Letters to the Editor

Print edition : October 18, 1997
Gujral's diplomacy

I.K. Gujral has brought laurels to India through his able diplomacy and his recent trip to the United States (Cover Story, October 17) has been a major success. The portfolio of External Affairs is being handled well by Gujral, although as a Prime Minister he may be seen as weak.

Congratulations to Gujral also on improving India's relations with the United States. This is a welcome step and will benefit the country in the near future.

I should think that Pakistan will keep a low profile after this successful trip of Gujral to the U.S.

S. Lakshmi Narasimha Chamarajanagar, Karnataka

Cricket

This has reference to "Triumph in Toronto" (October 17).

In the Sahara Cup cricket tournament in Toronto, India defeated Pakistan 4-1. In the Independence Cup matches, Pakistan, after losing the first match in Hyderabad, put up a brave display to level the score at 1-1 in Karachi. However, owing to inept batting by Indian frontline batsmen, India messed up things at Lahore.

Also, India had to contend with the hitherto unseen onslaught of Afridi and the pyrotechnics of Ijaz Ahmed on new and inexperienced Indian bowlers on a beauty of a pitch.

Although India lost the decider at Lahore, India's performance in the eight-match series against Pakistan is quite satisfactory. It is to be remembered that India defeated Pakistan 5-3 overall.

One hopes that to ensure success in the home series against Sri Lanka and Australia, selectors will continue to keep faith in the new team, making only a couple of changes to suit Indian conditions.

M. Goutham Prakash Khariwal Bangalore Mother Teresa

This refers to your Cover Story on Mother Teresa (October 3).

I do not believe in God, but I consider Mother Teresa as having been "a God for the poorest of the poor".

In the same issue of Frontline, E.M.S. Namboodiripad suggested in his column that persons with criminal record should be ignored by the party itself at the time of selecting candidates for elections. It is a good democratic solution for the problem of corruption in politics and government.

Each of the political parties must have a mechanism within its organisation to weed out undesirable elements. Such a step should ensure clean administration.

C. Pramod Chennai

Mother Teresa's dedicated service to the poor invites us to keep in mind the plight of the poor, the oppressed, the sick and the downtrodden and inspires us to be of help to them. Are our politicians and religious leaders in a position to continue and fulfil the task that Mother Teresa was doing?

Beno A. Enose Fathimanagar, Tamil Nadu

In the article "For the poorest of the poor" on Mother Teresa, it is noted that Sister Nirmala at her press conference said that poverty alleviation programmes were to be left to the government and that she went on to say: "We want the poor... to accept poverty with the stoicism displayed by the nuns... They should... be content with whatever little that the Lord has given them."

We have high regard for Mother Teresa for the ceaseless service that she so selflessly rendered all her life to the deprived and the infinite love and compassion that she bestowed on all those whom society chose to treat as outcasts.

Yet we should not be so naive as to think that what she was doing was the proper approach to the "intractable problem of poverty". "Mercy" and a little "charity" by the haves cannot relieve the have-nots of their distress.

Mother carried on her work, following the anachronistic path that she chose, in West Bengal without ever being interfered with by the Communist Government of the State, or being enlightened by it to change her simplistic view of poverty.

No economist would ever suggest that if each State and district had a Mother Teresa, the woes of poverty could be eradicated.

K. Kumara Sekhar Eluru, Andhra Pradesh North-eastern turmoil

Praful Bidwai in his column ("Northeastern turmoil", October 3) has highlighted the plight of the region. It is sad to learn that the northeastern region receives less than one-half of one per cent of national investment and that the per capita advances sanctioned by our term-lending institutions to projects in the northeast are less than a tenth of the national average.

The region, particularly Assam, is rich in resources. It has oil, tea, forests, mines, river water for power generation. The Government is implementing no policy to utilise these resources and to develop the region. No wonder that the region is lagging behind the national average in developmental aspect. Terrorist organisations are thriving by exploiting the grievances of the people.

A political solution must be found for the problems faced by the region so that the rule of the gun is checked and development does not suffer.

Dipak Talukdar Nalbari, Assam Ayodhya and BJP

The article "Demolishers in the dock" (October 3) was thought-provoking and unbiased. It has clearly set out the events surrounding the demolition of Babri Masjid and its aftermath.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has been exposed in the Ayodhya episode. It is on the same wavelength with the Congress and the Janata Dal. There is nothing special about the BJP; we don't need the BJP to tell us whom we should worship and to what extent. The propaganda blitz of the BJP is such that even educated people fall for it.

The Special Court's order permitting conspiracy and other charges to be filed against L.K. Advani, Bal Thackeray and other Hindutva leaders is a warning to the BJP and the other fundamentalist organisations.

K.S. Srinivas Bangalore Use of the Army

This has reference to "A case in abeyance" by K. Madhavan (September 19).

Before the Army's help is sought, the competent civil authority must sign a particular form, handing over all the functions exercised by him to the local Army Commander, who would then be the paramount authority.

In a situation where the arrest warrant had been cleared by the higher court in the evening and in view of the announcement by the Bihar Chief Minister that he would be surrendering the next morning, the request made by U.N. Biswas, Joint Director, CBI, appears unreasonable even going by the provisions of the CrPC.

The CrPC cannot override the law and the rules concerning the deployment of the armed forces.

M.M. Bhaskara Menon Kozhikode For action to protect D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Canada-based freelance journalist David B.S. Jeyaraj has been receiving anonymous death threats and warnings to discontinue his writings which are critical of the programmes and policies of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Jeyaraj was targeted in the past for speaking his mind - in 1993 he was physically assaulted by a gang of Tamil youths armed with baseball bats and he sustained grievous injuries as a consequence. Given the fact that his past has been fraught with disturbing and often violent encounters, it would be reasonable to assume that the most recent form of abuse he has been subjected to (intimidation through cryptic calls and death threats) might graduate to a more serious eventuality. Apprehension about his security has been heightened by the sustained ruthlessness of the earlier attacks directed against him, his wife and persons responsible for the sale, subscription and circulation of the publications he edited in the past.

Background information: D.B.S Jeyaraj is of Sri Lankan origin domiciled in Canada since 1990. He is 43 years of age. A former student of St. Thomas College, Mt. Lavinia, Jeyaraj was an important contributor to Sri Lankan newspapers and journals before he went to Canada. He was a correspondent for The Island and wrote the popular column "Behind the Cadjan Curtain". He was also a Mason Fellow at Harvard University School of Journalism during the period 1989-1990. In Canada he has edited several Tamil publications. Some of his weekly newsletters such as Senthamarai and Muncharie enjoyed a wide circulation amongst the Tamil community in Canada. His articles covered both contemporary developments in Sri Lanka and matters of local interest to the expatriate Tamils in Canada. After suspending his involvement in the regular weeklies in the wake of repeated threats and assaults, Jeyaraj embarked on freelance journalism and contributed a weekly column to the Sunday edition of the Colombo-based English newspaper The Island. He also writes for Frontline in India and Tamil Times published from London.

Some of the articles and news written by Jeyaraj on Tamil gang warfare in Toronto have been overtly critical of the role of the LTTE in Sri Lanka and the stranglehold it has on the lives of the Tamils in Sri Lanka. His writings in English catering to a larger cross-section of readership have considerably magnified the focus of the international community on the issue of human rights violations in Sri Lanka.

The consequence of critical journalism: In early 1993 there were efforts to coerce Jeyaraj to desist from his writings and instead toe a pro-LTTE line. When he did not yield, he was assaulted with baseball bats by a gang of Tamil youths outside the Ontario Science Centre. This occurrence (February 1993) caused serious head injuries and a broken leg which left him bed-ridden for several weeks.

Later in 1995 an organised campaign was launched against Jeyaraj to compel him to suspend publication of Muncharie. The efforts included threats over the phone, anonymous letters and leaflets, as also warnings issued to distributors of the newsletter. This was followed on December 7, 1995 by a rampage against retail outlets of Muncharie in West Toronto and Mississauga and actual removal (using force) of copies from some Tamil shops and threats to customers of dire consequences if they purchased the publication. The incident involving armed miscreants left one shopkeeper injured and two vehicles damaged.

On August 20, 1997, the Tamil weekly Muzhakkam (Thunder), published both from Toronto and Ottawa and issued free, carried a column on Jeyaraj illustrated with a cartoon depicting a dog with an injured leg (in obvious reference to the assault which broke his leg). The caption lauded the assault and accosted the persons responsible for not carrying their efforts to its logical end. The caption read: "If a dog loses only a leg it will continue to bark... whatever job undertaken must be completed with perfection..." A week later, on August 25, 1997, another Tamil publication from Toronto carried a piece on Jeyaraj with several crude, derogatory remarks.

Between August 29 and September 13, 1997, Jeyaraj received several abusive and threatening messages over the telephone from male callers using either cellular or unlisted phone services.

Human rights: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes the following articles:

Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of persons.

Article 12: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation.

Article 19: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

The LTTE as a political organisation with aspirations to lead the Sri Lankan Tamil people should respect internationally accepted Human Rights Norms. The International Community is deeply concerned about the flagrant violation of such rights by the LTTE regardless of frontiers.

Recommended action: (i) Express concern over the death threats suffered by Jeyaraj and his family.

(ii) Call for thorough investigations into the threats and for those responsible to be brought to justice.

(iii) Condemn the increasing incidence of unlawful restrictions imposed on free and transparent dissemination of information.

(iv) Write to the LTTE offices in London and Canada expressing concern over the occurrences.

(v) Publicise the case to generate international public opinion and response.

(vi) Request the Canadian Government through higher channels (such as the Prime Minister) to accord protection to D.B.S. Jeyaraj.

Signed Concerned human rights organisations Colombo

A letter from the Editor


Dear reader,

The COVID-19-induced lockdown and the absolute necessity for human beings to maintain a physical distance from one another in order to contain the pandemic has changed our lives in unimaginable ways. The print medium all over the world is no exception.

As the distribution of printed copies is unlikely to resume any time soon, Frontline will come to you only through the digital platform until the return of normality. The resources needed to keep up the good work that Frontline has been doing for the past 35 years and more are immense. It is a long journey indeed. Readers who have been part of this journey are our source of strength.

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Sincerely,

R. Vijaya Sankar

Editor, Frontline

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