Thursday, January 23, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



14 years of forced exile

In his write-up “14 years of forced exile” (Jan 19). Mr Kak has presented a very grim and depressing picture of the exiled Kashmiri Pandit community living in various refugee camps in Jammu, Delhi and other parts of the country. Their sin is that they are secularists, democrats and pluralists, which hardly suits the political culture of any of the major national or regional political party in the country.

The National Human Rights Commission refused to recognise them as Internally Displaced Persons, a categorisation accepted by the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

For many years, the rhetoric of “return and rehabilitation” of the Pandits is orchestrated by the country’s political class and governments of all hues and description but certainly without an iota of sincerity and seriousness or even the historical understanding of the complexity of the issue. To the internally displaced Pandits, neither return/rehabilitation nor feigned reinforcement of the secularist claims is the core issue.

There are two aspects of the issue. The first is instituting a commission of inquiry into the rise of religion-based terrorism and forced exodus of the Pandits from Kashmir in 1990. The second is the formal political empowerment of the Pandits and making them equal partners in the decision-making process. The mechanism for addressing these core issues is concentrated resettlement and restitution of the Pandits in their homeland. The contemplated rehabilitation of about a couple of dozen families envisaged by the policy planners of the new government is eye-wash and is no substitute for hard decisions of far-reaching consequences.


Further, if the PDP-led government has reason to appoint a three-member Cabinet sub-committee to examine the Kuchhai report on the alleged killing of five innocent Kashmiris in connection with the massacre of 35 Sikhs in Chhatisinghpora in March, 2000, then by the same token the Pandits are justified in demanding a commission of inquiry into the killing of nearly a thousand innocent members of their community in the 1990 pogroms and forced exodus of the entire minority community of 300,000 souls.

Dr K.N. PANDITA, Jammu

Trains delayed

Dainik Express (4721/4722) running between Sriganganagar and New Delhi is delayed almost daily due to the linking of the train with the Intercity Express running between Bathinda & New Delhi & between Sriganganagar and Haridwar.

Trains running between Sriganganagar-New Delhi & Srigangangar-Haridwar are linked. The trains that reaches Sriganganagar first in the evening is sent to Haridwar in the morning and the second train to New Delhi. Passengers travelling by Sriganganagar-New Delhi train, especially commuters, do not reach their destinations in time and they have to choose other modes of travel for attending their routine work.

We request the railway authorities to delink these trains and ensure the trains run on time.

CHAMAN BHALLA, 14 others, Bathinda

Telephone directory

In the telephone exchange of Palampur covering Kangra and Chamba districts the telephone directory up to 30.9.2001 is available, while 2003 is in progress. Those who are having their telephones after 30.9.2001 are eagerly awaiting for their turns in the telephone directory. The printing of a new up-to-date directory is absolutely necessary.


Is it constitutional?

Amendments to the existing Acts are prepared by departments in consultation with select committees and are discussed at meetings with Chief Ministers and then referred to parliamentary committees before being presented in Parliament in the form of a Bill. The notification of the amended Act is delayed indefinitely due to one reason or the other. At times these amendments are consigned to wastepaper basket and the process of preparing a fresh Bill is started all over again. What is the constitutional validity of such avoidable actions of politicians and beaurocrats?

Wg Cdr JITINDER SINGH (retd), Chandigarh

Road blockades

Some days ago I and my wife had to travel to Chandigarh by road. The traffic was being diverted at Morinda to Kurali and Mullanpur to reach Chandigarh. That being a single and rough route caused much inconvenience to commuters. Perhaps, this diversion was to stay there for some more days. The public can be easily made aware of such obstructions before hand, but nobody cares to do so.

Regrettably, newspapers and other media also do not consider it worthy to devote a fraction of their print space to publish such information. Instead, countless columns are being wasted on useless information like how cold north India is, which city recorded what temperature in the last how many years etc.

MANJIT INDER SINGH JOHAL, Mandiani village (Ludhiana)

Underage driving

I would like to draw the attention of the public towards the menance of driving of scooters, motor cycles and mopeds by young students, aged 12 or 13. They not only pose a grave threat to their own safety, but also to every road user.

The school authorities should strictly ban the bringing of any scooter/motor cycle by any student to school. The government should encourage the manufacture of mopeds of very low power, say 25 cc or 30 cc, meant specially for students and other young persons. The maximum speed of these mopeds should be only marginally higher than that of a bicycle. There should not be any registration or driving licence required for these low-powered mopeds. These can be called motorised bicycles meant for single riding with no pillion seat.

The central and state governments should seriously consider lowering the age of issuing a driving licence to 16. Many accidents occur largely because an unlicensed young person is tense all the time while driving.

S.C. GUPTA, Rohtak

Banking manners

Recently I had to send two notes to two different local banks pointing out some mistakes in the statements of account received from them. The mistakes were duly corrected, but my notes were returned to me by both the banks without a single word written on them.

There was a time some years ago when in such a case the bank would correct the mistake and also express regret for the inconvenience caused. I imagine these days there is no question of expression of any regret; in fact it seems the banks do not consider it necessary even to write back on the original note that the mistake pointed out has been corrected. Obviously, such small courtesies have no meaning for them.


Of electricity bills

Every month long queues of people, including women and Senior Citizens, can be seen outside different offices of the H.P.S.E.B. jostling to deposit their electricity bills. There is no separate queue for women, who sometimes carry their babies in arms and Senior Citizens, who are unable to withstand the rigours of standing for hours together. Though the facility of deporting the bills by cheques is available, yet it also involves visiting the office twice viz once for putting the cheque in the box and on the second day the bills have to be collected, which is again a cumbersome process.

It is heartening to know that the P.S.E.B. has tied up with post offices in selected towns where people can deposit their electricity bills like the telephone bills. A similar practice can be adopted in Himachal.

Alternatively, under the scheme “Prashan Aap Ke Dwar Par” the H.P.S.E.B. can depute officials to collect the payments at the doorstep of the consumers so that people have the feeling that the government really belongs to them.

A.N. SHARMA, IAS (retd), Shimla

B.Tech certificates

Eight months after passing their 4-year B.Tech (lateral entry) course, students of I.I.T.T. College of Engineering, Kala Amb, are yet to get their certificates. The college authorities blame HP University for the non-issue of the certificate.


Why blame teachers?

This is in response to Atma Ram’s article “What ails education today?”. Teachers alone are not responsible for the poor state of education. As a fresh trained teacher enters school with the nobel spirit, she finds there is a lot of register and mail work. She finds her duty on vote registering, vote evaluation, polling— inside or outside the home state— duty on census etc.

As she comes back to school and takes a breath of relief she finds her duty on the “Sarv Sikhya Abhiyan” for two months. She goes to her officers and expresses her worry about her class. Officers reply: “You are paid for work by the government and do work which is given to you. Don’t bother the class, teaching is not must. These project reports are must. All your students will be passed”. Our evaluation work loses its essence.

Moreover, in the marking halls teachers are made to work for more two hours without any prior information, request and payment. They get frustrated. They are compelled to check about100 papers in five hours, which is totally unjustified. To achieve this goal, obviously teachers will overlook the answers given by students. So the root causes of poor education and problems of teachers must be removed before blaming them.

RASHMI, Faridkot

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