Monday, December 2, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



The mistakes they commit in history

This refers to Mr M. S. N. Menon’s commentary “The mistakes they commit in history” (Nov 22). The author is perhaps right that the partition of the country in 1947 was not based on the “two-nation” theory as is generally made out by most writers. It cannot, however, be denied that religion of the main minority (Muslim) community was the deciding factor in the creation and fixing the boundaries of Pakistan.

The author’s view “that the British objective was to break up India into hundreds of tiny states so that the country would count for nothing” does not appear to be wholly correct. The British planned to use Pakistan in the then ongoing cold war between the West and the erstwhile USSR by leaving a “bone of contention” between India and Pakistan before their departure from the subcontinent by cleverly “designing” the Indian Independence Act. In order to achieve their “ill-conceived objective” of creating a permanent dispute over the Muslim-majority but Hindu-ruled state of Jammu and Kashmir, the district of Gurdaspur was awarded to India in violation of the guidelines for partition of the country by making last-minute changes in the Radcliffe Line to provide a land-link to the state.

The author’s revelation that Mountbatten tried to prevent India from dispatching troops to Srinagar, and that “Had it not been timely intervention of Sardar Patel, who overruled Mountbatten, Srinagar would have fallen to raiders” is rather flabbergasting. The Instrument of Accession was received by New Delhi on October 26, 1947, at the official residence of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru where Sardar Patel and Sheikh Abdullah were already present. It was accepted then and there subject to a plebiscite. Mountbatten had only done his duty of formally accepting the same being Head of the State of India. And our troops (Ist Sikh Regt), who were already “standing by” for the job were airlifted to Srinagar the next morning Oct 27. It was a collective decision of Nehru, Sardar Patel and Sardar Baldev Singh, Defence Minister. During those days, Sardar Patel was the Home Minister and the armed forces would not take orders from him.


If Mountbatten’s interest was to provide “strategic depth to Pakistan” then why did he get last-minute changes made in the India-Pakistan boundary in Punjab? Without Gurdaspur district coming to India, the Hindu ruler of J and K would be left with only two most difficult options — either to accede to Pakistan or to declare independence, which he would not be able to guard.

It would not be right to blame the British for the “Westernisation of our polity”. There would be nothing wrong with it had the appropriate system suitable for the country been adopted. British Prime Minister Clement Attlee, who had suggested the American Presidential System as a model to Indian leaders, was intrigued to note that Indians considered the Westminster system “the only real one for democracies”. It was the biggest blunder of the “founding fathers” of our Constitution, especially Nehru, the most knowledgeable Indian leader who commanded enough public respect to take the country’s polity in any direction he chose. Why did Nehru go in for the parliamentary system needs to be researched and discovered. Could Mr Menon take up the assignment and let the readers know through one of his articles?


Falling interest rates

The way the government is reducing the interest rates on bank deposits, it has become too difficult for retired persons to make both ends meet. The cost of all essentials — food, cloth, water, electricity, LPG, petrol etc-- is rising and the income of retired persons is decreasing drastically. A person who had deposited Rs 4.8 lakh under the monthly income scheme of the post office in 1997 after his retirement, he gets a monthly return of Rs 4,420. Today if he redeposits the same amount, he would get Rs 3,060, provided the government does not reduce the interest rate further tomorrow.

T. D. KUMAR, Panchkula


Army rejoinder

The report "Army division's liquor licence cancelled" (Nov 18) appears to be part of concerted efforts by disgruntled elements to malign the Army in Ferozepur. Ex-Naik Kashmir Singh was issued in advance the quota of three months with that of September 2002 on humanitarian grounds because he had a marriage to celebrate in his family. Still, necessary action has been initiated against the manager of the Golden Arrow Canteen for infringement of the rules.

The Collector & Deputy Commissioner, Excise and Taxation, has cancelled the licence of the canteen. Though motives for such unnecessary persecution can be suspect, the action of the excise authorities has been honoured by the Army and no "raid", as alleged in the report, was conducted in the canteen premises.

Regarding the "supply of liquor in bulk to paramilitary and state Home Guards" (sic), it is clarified that liquor is being issued only to the border wing Home Guards personnel who are serving with the Army.

This is permitted under the rules. However, no liquor is supplied to them in bulk as alleged. The canteen demands less than half the quantity of liquor permitted to be drawn per month.

LIEUT COL ANURAG SHUKLA, HQ, 7 Infantry Division

Journey by KLM

I had booked one seat from Amsterdam to New Delhi for Oct 30, 2002, on flight KLM 871. While going through the check-in, I was asked to wait before being given a boarding pass. Within the next 45 minutes, I reminded the lady at the counter three times that I be allotted a seat in order to board the plane. My seat was booked two and a half months in advance from Chandigarh and duly confirmed with KLM’s London office on 9.10.02 and also at KLM’s counter at Teeside airport, UK, on 28.10.02.

I further observed that all white passengers were being immediately allotted seats at Amsterdam and were promptly boarding the plane. Soon an announcement was made that the plane was full and only 15 Indian passengers and a European lady passenger were left stranded. We all got together and objected to this blatant act of racial discrimination on the part of the KLM staff. They in turn were rude and insulting. One non-white gentleman (who was actually a KLM security employee) falsely posed as a Dutch policeman and threatened us with dire consequences if we did not act as suggested by KLM. There was a lot of commotion as the KLM staff was trying to deviously split the group but we held our ground. They wanted us to wait at Amsterdam airport and catch the next plane to Delhi 24 hours later.

Under protest we accepted 300 Euros each as compensation and were given boarding passes to fly to London (KLM flight 1021) at 4 pm and then to Delhi from London at 10 pm by Virgin airline flight 300. We ultimately landed in Delhi at 11 am on 31.10.02 — 12 hours behind schedule. Most of us missed our onward train and aircraft bookings to other stations which amounted to monetary loss and extra botheration. Relatives who had come to receive us in Delhi also had to undergo a lot of uncertainty and inconvenience. Our luggage had reached Delhi by the earlier KLM flight 871 on 30.10.02 — we spent half a day locating it in the airport warehouse and paid Rs 100 a piece, apart from facing harassment.


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