Friday, March 7, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Challenges before new interlocutor

There is much substance in Hari Jaisingh's observation (Feb 28) that apart from creating a sense of security, the Mufti government must tackle the politico-economic problems of the state which would reduce local support for separatist tendencies. This would also create an atmosphere of normalcy and encourage people from outside the state to go there. Already the proportion of foreign terrorist groups has hugely increased as compared to the home-grown variety. If restoring normalcy becomes a priority, that will completely overshadow the few terrorist acts which will continue — one cannot expect them to end overnight.

The article aptly suggests that militancy should be fought not just at the operational level (that is, through security forces), but equally in the political arena, which means providing the right climate for rehabilitation of militants. Good governance and empathy with local sentiments are necessary to hold out hope to the youth and involve them in the development process. My plea is that the aggrieved families whose kith and kin have been killed or unlawfully detained should be approached. Success at the operational level cannot be achieved without providing a healing touch to the affected people.

Thus the Congress and the PDP will have to acknowledge that it is their immediate responsibility to begin an effort at confidence-building among the people of the state. The coalition government would have to implement a series of measures designed to win back the trust and faith of the alienated Kashmiris in the Indian democratic system as amply stressed by the Tribune Editor. Once such an atmosphere is created, it will be much easier with cooperation of the Hurriyat and other such separatist groups to bring about a cessation hostilities with the militant groups. If such a strategy is adopted, it would render it far easier for India to begin dialogue with Pakistan on the final status of Kashmir, given that its moral authority and political credibility would have been greatly strengthened in the process. At present, dialogue with Pakistan is n't possible. But war, too, is not a solution.



Climate of optimism

Hari Jaisingh is very right that the solution lies in creating a climate of optimism by encouraging economic packages and by a suitable and positively healthy rehabilitation of the militants who wish to join the mainstream. No doubt, the Pakistani rulers’ sick mind is dominated by their one-point obsession with Kashmir through a “hate-India” drive, but we can counter it and keep our youth on this side of the border away from the malicious propaganda only with some definite economic development of the state.

Mere assurances of improvement and appointment of Union ministers and prominent intellectuals to make recommendations and suggestions for normalisation is an illusory attempt at buying temporary peace. You are right that Kashmir needs a bold politico-economic response from the Union Government and not just assurances and political promises.


A refreshing approach

The problem of terrorism in the region, adversely impacting the scarce resources of the nation in its efforts towards becoming an advanced and prosperous land, has been defying an acceptable solution despite a number of measures undertaken at various levels in the past. As the sensitive issue of sovereignty and security of the nation is involved, the path has to be treated with utmost caution, taking sensitivities of the people concerned into consideration. The thoughtful and well-researched article offers a refreshing approach which ought to be taken seriously by all those earnestly interested in the peaceful settlement of the thorny problem.


More aid for J&K

Hari Jaisingh has suggested an “economic package for the people” of Kashmir.

It may be stated that per capita Central assistance to Jammu & Kashmir is the highest in the country, and is 14 times that of Bihar and six times of a state like Assam. What more economic package does J&K want? In fact, all other states are being discriminated against, if we take the figures of Central assistance to J&K. Not only that, The Kashmir valley, which is the epicentre of terrorism, is consuming the share of Jammu and Ladakh also.


Create jobs

In the article Challenges before new interlocutor Hari Jaisingh has rightly emphasised that the situation in the valley of Kashmir is really difficult and has been defying solution, although a number of interlocutors have been appointed from time to time. We have to adopt a vigorous socio-economic programme so that there should be peace in the valley. This means that we have to create jobs for the common people. Only this will go a long way in tackling the problem of militancy in the valley.



Is it a match or war?

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, Union Home Minister L.K. Advani and Congress President Sonia Gandhi were among those who congratulated the Indian team on its victory over Pakistan in a pool ‘A’ match of the World Cup Cricket tournament on March 1.

It is shocking that these dignitaries allowed themselves to be carried away by the victory. There is no tradition of congratulating a team on its victory in a league match. None of these VVIPs sent a congratulatory message to Saurav Ganguli’s squad when it defeated Holland, Zimbabwe and England. So to make an exception in case of Pakistan was certainly in bad taste.

These VVIPs often exhort their countrymen from public platforms to treat a game as a mere game. In fact, the Prime Minister urged sports lovers to exercise restraint in this very tournament when some unpleasant incidents took place in certain parts of the country following India’s defeat at the hands of Australia. Should they not practise what they preach?

The hysteria over Indo-Pak cricket matches, in fact, has already crossed the danger mark in this country. And when VVIP, too, start treating these ties as the country’s prestige issue, the situation can only be expected to get worse.

It is important to note that violence erupted in some parts of India resulting in the death of one person following Pakistan’s defeat. Had India lost the match, the situation, I am sure, must have been worse.

The role of the media in this regard has also been far from exemplary. It has left no stone unturned to treat an Indo-Pak match as nothing less than a war. I am sure it can afford to be responsible and restrained.



Justice Gurnam Singh

I was pained to read in The Tribune (March 1) that some persons have raised a needless issue about the foundation of Guru Nanak Girls College, Model Town, Ludhiana by the late Justice Gurnam Singh, a former Chief Minister of Punjab, in 1970.

I was a political secretary to Justice Gurnam Singh during his second tenure as Chief Minister in 1969 and want to put the record straight. Justice Gurnam Singh initiated various development, educational and cultural projects, including the setting up of Guru Nanak Dev University and Guru Nanak Thermal Plant, Bathinda, to commemorate the fifth birth centenary of Guru Nanak Dev in 1969. The Punjab Government also mooted the idea and assisted in the setting of 22 colleges on the occasion which include Guru Nanak Girls College, Ludhiana. Being in his home district, Gurnam Singh took personal interest in setting up Guru Nanak Girls College. He started the process through some persons closely associated with him who set up a Trust under his direction in September 1969. In 1970 the Punjab Government allotted six acres in Model Town, Ludhiana, for the college while the Punjab Marketing and Agricultural Board donated Rs 5 lakh, a large sum in those days, for the construction of the college building.

Gurnam Singh also got affiliation for the proposed college with Panjab University through Vice-Chancellor Suraj Bhan. The foundation stone of the college was laid by Dr M.S. Randhawa, then Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University and a personal friend of Gurnam Singh. PAU also provided architects to design the college building. In the meantime Gurnam Singh had resigned as Chief Minister of Punjab and became in 1970 the President of the Trust which manages Guru Nanak Girls College today.

The entire process of setting up the college from its concept to providing infrastructure was done by Justice Gurnam Singh, whatever the initial format and technicalities involved. This is well known and recognised by all concerned for the last 33 years. To raise the issue on the very day that the 104 birthday function of Justice Gurnam Singh was held in Guru Nanak Girls College is to denigrate the memory of a great son of Punjab and also disrespectful to the distinguished persons and thousands of persons who participated in the function.



Why ban humour?

The following few lines have been prompted by the incident involving Mr Sanjeet Sinha, PS to the Punjab Chief Minister, and the Jaswinder Bhalla-Balmukand Sharma duo of comedy artistes:

Why apologise, Jaswinder and Bal,

Why ban humour, comedian Jaspal?

Boycott, ban, banish the ‘chamchas’

And their huzoors with bloated ego.

Har shaakh pe ulloo baitha hai,

Anjaame gulistan kya hoga.

Here a Ratra, there a Mukul Joshi,

And still there a Sanjeet Sinha

What a galaxy of scalawags

Leading from the front!

I.S. SALUJA, Chandigarh.

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