Lingering Kashmir problem

KHUSHWANT SINGH’s aticle, “Kashmir: The last chance” (Saturday Extra, Dec 16) was interesting. During my Army service, I had the opportunity to serve for nearly 10 years in Jammu and Kashmir — a two-year tenure (1947-49) to repulse the attack by tribesmen backed by the Pakistan army; three years (1952-55) in Srinagar when Sheikh Abdullah was arrested and his three colleagues were detained in my unit quarter-guard; and for four years (1965-68), again in Srinagar, as a commander of a paramilitary force which was jointly managed by the Central and state governments.

In all the three assignments, I came in close contact with different sections of society, government officials and ministers.

History tells us that people’s or nations’ aspirations cannot be suppressed forever. It is the right time now to settle the lingering Kashmir imbroglio, which had led to three wars and continuous hostility between India and Pakistan resulting in a huge loss of human life and resources besides causing embitterment amongst the people of the same stock.

One of the options may be to grant semi-autonomy to Kashmir by amending Article 370, make Ladakh a UT and grant statehood to Jammu region.

Brig HARDIT SINGH KAPUR (retd), Chandigarh


Synthesis of reformist and deterrent punishment

I humbly disagree with Humra Quraishi’s views in her article “Compassion can win over people” (Sunday Oped, Nov 4). Every time a death penalty is imposed, a hue and cry is raised about the human rights of the accused and the plight of his family members.

However, has any one considered the human rights of the victims and the miseries of his family members? Even some universities too ignore and just make a passing reference to the study of victimology and lay total stress on the study of criminology as a subject.

The writer, quoting Dr Kiran Bedi, said “hanging is not the solution — rather, the accused should be imprisoned for the remaining years of his life and made to feel remorseful and repentant”. Though life imprisonment means imprisonment for life till death as laid down by the Supreme Court, the law bestows the power to the “appropriate government” to commute such sentence to imprisonment of either description for a term exceeding 14 years. It has been seen that the number of persons undergoing life imprisonment till death can be counted on fingers and in most cases, their sentence is commuted.

Dr Kiran Bedi, in the same television programme, said that 100 per cent of the prisoners come out of the jails as reformed but only those prisoners who undertake the programme set out for their reformation. Then, the question is, how many of them undertake the programme and if at all it is compulsory aren’t we forcing them and abridging their human rights now? The writer has referred that there are hundred other means to put these erring human structures to shame or remorse, but has failed to highlight a few of them.

It is not the Reformative theory of punishment alone but its synthesis with the Deterrent theory of punishment too which is going to fetch us a livable society. It was not Gandhism alone which brought freedom for us. It was also the contribution of extremists like Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev, Udham Singh and other like-minded people who made us see the light of freedom. It is the cumulative effect of both the ideologies that we are living in free India.

With the fast evaporating confidence of the people in the criminal justice system, the need of the hour is, as quoted by Gordon Hewart “… It is of fundamental importance that justice should not only be done but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done.

Dr AMAN A. CHEEMA, Lecturer, University Institute of Laws, PU Regional Centre, Ludhiana


This refers to Khushwant Singh’s “Question of God” (Saturday Extra, Nov 11). The attempt to fathom the divine mystique is as futile as the efforts of the six blind men of Hindoostan of Tennyson’s poem to unfold the identity of an elephant.

Knowledgeable, wise men enunciate guidelines, which gradually take the shape of faiths. After the earthly departure of half-mundane, half-divine Godmen, they are labelled and hallowed with nimbus by their followers. Their sayings are put into texts and read as sermons. The Old Testament is a history of the Hebrews. About 40 years after Christ, nearly 80 Gospels began to circulate. Constantine the Great selected four Gospels, named The New Testament and proscribed the rest. Obsessed Christian conquerors from the Iberian Peninsula invaded Mexico, Peru, decimated the resplendent civilisations of the Natives of South America.

Shri Guru Nanak Dev, in his verses, brought the Vedanta lore within the reach of the commoners. The Ka’aba at Mecca, founded by Father Abraham, with the Haj rituals was ongoing from the pre-Prophet Mohammed era. Without any idea of founding a new religion, he somehow broke through to a new level of conciousness and gifted Islam. Twenty years after the Prophet’s death, a new version of the holy Koran was prepared.

A couple of lines from the Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Coleridge surpass religious sermons, “He prayeth best, who loveth best/All things great and small/For the dear God who loveth us/He made and loveth all”. These lines are the epitome of all faiths. n

V.I.K. SHARMA, Jalandhar




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