Wednesday, June 5, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Need for direct interaction with Kashmiris

An editorial “Kashmir package” was published in The Tribune on May 25. In this connection, I would like to narrate a factual and interesting incident which took place in Srinagar in November, 1965.

In 1965 after the war with Pakistan, I had an opportunity to head a mission to Srinagar arranged by the khadi organisation of Punjab. The purpose was to help Kashmiri families who prepare shawls and readymade Kashmiri garments to be sold to tourists. During and after the 1965 war, no tourists visited Kashmir. Hence, the articles prepared by Kashmiri families could not be sold. The people were facing an acute recession.

The purpose of the mission was to buy the unsold articles from various families so that these could be sold through the various outlets of the khadi organisations.

I was supposed to visit various artisan families to buy their manufactured and unsold articles. I spend a few lakhs of rupees of the organisation for this purpose. The Government of India had also sent a team to Srinagar for the same purpose.

When asked, they said the reason for their annoyance with India was that whatever help was being sent by the Centre through Chief Minister Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed, it never reached the people but was cornered by leaders and bureaucrats.


The Kashmiri people and their families were feeling frustrated and criticised India to express their grievance.

Wherever we went to buy goods from various families, they welcomed us saying that India has sent angels to help Kashmiris in their time of distress. Almost all of them told me that Kashmiris were not at all interested in any link with Pakistan. They wanted an integrated, autonomous state.

After the 1965 war, the Indian Government had never cared to reach out to the Kashmiri masses, but left everything in the hands of Kashmiri leaders and their touts. Now again India is offering a package to Kashmir and it will meet the same fate as before.

What is required is direct interaction with Kashmiri masses and listen to their true problems and desires. The only approach our country has taken is through money and military power.

The need of the hour is to send various commercial and social organisations to establish permanent contacts and dealings with Kashmiri people directly and not through irresponsible politicians and leaders.

K. M. BANSAL, Chandigarh

Helping bright students

This refers to Dr Dharmendra Goel’s letter (May 8) proposing to guide, help and prepare poor bright children for IITs, AIIMS, IIMs, civil services and other fields totally free of cost. The idea is noble and worth pursuing. In these days of high cost of living and consumerism we can enable some good younger brains of poor families to exploit their talent and pay back to society after reaching the pinnacle of glory in their respective spheres.

The Jalandhar unit of the Punjab Scheduled Castes Officers Association has ventured to start a crash course of 40-50 days to impart free coaching to the poor but brilliant students belonging to the weaker sections of society to prepare them for the coming PMT/CET tests. The response of students was overwhelming and we started classes in the library hall of Ambedkar Bhavan, Nakodar Road, Jalandhar. We met the financial requirements for providing infrastructure through voluntary collections not only from Jalandhar but also from Kapurthala, Phagwara, Adampur, Banga, Nawanshahr and Goraya.

G. S. BAL, Jalandhar


Films on Bhagat Singh

This refers to the letter regarding films on Bhagat Singh (May 27). The patriots are golden assets of our nation. We are proud of our Lajpat Rais, Bhagat Singhs and Sarabhas. They are our ever-green heroes and any number of films made on them will still fall short of the magnitude of their supreme sacrifices.

A film project involves money in crores and a decision to launch a venture is only taken when top bosses are fully convinced that there is public demand for a particular subject.

I really don’t understand what message the letter writer was trying to convey. Does he mean we should make more films on Harshad Mehtas and Ravi Sidhus?


(F)lawrence Road

Lawrence Road constitutes the heart of the “City of the Golden Lotus”. And sadly enough, the “heart” has developed many ailments which, if not remedied soon, could lead to a massive heart attack. The main ailments it is suffering from are as follows:

1) The road is punctuated with encroachments and construction material lies scattered on the road inhibiting the traffic flow. Rehris’ and rickshaws can be seen stationed everywhere especially during afternoons when school and college close, it looks as if a flood of humanity has appeared choking the road.

2) The corridors meant for convenience of the general public have been blocked by shopkeepers by extending their counters. Some have even erected fixtures to the utter disappointments of the pedestrians.

3) The trolley carrying debris keep parading on the road till mid-day as if it is a “float” of the Municipal Corporation taking part in the Republic Day parade.

4) Sewers are more often than not in need of “dialysis” and even in the non-rainy season overflow, emitting an obnoxious smell.

5) Parking rules are violated more than observed. The traffic police is more interested in whistling around to make their presence felt than in aiding in the smooth traffic movement.

6) Come evening, three-wheelers fitted with loudspeakers start “barking” at a pitch which could probably be heard across the border, advertising for one product or the other.

7) Beggars are omni-present and on Saturdays’ “Shani-brigades” also join in great numbers.

8) Pockets of rubbish are part and parcel of the Lawrence Road property. A portion in front of an important place like Bhai Vir Singh’s Niwasthan is a glaring example of negligence of the Municipal Corporation.

9) Electricity is no guarantee on this road. It goes and comes at its sweet will. It can part company with you anytime and with no promise of coming back soon.

10) Lawlessness on Lawrence Road is an old phenomenon. “Flaw and disorder” are the trademark of the road.

Let the ‘heads’ of the various agencies/departments think and act over the deteriorating condition of the “heart” of the town before it collapses!

K. J. S. Ahluwalia, Amritsar

Elitist approach

The role of the Press is and should be to report things as they are. Facts however gruesome come first. It is not the role of the Press to take on the duty of communal harmony by highlighting heart warming stories or atrocities to make a point. The national Press in India seems to be following an elitist approach: “We know what is best for you...if we tell you the way things are or how people really feel, you might start taking to the streets”. This is a residue of the colonial past and is no different from the stories in the Pravda of yore and the People’s Daily today.

The piece about the ‘vernacular’ (a disdainful adjective coined by the Brits to refer to things Indian) Press was particularly condescending (April 14). They too have a right to cater to their readership and constituencies as you do. Frankly, many Hindus are sick and tired of hearing about Indians who are ‘ashamed’ to be Hindu\Indian\Gujarati\BJP or whatever.

Gujarat events were inevitable after the Godhra incident. The March, 1993 Mumbai blasts have yet to bring anyone to justice even as Muslim organisations threatened to nominate the accused for elected representative institution. Hindus are routinely massacred in Rajouri\Doda — heard of anyone who said they were ‘ashamed’ because of that?

The Indian national Press is far too fond of cutsey hackneyed headlines like “Sonia flays Atal” etc. Reporters confuse reporting with opinion and only seem to get really upset when one of their ilk gets hurt or killed.

Like it or not, the vernacular Press reflects the prevailing reality — what people hope and fear. The national Press is froth that sits on the top: insubstantial, flighty, self-important and secure in its self-appointed role as a “feel-good” upholder of the national fabric. In short, it is light years behind the standards set by American, European and Asian papers.



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