Print edition : April 10, 1999

India's National Magazine from the publishers of THE HINDU

This has reference to "" (April 9). The article would have us believe that the Congress(I)'s attack on the Government is justified and effective. Why has it not mentioned the following facts?

The Congress(I), which gave a new lease of life to the Rabri Devi Government in Bihar, has lost its credibility after the recent massacre in the State. The party's spokesman has refused to apologise for the support extended to the Rabri Devi Government. The "highly principled" Sonia Gandhi has openly invited Jayalalitha to join forces with her on the Admiral Bhagwat issue. Admiral Bhagwat has made several statements of delusion.

Finance Minister Yeshwant Sinha offered to resign if Mohan Guruswamy could prove his allegation that Sinha took money from some business houses. We are waiting to hear from Mohan Guruswamy. Instead of taking up the challenge, he is out spreading lies about Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee, a person who is respected for his integrity even by his opponents.

Dr. Avinash N. Patkar Cincinnati, Ohio Admiral Bhagwat

This refers to "The Admiral Bhagwat challenge" (April 9). The article says that the Ministry of Defence and the Naval Headquarters are going out of their way to malign the former naval chief. A report in The Pioneer refers to Bhagwat's "capricious behaviour" in transferring a sailor who was on duty at Navy House for a delay in opening the gates for him. It is reported that the angry Admiral got the sailor posted to "the icy heights of Wular Lake". The sailor could return only after Bhagwat's dismissal, but he had by then suffered frostbite, it says. The newspaper carried the sailor's photograph too.

Top officials in Naval Headquarters who pass on classified files to reporters to 'fix' Bhagwat should understand that their actions will affect the Indian Navy. In this instance, they should at least have briefed the reporter that the Wular lake is not at "icy heights" but in the plains of Kashmir.

Sub. Maj. (retd) N. Kunju. Delhi Budget burdens

Thank you for presenting a thorough analysis of the Union Budget (March 26). It is clear that the Budget is not development-oriented. It will only further the cause of liberalisation.

Shoojee Singh Patna Jammu & Kashmir

The Cover Story, "Trouble ahead in Kashmir" (March 26), has been unfair to me. The author has asserted - and without interviewing me - that I belong to that "section of the RSS" which advocates the division of Jammu and Kashmir on "communal lines". He has also asserted that at a seminar in February, I favoured a "formula" that seeks "demilitarisation of and autonomous status for Kashmir for 10 years" and "a plebiscite to determine its future" after the expiry of this period.

These assertions are misleading and groundless and have damaged my reputation. At no point of time was I a member of the RSS. Nor did I ever suggest J&K's division on communal lines. What I have been advocating as a solution to the vexed Kashmir problem since 1990 is the trifurcation of the State into Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh States. I believe that such a reorganisation alone can end the Valley's age-old domination over Jammu and Ladakh, empower the marginalised and grossly ignored Jammuites and Ladakhis to shape and mould their own political and economic destiny themselves in a meaningful manner and enable New Delhi to start parleys with Kashmiri leaders of all shades of opinion to find out what could satisfy them and their constituencies.

As for the resolution of the Kashmir problem, what I said in the seminar needs to be reproduced in order to clear the confusion. I said:

"India and Pakistan have met umpteen times to essay the Kashmir issue, but without achieving any tangible result. They would fail again and again unless one of them is prepared to concede its position on Kashmir. Since Pakistan has made it clear that it will not accept any solution unless it is based on the 1948-49 U.N. resolutions, the responsibility for ensuring peace in the subcontinent has to be shouldered by New Delhi. New Delhi can avert the impending nuclear war and yet demonstrate that J&K was, is and shall ever remain part of India and that its accession to India was lawful and voluntary.

"New Delhi scored a spectacular victory in September 1996, when it stopped dithering and held elections to the J&K Assembly to instal a popularly-elected government. It was a splendid feat. For, the people of J&K participated in that democratic exercise in large numbers ignoring the pro-Pakistani and rabidly communal Hurriyat Conference's boycott call and threats of violence. And, the most remarkable aspect of the situation as it emerged after elections was the recognition all over the world, barring Pakistan, that Kashmiris had nothing to do with the 'two-nation' concept and that they stand for secularism, democracy and modernisation and not Pakistani medievalism and theocracy.

"New Delhi should take another momentous step to controvert the pernicious influence of the Pakistani propaganda that 'India's presence in J&K is against the Kashmiris' will and illegal'. It can do so by telling that the Indians are prepared to hold a plebiscite in J&K strictly according to the UN resolutions to enable the people to decide for themselves whether they want to join India or Pakistan. (The U.N. resolutions, inter alia, require Pakistan to vacate PoK and Northern Territories which have been under its illegal occupation since 1948.)

"India must go ahead and should not flinch. Holding of a plebiscite in J&K after Pakistan vacates the aggression will surely silence the anti-India lobbies, make Islamabad sing in the strain of the swan and facilitate unification of the Pothwari-dominated PoK and the Shia-dominated Northern Territories with this part of J&K. In other words, we will win the plebiscite hands down and this win will be more inspiring than the one we achieved in 1996.

"It may be mentioned that the people of this multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-lingual State, minus a very insignificant minority, are vehemently opposed to the idea of 'Nizam-e-Mustafa' and of J&K merging with Pakistan. These people include 30 lakh Hindus, 14 lakh Gujjar and Bakerwal Muslims, 10 lakh Shias, four lakh Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians and Dard and Balti Muslims and an equal number of Kashmiri Pandits. They constitute 78 per cent of the State's population and inhabit over 95 per cent of the State's land area. As for the Valley Sunnis, who represent the remaining 22 per cent population, they are vertically divided into four groups demanding independence, merger with Pakistan, greater autonomy within India and total integration of J&K with India.

"About PoK and Northern Territories, the less said, the better. It is no secret that the life of the people of these areas has never been one of political and economic aspirations and that the Pakistani establishment has all along considered them worse than brutes. Given an opportunity, they, with a few exceptions, will reject Pakistan outright as they wish to live with the Kashmiris of this side.

"The policy-planners should take into considerations all these factors in the State's political situation and refashion their Kashmir policy. The people of J&K have not and will not let India down. This is a hard reality. Just a few hundred Kashmiris occasionally coming on the streets of Srinagar and raising anti-India slogans under pressure or temptation should not be taken to mean that they represent the general will. These are unfortunate aberrations for which the massively rigged 1987 elections, utter disrespect to genuine political dissent and gross misrule are squarely responsible."

Prof. Hari Om Department of History University of Jammu Jammu

Railway budget

The Railway budget (March 26) would please the common citizen as there is no increase in the second class fare, but he or she would surely feel the inflationary pressure caused by the 4 per cent increase in freight rates. This is particularly true in the case of Kerala, a State that buys from other States most of the commodities it uses.

There will be an increase in the prices of cement, coal and steel as companies mostly rely on the Railways to transport these. It is common knowledge that the Railways lose a lot of revenue owing to ticketless travel. Apart from increasing the fine for ticketless travel the Railway Minister has not taken any effective step to tackle this problem.

S. Raghunatha Prabhu Alappuzha

Correction: In 'Telecom tangle', published in the April 9 issue, the net outstandings of the companies as on March 18 should have been shown as Rs.3,977.41 crores, the net dues payable by basic operators as Rs.939.89 crores, and the bank guarantees of basic operators as Rs.1,595.94 crores. (The grand totals of the three categories were mistakenly given as dues from basic operators.) Also, the company that asked its bank guarantee of Rs.25 crores to be encashed was Essar Commission and not as stated. The errors are regretted.

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.

Subscribing to the online edition, I am confident, will make it mutually beneficial.


R. Vijaya Sankar

Editor, Frontline

Support Quality Journalism
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor