A frivolous statement on Gujarat

Apropos of the editorial “Admission of guilt” (March 10), Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani’s statement that the Gujarat riots were a blot on the National Democratic Alliance was not only belated but also frivolous, as these had been described as an aftermath of the Godhra massacre. A day after his statement, RSS Prachar Pramukh, Mr Srikant Joshi, also said that the Godhra train arson was the root cause of the riots.

The Godhra incident was certainly heart-rending. Yet there was no justification in killing the people who had nothing to do with that holocaust. The bestial violence continued for weeks together. What had Mr Advani, being the Home Minister of the country, done to restore peace in the state?

The Narendra Modi government miserably failed to quell the riots and create a sense of security and confidence among the Muslims. In fact, Mr Modi’s indifference was worse than that shown by the notoriously cruel emperor of Rome, Nero.

Instead of feeling remorse for his failure to prevent the gory developments, Mr Modi took out a “gaurav yatra” and made unpleasant remarks against the Muslims. Had Mr Advani advised him to exercise restraint?




Wooing Muslims, Dalits

It is not surprising if the BJP is wooing the Muslims, the Congress the Dalits and so on. Come election time and every party feels for these people. They are, however, not in the minds of our leaders for a major part of their tenure.

First these leaders create an atmosphere in which people think in terms of minority and majority. Then they exploit the situation to their advantage, but at the expense of peace and harmony among different communities.

The feeling of Indianness is fast disappearing and that of belonging to a particular caste or community is getting stronger and stronger.

In a true democracy, votes should not be sought in the name of Ram or Rahim. But the fact is that we endorse such actions of politicians. Will we ever learn to behave as Indians only?



Forest fires

Come summer and forest fires start erupting. Last year there were repeated fire incidents in and around Kasauli, including a major fire at the Air Force Station, which were fought diligently by defence, forest and Home Guards people.

Since prevention is better than cure, all the concerned agencies must take due precaution and preventive measures. Adequate fire lines should be made in the forests and water stored besides keeping the fire engines and allied equipment in working order.

Since most of the forests in Himachal are full of pine trees, dry pine needles are the major cause of forest fires. Heat generates spontaneous combustion, more so because the pine needles have an oil content. The state government and defence authorities should arrange timely and regular removal of dry pine needles from the forests, make central collection perhaps through a contract system and devise methods to utilise them for revenue generation.

Ignited cigarette butts and match sticks thrown carelessly by people, especially on the dry grass, also lead to major fire incidents. Last year there were rumours that certain young men were playing mischief around the Kasauli hills. There is an urgent need to remain vigilant against mischievous elements and educate the general public without whose cooperation and support no tangible results can be achieved. Whenever there are fires people from all walks of life should not remain mere spectators but become active and involve themselves in helping the government agencies.


DA merger

Central government employees and pensioners hail the merger of DA/DR with their basic pay/pension with effect from April 1, 2004. The Union Finance Ministry has issued the necessary notification.

As per the notification, the merged DA/DR to be treated as dearness pay/dearness pension will be counted for various allowances and retirement benefits.

The Punjab government is urged to issue a DA/DR merger notification on the Central pattern as decided earlier by the state Cabinet.


Business of politics

This refers to the article “Netaji Inc — charge of the family brigade” (Spectrum, February 15). Truly, politics has become a profitable business where investment is low and returns are astonishing. As in a commercial enterprise, the businessman’s son is not worried about his career. Likewise, in politics, sons or daughters of our leaders have a readymade job for them — leadership.

Should this happen in a democracy? In a real democracy, people freely choose their candidates and their representatives truly represent them.


Plan for the disabled

The Unit Trust of India, in pursuant to Section 80 DDA of the Income Tax Act, had from March 1, 1996, launched an open-ended “Special Plan for the Handicapped” under the Childrens’ Gift Growth Fund 1986 (CGGF-86). However, it has surprisingly decided to terminate the same from April 1, 2004.

The termination of the special plan for the handicapped launched in accordance with the provisions of the Income Tax Act under Section 19 of the UTI Act, aimed at providing economic security to the physically challenged, cannot but be considered a cruel joke on them and, therefore, needs reconsideration by the authorities concerned. This is particularly important in the wake of the provisions of CGGF-86 which do not apply in toto to this Plan.


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