Thursday, June 26, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Punjab more peaceful than other states

Mr A.J. Philip has shown concern over caste divide in his article All in the name of Almighty (June 16). In fact, when we compare Punjab with other states, it is far better in matters of caste and communal divide. It was only during 1947 that Punjab lost its communal balance due to the mistake of Akali leader Master Tara Singh, who brought down the Muslim League flag and shouted ‘Pakistan Murdabad’. This infuriated Muslims and what followed is history.

In Punjab, over centuries, Muslim Sufis, Hindu Saints and Sikh Gurus had spoken against caste and communal hatred. Even Christian Missionaries, after annexation of Punjab in 1849, played a positive role in maintaining caste and communal harmony. The Arya Samaj, a revivalist and reformist movement, has had a profound impact on the social life in Punjab.

I blame pettyminded caste-based Akali leaders for what has happened at Talhan, Jats comprise nearly 70 per cent of the total Sikh population. Their dominant role in Sikh affairs should not irk some non-Jats. It would be in the interest of Jats to take along non-Jats with them in social, religious and political matters. Otherwise, they will gradually lose their support in the democratic set up, and be out of power.


Another damaging idea that has entered some Jats’ mind is that they belong to a higher caste. They are from Shudara stock and are declared Backward Caste in Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan, UP etc. Caste arrogance is taboo in Sikhism. Guru Granth (page 1127) says, “Do not be arrogant of your caste. O fool and idiot, from it arises so many social evils”.


Fighting forest fires

The letter What causes forest fires (June 18) casts aspersion on the role of the Home Guards and Civil Defence personnel of the Himachal Government in fighting fires in and around Kasauli forests recently.

Fire crews comprising the H.P. Fire Service and the H.P. Home Guards personnel from Parwanoo and Solan were continuously deployed in the Kasauli area for fighting forest fires from June 1 to 4, 2003 along with the Army and the Air Force personnel. They did a splendid job there and even the Army authorities have appreciated the same.

As far as the Civil Defence is concerned, its office exists only in Shimla, the only civil defence town authorised by the Government of India in Himachal Pradesh.

ANUJ TOMAR, Chief Fire Officer,
Himachal Pradesh, Shimla


Himachal’s leap

The editorial Himachal’s leap (June 18) rightly supports Himachal Pradesh for its laudable effort to send all its 8,000 left-out children in the 6-14 age group to school by next month. The state’s success commands greater admiration when seen in the light of what its better-off neighbours like Haryana and Punjab have achieved, as the editorial rightly points out.

However, the editorial betrays stark ignorance of the ground reality when it says that the state does not have a very “enlightened society” and a “mature political leadership” committed to social development. The fact of the matter is that the hilly state is blessed not only with a perfect civilised society but also reasonably mature political leadership. That is why the state has taken rapid strides on the crucial literacy and educational front, chronic scarcity of financial resources notwithstanding.

TARA CHAND, Ambota (Una)

Worthy of emulation

This has reference to the editorial Empowered by education (June 17) The students who have excelled in the examinations despite difficulties is indeed praiseworthy. In the age of globalisation, more corporate sectors and religious institutions should come forward to help these students. The Tribune should also publish the success stories of the students so that others may follow suit.

M.S. MANN, Kusumpati (Shimla)

Politics of religion

This has reference to a Union Minister’s repeated pleas to the Centre to send a team to Punjab to investigate the anti-corruption drive against his party bosses in the state. One wonders the legitimacy of his claim. Is he trying to be a judge over the judges who, in many cases, have accepted the prima facie version of the investigation agencies?

Corruption has eaten into the vitals of society and this is the gift our politicians have given to people in exchange of the mandate. Politicians have misled the people and the media by crying foul without any basis.

The Shiromani Akali Dal is a religio-political party and everybody knows that it came to power on the religious sentiments of the Sikhs who felt aggrieved by the Centre.

This party, having promised everything under the sun, not only failed to do anything on the political front but also became a partner for power at the Centre, again advancing a plea that by sharing power with the NDA it will be able to settle the political problems of the state. Here too it has miserably failed.

I fail to understand how a party, which is supposed to preserve the altruisic values of Sikhism, can behave like any other political party, thus letting down the brave Sikhs and Punjabis who have remained in the vanguard of India’s freedom struggle.

It is time these self-centered leaders were kept off the politics of the Sikh Panth as the Sikhs have understood their real intentions.

Lt-Col CHANAN SINGH DHILLON (retd), Ludhiana

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