Tamil Nadu's shame

Published : Jul 21, 2001 00:00 IST

Your Cover Story "Tamil Nadu's shame" (July 20, 2001) gives a graphic account of the inhuman acts indulged in by the Tamil Nadu Police while arresting former Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and two Union Ministers. The Jayalalithaa government had no option but to release them soon in the wake of a public outcry. Why the police acted in the manner they did remains a mystery. Were they instructed by the higher-ups to spare no one, however high and old they might be? The video clips telecast by some TV channels brought back to public memory the midnight knocks of the Emergency days. They demonstrated in no uncertain terms the power of the vibrant electronic and print media. They showed to what depths the police had descended while effecting the arrests. This was a shameful act, and the police will never be able to live it down. The least the State government can do is to mete out exemplary punishment to the police officers and others who violated human rights while effecting the arrests.

M. Fathima Beevi, who resigned as Governor, was made a scapegoat for the Jayalalithaa government's fault. It shows how a biased Centre acted in haste against a Governor who was asked to submit a report within an unreasonable deadline. The Centre expected the Governor to make a report suiting its needs so that it could act against Jayalalithaa.

The entire episode has a lesson for Jayalalithaa - that she cannot steamroller her opponents by foisting cases on them. She should now concentrate on toning up the administration and delivering the goods.

D.B.N. Murthy Bangalore* * *

An interesting feature of the arrest episode is the emergence of satellite TV channels as effective publicity media of political parties. Both Sun TV and Jaya TV played well for their respective masters, Karunanidhi's DMK and Jayalalithaa's AIADMK. When regional parties can afford to have exclusive TV channels for political propaganda, it should not be difficult for national parties such as the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress(I) to launch their own TV channels with the same end in view. The channels, if carefully planned, can bring in the funds the parties need, and they need not have to go to the public for funds or ask for government-funding for election campaigns. With companies coming forward to fund the parties by giving advertisement support to their channels, it can also be an effective way of eliminating the stranglehold of black money on politics. Moreover, the parties will have their own forums to present their views "unedited" to the public.

Madhu Agrawal Delhi* * *

The lawless manner in which Karunanidhi and the two Union Ministers were arrested only showed the sadistic attitude of the Jayalalithaa government. Karunanidhi is a respected politician and the inhuman treatment meted out to him rightly sparked protests and condemnation all over the country.

Abhijeet D. More Nashik* * *

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa seems to be in a hurry to achieve her only "goal" on getting the mandate from the people of Tamil Nadu for a second term. Unfortunately for her, this goal has turned out to be a 'self-goal'. In that process she breathed life into a man whose political epitaph had been decisively scripted by the electorate.

The National Democratic Alliance government's decision to recall Governor M. Fathima Beevi is entirely in keeping with its muddle-headed handling of various issues of national importance - the introduction of Vedic Astrology as a subject at the university level, the extension of the ceasefire accord with Naga rebels, the disinvestment of public sector undertakings and so on.

Despite the rejection of Jayalalithaa's nomination papers by the Electoral Officers and the declaration by Union Home Minister L.K. Advani that she would not be called upon to form a government, Fathima Beevi invited her to form the government. She had no alternative left in view of the near-two-thirds majority the AIADMK-led front had won. For Arjun Jaitley, the Law Minister, the Governor's action was a bitter pill. The Jayalalithaa government's post-midnight adventure on June 29 came in handy for the Centre and the Governor was shown the door on July 1. The DMK's support is necessary for the continuance of the NDA government.

Although it was claimed that the Union Cabinet's decision to recall the Governor was based on a report from the Home Ministry team, it was actually done on the recommendations of the NDA's political "fact-finding" team headed by former Defence Minister George Fernandes, who stands discredited by the Tehelka expose. He and his colleague on the panel, V.K. Malhotra, told mediapersons in New Delhi that all the political parties they met in Chennai wanted the imposition of President's Rule on Tamil Nadu. They did not, however, name the parties they met. Now that an account other than the Sun TV's is available on Karunanidhi's arrest and the incidents that followed, one hopes that the fair-minded President will advise the Prime Minister to drop Murasoli Maran and T.R. Baalu from his Cabinet.

M.V. Sundararaman Chennai* * *

Jayalalithaa has defended her government's action in arresting Murasoli Maran and T.R. Baalu on the grounds that they prevented police officers from discharging their duty and that Maran, particularly, attacked a police officer at Karunanidhi's residence. As such there is no difference between criminals forcing their way into a house to rob or molest a woman and police officers breaking into a person's bedroom without any arrest warrant or proper justification to do so. As the latter can only be treated as criminals, the question of preventing them from performing their duty does not arise. A leading forensic science expert has categorically stated that the video clips on the arrest of Karunanidhi released by the Tamil Nadu Police, which showed Maran hitting a police officer, are manipulated ones. Deterrent punishment should be meted out to those who doctored the video.

Jamuna Doss received by e-mail Aruppukottai* * *

The manner in which Karunanidhi and the two Union Ministers were arrested was unprecedented and it shocked all democratic-minded people. There has been a blatant violation of the procedure for arrest laid down by the Supreme Court. However, the way the Centre dealt with the Tamil Nadu fiasco is also not justifiable. Instead of taking action against the Chief Minister, whose government violated the norms regarding arrests, the Centre recommended the recall of the Governor, who was in no way responsible for the situation in the State. The Centre's observation that Governor Fathima Beevi failed to protect the Constitution is not acceptable.

K.A. Solaman AlappuzhaKilling of Dalits

It is shameful that even after 54 years of Independence there is no let-up in the atrocities committed against Dalits ("Castes and killings", July 20). This is going on in many States. But what is equally distressing is the inaction of the governments and parties in power, and their indirect support to the people of the upper castes who commit the crime, as in the case of Uttar Pradesh.

Envy, vested interests, vote bank politics, ignorance, illiteracy, unemployment, economic inequalities and fundamentalism may be some of the reasons for this state of affairs. The existence of caste is a reality. It may not be possible to abolish it simply by enacting laws. In fact, most of the Dalits are tillers of the land, landless labourers or poor daily wage earners. Instead of organising them on the basis of caste, they should be organised as labourers and brought under a single leadership throughout the country. Whether it takes time to eradicate caste differences or not, there should be an end to the atrocities and harmony and peace should be preserved among different castes. This may need persistent efforts such as educating everyone, creating awareness, providing better employment opportunities and enacting land reforms. And governments should implement the relevant laws, punish the guilty early and extend adequate protection to the affected people.

A. Jacob Sahayam Karigiri, Tamil Nadu* * *Targeting history

This is in response to the article "Targeting history" (May 11). That you have brought to the readers' notice this very important and relevant issue is highly commendable. I have a question to put to R.K Dixit. First, he says that the books written by the world-renowned historians are "inconvenient" in terms of maintaining "secularism". I wish to point out to the Head of the Department of Education in Social Sciences that history is not written for convenience or inconvenience. It is meant to be a well-researched and documented collection of facts. And if the maintenance of secularism is the crux of his argument, I would like to ask him as to what is wrong in letting students know the whys and hows of "history" which have given birth to the concept of secularism, so that they learn to respect it better. Secondly, regarding the exclusion of history textbooks because they have not proved themselves good enough to meet the "new" needs of society, I wish to point out to Dixit that history is the only way for humans to learn their lessons as an entire race. As a student of sociology I might point out to him that trying to address the new needs of society without a knowledge of history is like building a 25-storey building without a foundation. In the same context, I cannot resist asking if some parts of history have become irrelevant in today's context, why did Murli Manohar Joshi's party dig up the Ayodhya issue, which is truly "history".

Anandhi received by e-mailState of flux

The massacre of King Birendra and his family members has left indelible marks on Nepal's modern political history (Cover Story, July 6). It happened all of a sudden even as the country's fledgling parliamentary democracy was being attacked from several fronts domestically. The country has, however, passed through this unprecedented tragedy with remarkable calm, keeping its multi-lingual and multi-ethnic society intact. For the last five decades Nepal and the Nepalese are part of the modern world even though the country's prolonged developmental efforts are yet to bear fruit. The mass murder at the palace is a wake-up call to Nepal's political leaders and civil society to take the country further towards prosperity with total national commitment with the help of a more transparent administration.

In order to avoid giving a distorted picture of unfortunate developments such as these, foreign journalists reporting from Nepal need to comprehend the nuances of the society and give a balanced account of the developments rather than pick up gossip and intelligence-inspired reports. They should not attempt to write Nepal's political history in a superficial way without understanding the underlying truth, emotions and sentiments of the people. C.K. Lal's "A society on test" threw some light on how Nepal responded to the tragedy and on what lies ahead. His article is by far the most explicit among the countless articles that have come out on Nepali society and its response to the tragedy. India's response in Nepal's hour of crisis is warmly appreciated. The pinpricks in India-Nepal relations need to be resolved and the differences among the two countries narrowed down. Two years ago, after the hijacking of the Indian Airlines aircraft to Kandahar, the findings of an opinion poll suggested that 90 per cent of Nepalese favoured a clear demarcation of the now porous India-Nepal border and round-the-clock policing and security checks on the border. It is detrimental to the security interests of both countries if the border is left unchecked, particularly at a time when international terrorism is rife.

India should help Nepal in its efforts to speed up its process of development and both could cooperate in harnessing the untapped hydel resources and share power on an equitable basis. India can win the trust of the Nepalese by boosting Indian investments in Nepal. Peace, stability and economic growth in Nepal will bolster India's own security. India should therefore take a multi-track approach to win the confidence of the political leaders of different hues and the public at large.

Rajeev Kumar Pala, KeralaA document of promise

The Third Front has come out with a comprehensive and balanced programme (July 6). It has a clear message that the People's Front wants India to stand on its own and prosper and its citizens to breathe in a free and fearless atmosphere. Of course, there are a few omissions in the programme. For instance, it does not spell out the Front's stand on the reservation of seats for women in Parliament and the State legislatures. And nothing has been mentioned in the programme about the Front's views on issues relating to Jammu and Kashmir and the northeastern States, nuclear policy, environment protection and family planning. Population control is a major issue of immediate importance and needs to be addressed by all the parties and fronts with utmost sincerity.

Shakil Akthar Bhagalpur
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