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Youth join forces just to die?

The Army is fighting the intruders with their hands tied as they cannot take any proactive measures in Pakistan territory. The latest incident in Poonch created a flutter both in Parliament and outside. The Defence Minister in his first off-the-cuff statement in the Parliament said that militants had killed five soldiers belonging to Bihar and Maratha Li regiments. Our Foreign Minister made this incident insignificant by stating that Pakistan had not violated the ceasefire norms. Another minister said that jawans were destined to die or words to that effect. Such statements from poiliticians in power give the impression that they have no love lost for the men fighting for the nation.

Officers and jawans are primarily drawn from the middle class and poor families. The rich, including politicians, do not allow their wards to join the defence services probably because they would be exposed to dangers to their lives. Often government representatives do not attend the last rites of the soldiers who sacrifice their lives in the service of the nation.

Referring to the recent incident in Poonch the government must be ashamed of the fact that a brave soldier's family that lost its lone bread earner had to go hunger strike. What can the nation expect from those in power who can go to the extent of selling coffins meant for the bodies of brave sons of the soil? Even serious and sensitive matters like this are used to draw political mileage.

COL KULDIP SINGH GREWAL (RETD), Formerly member, Services Selection Board, MoD.

Uranium in water

The groundwater in most areas of Bathinda carries uranium contents beyond the permissible limits (of 60 ppb) prescribed by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and WHO (15 ppb). To determine the uranium contents in drinking water, a water testing process was started in the district in the 90s. In 2005 or so, a PIL was filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court and so the matter was discussed at the highest level. But the court has not been able to pass a judgement even when cancer cases are rising by the day.

As per media reports, BARC has performed 1,466 tests for the Bathinda areas, showing the presence of uranium beyond the accepted limits. In one village the uranium content was found to be as high as 644 parts per billion (pbb). Even hand-pumps were banned as uranium was found 50-foot below ground level (bgl). The source of contamination is located at the ground level. The most suspected source is fly ash coming from the thermal plants.

DR G S DHILLON, Chandigarh

The RTI Act

I support the views expressed in the letter 'RTI Act to lose sheen if parties escape' (August 12). It is strange that almost all political parties are joining hands to exclude themselves from the purview of the RTI Act. It exposes their hollow claims to check the menace of corruption that has left the government financially bankrupt. Looking into the effectiveness of the legislation, its sphere was, instead, expected to be extended to the private sector where public interest is involved. Instead of avoiding the Act, they should have rather respected the direction of the CIC. By deciding to keep themselves out of the RTI's purview, they have shown their true colours and that they are no patriots or public servants. Anyway, if the proposed amendment gets through, our democracy would also need to be redefined.


Gatka brothers

This refers to the news item 'Tarn Taran's 'gatka' brothers set Guinness record' (August 6). The efforts of Kawaljit Singh and Gurinder Singh are appreciable. By setting this record, they have brought laurels to India, particularly to Punjabi Sikhs. They need to be honoured by the Punjab government as well as the SGPC so that more youngsters are encouraged to take part in the sport. Lack of facilities and proper coaching hamper the growth of this martial art.


Mosque on illegal land?

IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal cracked down on the powerful sand mining mafia with prodigious courage and dogged determination. She is said to have seized about 300 trolleys carrying illegally mined sand bringing about Rs 54.3 lakh to the UP government's coffers in five months (editorial 'Mining mafia in UP', August 3). Recently, while hearing a PIL petition by a social activist the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court observed that the officer bravely exercised her jurisdiction.

Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, apparently succumbing to the mafia's pressure, suspended her on the pretext of pulling down a wall of an illegally built mosque. Under the Supreme Court orders, no religious structure can be raised on government land.

Once a highly learned Maulvi told me that Islam prohibits the construction of a mosque on an illegally occupied parcel of land. When Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) wanted to build his mosque "Masjid-e-Nabavi" in Medina two boys offered their land gratis. But he paid its price.

Once, some Muslims built a mosque outside the Shah Alam gate in Lahore in one night without permission. The government demolished it. Allama Iqbal satirically said: “Masjid to bana dee shab bhar mein eemaan kee haraarat waalon ney/Man apna puraana paapi hai barson mein namaazi ban na saka.”




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