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Indians and dogs

Every Independence Day, I am reminded of an incident which happened many years ago. Arriving in Bombay on a late evening flight from Delhi on August 15, 1985, I checked into hotel Holiday Inn, Juhu. I heard a ghazal singer singing by the poolside. I went down and sat on a poolside table to listen to the ghazals. I ordered for whisky and the waiter asked me for my passport. When I enquired what my passport had to do with the whisky, he said: “Today is a dry day. It is our Independence Day and only the foreigners can be served alcohol.”

I asked the waiter: “When did India become independent and from whom?” He looked at me rather surprised and replied: “We got our Independence from the British in 1947.” I replied: “Then we should be enjoying and celebrating our Independence Day.” He could not make out what I was getting at.

When I said, “It’s our Independence Day, but the white man is enjoying.” He replied: “Sir, you are right.” He went back and must have discussed the matter with some higher-up, as I saw a gentleman walk up to me and introduce himself as the general manager of the hotel. He offered to serve me whisky in my room, which I politely denied, saying that I had come down to enjoy the ghazals and could do without whisky. Not one to give up, the GM went back and sent the waiter with a glass of whisky mixed with coke, which I didn’t take. He returned and said that it was against excise rules. I said: “Never mind.”

Surprisingly, soon the waiter brought whisky and soda. I enjoyed my drink and when I asked for the bill, the waiter said: “Sir, it is complimentary from the hotel, we cannot bill you as you are an Indian.”

It reminded me of the pre-1947 notices the English used to put outside clubs: “Indians and dogs not allowed.” I felt very humiliated after all the years of Independence. This incident comes to my mind every 15th of August and I ponder: “Hum tou ghulam hee rahe (we are still slaves). The whites left India, but the Brown Sahibs remain"....along with such outdated rules and regulations.

Mahavir S Jagdev, via email

Partition a mistake

Apropos the middle “With memories of Lahore” by VK Kapoor (August 13), the Partition was the biggest mistake committed by the leaders of the time. The divide-and-rule policy of the British and later inherited by the Congress, was responsible for the mess. Some short-sighted leaders encouraged the divide between Hindus and Muslims to secure their political fortunes. Had they assuaged the wounds, the partition could have been avoided. If Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and other communities could live together, why couldn't the Muslims? Just imagine a bigger India without a permanent and sworn enemy in the form of Pakistan, the Kashmir problem and terrorism. We are paying a price for dividing the country. Kapoor has rightly said: “Lamhon ne khata ki thi, sadion ne saza payee.”

Manjit Singh Gill, Batala

Sikhs suffered most

With reference to the article by Kuldip Nayar “Partition left only refugees” (August 13), one gets the impression that it is only the Hindus and Muslims who suffered.

In fact, the biggest sufferers were the Sikhs, both in terms of numbers killed and property lost. Even the headline ‘Muslims have been the biggest losers’ is incorrect. The massacre of Sikhs and Hindus started long before the Partition in the remote areas of West Pakistan in March, 1947. The Muslims wanted to cleanse that part of Pakistan of non-Muslims. The retaliatory killings in East Punjab started afterwards, though with equal ferocity and intensity.

Ajit Singh Liddar, Mississauga (Canada)

Well done, Pakistan

By quickly handing back the BSF trooper Satyasheel Yadav who had accidentally swept into their territory, Pakistan has shown its diplomatic and humane gesture. Both the governments must find solutions to complicated issues as well, so that millions of rupees being spent by both sides on military upkeep on borders, could be used for the welfare of their people.

ASHOK K. ASHU, Patiala

Don’t shut school

Students and teachers of Modern Senior Secondary School, Patiala, are feeling frustrated and demotivated. The school is on the verge of being razed and a huge shopping mall is coming on the place. This school has been there for around 50 years with thousands of students passing out with high distinctions every year. Now, the management has decided to sell the school to buyers planning a mall. The lives and careers of many students and staff will be affected if theschool closes down.

Bhavan, via email

Gender bias at 60

It has been rightly pointed out by a reader that the Haryana Government allows 50 per cent bus fare concession to senior citizen men above 65 years old and to women above 60 years, which is not fair. I agree with the view. It is unfair and discrimination with senior men. Both men and women are equally entitled to a concession. The government should look into this anomaly and remove it immediately.

Ashutosh Mahna, Karnal

Army non-communal

This is in reference to the letter by Col RD Singh “New Army Chief” (August 2). The letter conveys more than what has been written. Touting General Suhag as the first Army chief from the Jat community gives a communal colour to the august appointment of the Army Chief.

The Army has an apolitical and non-communal set-up. This basic character of the armed forces needs to be reinforced if we are to cast aside the shackles of narrow-mindedness. In line with this thinking, no new caste- or community-based units are being raised.

Further, saying that the General belongs to a community which does not have ‘smooth operators’ or ‘upwardly mobile’ people and that he has achieved this rank on sheer merit, implies that the Army is an organisation which succumbs to the modus operandi of smooth operators or the upwardly mobile. Popular sentiment is that the Army is the last bastion which holds the nation together. The contents of the letter are against the spirit of our Army.

Col RK Sachar, via email

Letters to the Editor, typed in double space, should not exceed the 200-word limit. These should be cogently written and can be sent by e-mail to: Letters@tribuneindia.com



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