he plays around with China-gifted missiles to show the world that he has a finger on the nuclear button.

If the Indus Treaty were to be suspended, it is conceivable that nervous farmers and others in Pakistan would exert pressure on the Musharraf regime to turn to peace and progress for desired prosperity and plenty.

We in India know the clout that a disconcerted, hurt and discontented farming fraternity can wield. Asia Features


Of Sharon’s ‘achievement’
Abu Abraham

Jenin has become, in the vocabulary of the major horrors of the world, like Belsen or Dachau, the Nazi concentration camps. The irony is that it is the victims of the Nazis, the Jews, who have perpetrated it.

Jenin can be described as the brutal achievement of one man, Ariel Sharon, whose bloody record in Sabra and Shatilla, one had imagined, was difficult to surpass. A few thousands of defenceless Palestinian and Lebanese refugees were massacred in the operation on the Lebanese border in 1982. Sharon was the defence minister of Israel then.

The full story of Jenin has not yet been brought into the world’s view. But, as The Guardian newspaper wrote, it is, though only half told still, “set to live on in memory in the history of the Palestinian struggle”.

Sharon seems to get away with it. Bush still calls him a ‘man of peace’.

The Guardian wrote: “Jenin refugee camp looks like the scene of a crime. Its concrete rubble and tortured metal evoke another horror half a world away from in New York, smaller in scale but every bit as repellent and every bit as man-made. Jenin smells like a crime. The stench of decaying flesh greets those aid workers and reporters who manage to gain access. Jenin feels like a crime”.

A reporter of The Observer, London, describes the sheer intensity of the devastation of the camp. “You see it the moment you enter what once was the heart of the Jenin camp. The aerial photographs do not convey the shock of what you see. On the ground, it is the detail of ordinary life destroyed that catches the eye. Tangled mounds of concrete climb up a gentle slope. The eye alights on a shoe here, the leg of a doll, bedding, pages from the Koran, pictures and shards of broken mirror…The true crime of Jenin is this act of physical erasure”.

Acts like this are covered by Article 147 of the fourth Geneva Convention, that prohibits “extensive destruction of property, not justified by military necessity committed either unlawfully or wantonly”.

Article 147 mentions other crimes that may be applicable to Jenin: the alleged taking of hostages for human shields; the army’s refusal of access for humanitarian and emergency medical help, and deliberate targeting of civilians by Israeli snipers. Israeli army commandos reject the term “human shields”: they say Palestinian civilians were used as “guides”.

Ariel Sharon has defied US Secretary of State Colin Powell and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He would neither withdraw from the West Bank, nor give access to the UN personnel to visit the areas he has turned to rubble. He has taken President Bush for a ride.

Claiming to be with the President in his fight against terrorism, he has himself unleashed a terror against Palestinians that has shocked human rights groups and humanitarian aid agencies. He has repeatedly ignored President Bush’s calls to withdraw from the West Bank cities, confident that the power of the Israeli lobby in the USA will protect him. Besides, of course, the American media is almost totally with Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians.

The truth is that Sharon and his government as well as a good majority of Israelis are not in favour of giving Palestine the status of a free State. They fear that a Palestinian State alongside Israel would make a Jewish State insecure.

But there are hopeful signs that public opinion within the USA and most of Europe is becoming increasingly critical of Israeli belligerence. In Israel itself there is a powerful movement for peace, as was witnessed the other day in a huge rally in Tel Aviv, demanding withdrawal from Palestinian territories. In the end, it will be world opinion that will make the difference, not Bush or Sharon.

What about Indian opinion? There is a curious silence in the country about the Israel-Palestine conflict. It never used to be like this. India has always taken a clear stand on this issue. From Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru onwards we have shown full sympathy for the Palestinians.

But now with India being heavily involved with the Israeli arms market, and with the Sangh Parivar and the Hindu Right in general showing its preference for the Jewish State rather than the Muslim State, even our External Affairs Ministry reserves its comments to perfunctory platitudes. But then of course, Gujarat has virtually crippled our foreign policy.Top


Polanski, Hitchcock’s fan & lover of horror films
Harihar Swarup

Cannes film festival has been the biggest annual show on earth when most beautiful, talented and bright from the movie theatre around the world assemble at this picturesque French city. The awards go to the outstanding and the recipients — directors, actors, actresses, script writers — are acclaimed across the globe and make banner headlines. This year too a “healthy doze” of Cannes favourites and some new faces, too, were among the directors who presented their films. Rise from their midst was a Franco-Polish Director, Roman Polanski to bag coveted Golden Palm award for his film — “The Pianist”. The 68-year-old Director was born in France to Jewish parents but returned to Poland before the war, during which time his mother died in a concentration camp. The story of Pianist revolves around one man’s survival in the Warsaw ghetto during the World War II.

Polanski is known for his psychological dramas, dark comedies and tragic personal life. So much so that a genius, as Polanski is, developed a streak of perversity. He was barely three years old when his parents returned to Poland just two years before the War; both his father and mother were later taken to concentration camp. His mother could not withstand the atrocities in the camp and died but the young lad managed to escape the ghetto.

Wondering round the Polish countryside, Polanski learnt to survive, living with different Catholic families. Even in those dark days when locals usually ignored cinemas where mostly German films were shown, Polanski frequented them. Seeds of talent, which sown at that tender age, proliferated years after. With the war coming to an end in 1945, he was reunited with his father who sent him to a technical school but the young man had already chosen his career.

Years of struggle culminated in success when Polanski’s two films — “Repulsion” and “Cul-de-Sac”— shot in England and co-authored by a young script writer bagged Silver and Golden Bears at the Berlin Film Festivals in 1968. He then went to Hollywood where he gained the reputation with the psychological thriller “Rosemary’s Baby”. Tragedy struck him again as his wife was brutally murdered when he was out-of-town by cult leader, Charles Manson and members of his gang.

A shaken Polanski decided to return to Europe. He returned to American again in 1974 and made a huge success with his film “China Town”, but the streaks of perversity were more visible in him by now. As he was about to make promising Hollywood career, he was involved in rape of a 13-year old girl and was prosecuted. He fled from the USA, never to return again, to escape conviction.

Readers of this column will like to know what “The Pianist” is all about which made Polanski one of world’s most famous Director. This is the true story of how Polish pianist, Wladyslaw Szpilman, avoided being sent to the Nazi concentration camps, living in hiding in the Warsaw ghetto from 1935 to 1945. The focus was on how he used his music to get through the horror and resembles the life story of Polanski. The story, in fact, is based on the Polish composer’s autobiography, first published in 1946. The original title of the book was — “Death of a City”. The filming started in February 2001 at a studio in Berlin; some scenes were also shot in Poland. The estimated budget was $35 million.

The very name, Roman Polanski, says the noted critic Taylor Montague, conjures mixed feelings in anyone who has followed his life or seen any of his films. In his formative years, he was considered brilliant, a genius. Later his sensational personal life distracted the media from the merits of his films; they would forever be associated with various scandals revolving around his life. Few in the field of entertainment have been plagued by so much tragedy and scandal as Polanski. He is fond of horror movies and a fan of Hitchcock. He said in a recent interview: “I was fan of some of Hitchcock’s movies. Generally speaking it’s not the type of cinema that appeals to me greatly, but I liked Psycho. I like a good scare in the theatre. I have had many great moments watching horror movies”.

Polanski says: “Memories are like clouds at Amazon and I can only say that whatever my life and work have been, I am not envious of any one — and this is my biggest satisfaction”. He says: “My films are the expression of momentary desires. I follow my instincts, but in a disciplined way”. He was also often quoted as saying: “Normal love isn’t interesting. I assure you that it is incredibly boring”.


These are red missiles painted green!

What’s there in a name? Shakespeare said. Ask Pakistan. A lot, Islamabad would argue. See the latest “test-firing” by Pakistan of three missiles — Ghauri, Ghaznavi and Abdali. The message is unequivocal and clear.

The missiles are named after three notorious Muslim rulers who looted, plundered and raped India. It’s another matter that India believes that these missiles were only “fired”, not “test-fired”. The Indian argument: the Pakistani missiles are “ready-made” acquired from foreign countries.

Everybody knows these are red missiles painted green. Despite the seriousness of the threat posed by the neighbour, the defence circles here are agog with all kinds of jokes. And these jokes ridicule Pakistanis. One of the jokes goes like this. Guess why Pakistan cannot use its missiles which it has flaunted in the past week? Consider two reasons. One, the instruction manuals are in Chinese and Korean, the languages the Pakistanis are not proficient in. Not as yet.

Secondly, the Pakistanis know in the heart of their hearts that the Chinese and the North Koreans have passed on scrap material to them in the shape of missiles and are afraid that these may explode in their own territory.

Nafisa link

The presence of former Miss India-turned social activist Nafisa Ali during a press conference held here by Chief Trustee of Ram Janambhoomi Nyas (RJN) Mahant Dharam Dass, who these days has launched a campaign against the VHP on the temple issue, raised the curiosity of the mediapersons. More than what was being said by Mahant, the scribes seemed to be reading more into the presence of Nafisa with a video recorder throughout the conference, called under the banner of ‘Vishwa Dharam Raksha Parishad’ (VRDP). Soon after the conference ended, some of the mediapersons rushed towards Ms Ali and wanted to know whether she has a greater role to play in the organisation than her mere presence at the conference.

Although Nafisa confided that she merely helped the VDRP in organising the press conference, all were not ready to buy her statement. Mahant Dharam Dass, who is the main petitioner in the Ayodhya case before the Allahabad High Court, said during the press conference that he would involve respectable people from other faiths also in resolving the ticklish temple issue. Is Nafisa playing any role in the Ayodhya temple movement?

Bairagi's gun

Rajya Sabha MP Balkavi Bairagi surprised everyone including Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee the other day at the wedding reception of Dalip Singh Bhuria’s daughter when he approached the Prime Minister surrounded by his gun-wielding SPG personnel saying that he has also brought his gun to present to him. Vajapyee, for a minute startled, gathered his wits and asked Bairagi to bring his gun. Bairagi, known for his ready wit and humour, introduced his wife to the Prime Minister saying that she was his gun being a “Bairagun”.

Jaya Prada & RS

Cine-star of yesteryears Jaya Prada became a darling of the Rajya Sabha and elders did not realise how fast six years came to end. A second term for her was their fervent wish but their disappointment was writ large on their faces when they came to know that Telugu Desam supremo Chandrababu Naidu was not giving her a second term. Jaya, once the apple of Chandrababu’s eyes, had fallen foul with his better half who reportedly put her foot down resulting in the cine-star’s ouster from the upper house of Parliament, a little bird tells us.

BJP vs Congress

Has the BJP outsmarted Congress on the issue of presidential polls? As the ruling party, the BJP has so far tried to ensure that it has the last word in the matter. The Congress, which after some hard thinking and without a formal word from Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, finally gave its word of support to President K. R.Narayanan, has a hard task up its sleeve. In the likely event of Narayanan not agreeing to contest the presidential race, it either has to back a candidate of the NDA (read BJP) or field one of its own.

Given the slight edge in favour of the NDA in the presidential sweepstakes and the stated position of the Congress to try and have a consensus for the top post in these trying times before the country, it would not be easy for the party to get its candidate elected. Of course, the tradition has been that the President has always been a person of the choice of the Prime Minister and it would be suprising if things turn out to be different this time.

So far, the BJP seems to have played its cards well. The Congress must be wary of the difficulty it had to face when it ended up suppporting a Shiv Sena candidate as Lok Sabha Speaker. The contest is getting more and more curious.

Name-plate game

Though Ghulam Nabi Azad was sent as PCC chief to Jammu and Kashmir, he continues to have his room at the AICC office. Azad, of course, is no ordinary PCC chief, reporting directly as he is to the office of the Congress President. A national figure of the Congress, he apparently went to head the fractured PCC in trouble-torn Jammu and Kashmir after extracting a few concessions.

While Vayalar Ravi, one of the new general secretaries was given the room of Mahavir Prasad, Mr Azad’s room was not touched. Mukul Wasnik was given Sunil Dutt’s room. Azad’s name-plate at the AICC indicates that he is sure to return to the Congress central office once the elections are over in Jammu and Kashmir. To those who, in some way contributed to his going to J&K, the message must be loud and clear.

Contributed by T.V. Lakshminarayan, Rajeev Sharma, S. Satyanarayanan, Satish Misra, GirjaShankar Kaura and Prashant Sood.



Lone was optimistic of bringing Kashmiris together
Humra Quraishi

Will there be war? This is the question many can be heard asking. No, there’s no answer to this simple query because though there are war cries by men on both sides, they are awaiting the final nod by that man called Uncle Sam. Till he gives that order in that typical nasalish voice, “Yeh, go ahead boys”. We could be sitting unsure, rather sure of nothing much happening. Here, of course, peace activists are taking no chances and on June 1, over five organisations including the Indo-Pakistan Peace Forum, Aman Ekta Manch, took out a peace march from Vithalbhai Patel House.

“We want people to realise the disasters associated with war. War would mean disaster for both the countries”, says Syeda Hameed, one of the main organisers of this meet. Armed with some hard facts on nuclear disasters, leading anti-nuclear activists would also be participating in this meet. Then, there are political analysts who are trying hard to comment on the war cries providing the needful diversions from the disturbing home situation — Narendra Modi and his men are sitting untouched, Kashmir politics has got more complicated with the murder of Abdul Gani Lone. With the no- transparency mood getting fashionable by the day, one is not sure who were his killers.

Not that his attackers were condemned ( remember weeks before his murder he was attacked by Shiv Sainiks in Jammu and there wasn’t much hue and cry from those in the establishment) so his murderers are yet to be named.

Last July-August, when I had met Lone sahib in Srinagar, he was just offloaded from a Delhi-bound flight and being put under house arrest. Yet even in that condition, he was able to give the promised interview. It was a strange situation. As I waited for him on the appointed time, at the RajBagh situated Huriyat office, news came of his house arrest and just then a phone call came from him: “I’m sorry I am unable to come down to the office as they have put me under house arrest. Nevertheless they cannot stop me from talking to you on the phone...I had promised to give you this interview and promises have to be kept at all costs”.

The telephonic interview (with he in his home confines and I in the Hurriyat office) lasted more than 40 minutes. With over a dozen cops keeping an eye on him, Lone spoke bluntly of the games the establishment was playing and how chaotic the Kashmir politics was turning out to be. He spoke of Kashmiriyat and was optimistic of getting the Kashmiris together.

“There’s no doubt that Kashmir belongs to the Pandits, Muslims and Buddhists...we didn’t want the Pandits to flee... it was part of the strategy of those in power, to create an atmosphere of chaos and confusion.” With his death, the state seems to be in the grip of further chaos and tension.

Africa Day

Having seen the lavish spread to mark Africa Day celebrations here, one couldn’t have imagined that Southern Africa faces the worst famine of the decade. Reports state that some ten million people in four African countries are at risk of starvation; the situation could become grimmer if reports on Zambia and some parts of Mozambique are added to the assessment.

The UN’s World Food Programme Organisation states that four million tonnes of food will need to be imported for Malawi, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Swaziland... With this news in the backdrop, if you were present last week at Ashoka’s Convention Hall, you wouldn’t have ever believed that the situation is so grim because that evening there seemed no shortage of food

Over a thousand guests were fed the best possible delicacies and as one moved from one table to the next, it was almost unbelievable how we Indians ate. Late comers like our envoy to Senegal were left with little to eat as the counters put up by Libya, Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, Ethopia, Nigeria, Sudan and the other countries of the African Union were almost besieged by the guests.

UN visitor

Last week UNHCR’s New Delhi-based chief Dr Mahiga hosted a reception in honour of the visiting United Nations Chief Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers. He has been visiting Afghan refugee camps on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border areas and has been trying to bring about relief to hundreds of the stranded refugee families.

He was extremely cautious while answering queries vis-a-vis the growing influx of refugees the world over. When I queried him on whether the Right Wing government at the Centre was posing problems for the refugees coming into our borders, he didn’t utter a word but simply nodded!Top

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