Letters

Letters to the Editor — March 3, 2020

Bullet points

Apropos the report “No minority in Bengal will lose citizenship due to CAA: Shah” (March 2), it is unbelievable that pro-CAA BJP workers, carrying party flags, had the gall to shout the goli maro (shoot them) slogan en route to Shaheed Minar grounds in Kolkata, where Home Minister Amit Shah addressed a gathering. Significantly, top officials of the Kolkata Police, who were present at the scene, stood as spectators and the vociferous State Chief Minister, who also holds the home portfolio, went incommunicado. Mr. Shah’s assurance is misleading since a heavily biased Act that grants refuge on the basis of religion adds to an ominous trend to further the BJP’s own political ideology of Hindutva.

S.S. Paul,

Chakdaha, Nadia, West Bengal

Slogans emerging from a political party’s meetings can foretell a thing or two about its ideological trajectory. The recent slogans emanating from the BJP’s rallies do not leave anything to imagination as regards its proximate priorities. If the actions of the regime in Delhi is any indication, it is futile to expect that law enforcement agencies will bring the slogan-mongers to book.

A.Venkatasubramanian,

Tiruchi, Tamil Nadu

It is becoming emphatically clear that India is becoming an increasingly intolerant nation. The BJP does not condemn its rank and file for incendiary speeches and, occasionally, it also felicitates perpetrators — as was the case with the cow vigilantes. In its world view, protests, however peaceful, have no place in India. Though the Home Minister and the Prime Minister are emphatic in their rhetoric that the minorities need not worry about the implementation of the CAA/NRC/NPR, it is common knowledge that the whole exercise is aimed at polarisation, the proof of which is the Delhi riots.

G.B. Sivanandam,

Coimbatore

To put it in journalistic parlance, Union Home Minister Amit Shah sounded the poll bugle in West Bengal. It was clear from his speech that the BJP would use the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) for whatever it is worth to try and wrest power from the Trinamool Congress. It is no surprise as for the BJP, playing the religious card to polarise voters is the name of the game.

It was ominous that the incendiary “goli maaro s***** ko” (shoot the traitors) slogan was raised by frenzied BJP supporters in a mammoth march in Kolkata. The loss of life in Delhi has not stopped them from chanting the slogan. It was jarring to hear “goli maaro” and “Bharat mata ki jai” in the same breath. It is frightening to think how many cities and regions will be converted into theatres of communal violence.

It is India’s misfortune that in Amit Shah, it has a Home Minister who speaks the language of bigotry and hate. It was, however, a climb-down by Mr. Shah that he did not link CAA to NRC or repeat his favourite terminology ‘termites’. In a rally in Kolkata, Amit Shah assured that “no minority will have to leave” the country owing to the CAA. While we must be beholden to him for his ‘generosity’, things are not as easy or simple as made out to be by him.

The true import of the CAA blows away the argument that it does not affect Indian Muslims. The sole question is: why should ‘non-Muslim identity’ be made a criterion for acquisition of citizenship. The CAA determines who refugees are and who illegal immigrants are on the basis of religion, a fact that makes it discriminatory and unconstitutional. If you are of the ‘right religions’ you are granted citizenship, and if you are of the ‘wrong religion’ you are denied citizenship. If this is not religious discrimination, what is it?

“Why only three neighbouring countries?”, “Why only six religious communities?” and “Why only religious persecution?” are legitimate questions that cannot be left unasked. Sri Lankan Tamils, Rohingya, Tibetan refugees, Ahmadiyyas and Shia Hazaras too are humans like those privileged in the CAA. Mr. Shah should read the Constitution to see if anywhere it prescribes religion as a criterion for citizenship before trying to justify the CAA. Let us not do anything that depletes India’s moral strength and compassion.

G. David Milton,

Maruthancode, Kanyakumari-Dt, Tamil Nadu

A deal with the devil

When I was in Kabul as the representative of an international rehabilitation agency some years ago, the guest house I was staying in was right in front of a girls school. After learning about all that the Taliban had denied to the women in Afghanistan, it was wonderful to see girls of all ages flocking to the school chatting and laughing. I shudder to think what will become of that school now that the U.S. has inked an agreement with the Taliban (Editorial “A big, bad deal,” March 2). It is dreadful to think that an organisation which was driven to the fringes of Afghan life for the past two decades has managed to get the gates opened for a fierce re-entry into mainstream Afghan society. Leaving behind the days of periodically launching rockets from the mountains surrounding Kabul and causing havoc on the roads by diabolically planting IEDs, the Taliban can now march into the city unchecked and unopposed. By keeping the elected Afghan government out of the deal, the U.S. has paved the way for the Taliban to quickly overthrow Ashraf Ghani’s regime and reinstall its own brand of medieval administration. It appears that the blood of 3,500 U.S. and ISAF soldiers and that of countless Afghans and others has been shed in vain, now that the Donald Trump administration has struck a deal with the devil himself.

Judah S.G. Vincent,

Chennai

The deal between the U.S. and the Taliban has done more harm than good to the hapless country of Afghanistan. It has legitimised the Taliban and weakened the duly elected Afghan government. The extent to which the U.S. has capitulated is revealed by the title of the agreement, which says that it is between the ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’ (IEA), which is not recognised by the U.S., and the U.S. If the ‘IEA’ is not recognised, what legitimacy is there for the agreement? How can a country say to another entity that we don’t recognise you and yet enter into a deal with that entity. The deal is nothing but a fig leaf for the U.S. to hide its ignominious exit from Afghanistan and its betrayal of Afghans.

Now, the Taliban, which has extracted the best of terms in the deal with the superpower, can easily dictate terms to the Afghan government, if and when the talks are held. The world expected more meaningful and concrete terms in the deal than mere assurances telling that Taliban would severe ties with other terrorist groups. Where is the mechanism to ensure that the Taliban does not renege on its assurances? When a superpower with all its might couldn’t extract a fair deal with the Taliban, nothing great can be expected from the talks to be held, if at all, between a weak Afghan government and a resurgent and now legitimised Taliban. The Afghans would have been better off if the U.S. had just exited without making any deal with the insurgents.

The deal also brings in a new element in international relations as a precedent has been created where a sovereign nation arrived at an agreement with an insurgent group of another nation, thus undermining the sovereignty of the nation to which the insurgents belong. This does not augur well for the future of the countries that are facing such insurgencies/rebellions.

Kosaraju Chandramouli,

Hyderabad

The much-awaited agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban was finally sealed in Doha. But a spectre of instability and prolonged violence now looms larger on the horizon. It may have been billed as a peace deal and would pave the way for a phased withdrawal of 12,000 U.S. soldiers stationed in Afghanistan, but the fears it triggered in its wake about the return of Taliban are genuine and cannot be shrugged off as baseless. Whether or not the present agreement ushers in the promised peace and stability in Afghanistan, it would certainly bolster the re-election chances of U.S. President Donald Trump. With the Taliban taking the centre stage in Afghan landscape, India has every reason to worry about a negative fallout.

M. Jeyaram,

Sholavandan, Tamil Nadu

The Taliban is not a name to conjure peace. It is a dreaded terror outfit that has held both Afghanistan and the U.S. to ransom for over 18 years. It is doubtful if any peace treaty between it and the U.S. would be worth the paper it is written on. After American troops pull out of Afghanistan, the Taliban will be free to take over the Afghan government. It is ironic that the U.S., which invaded Afghanistan to quell terrorism, has simply succumbed to blackmail by the Taliban by signing an ignominious peace treaty. India must see that a resurgent Taliban does not join forces with Pakistan terror networks to foment terror across India’s borders and in Kashmir.

Kangayam R. Narasimhan,

Chennai

The first Prime Minister

Mahesh Rangarajan’s article (“A plural legacy more vital than ever,” March 2) makes the point that Jawaharlal Nehru was seen by Mahatma Gandhi as the man with the ability to scan wider horizons and carry forward his message of unity in diversity. In the mind of Gandhi, Nehru was the quintessential democrat, accommodative of dissent, free from racial prejudices and religious bigotry and completely committed to secular principles. Besides, he was an undisputed man of the masses in 1947 and therefore a natural choice to be the first Prime Minister. Therefore, the vicious misconception doing the rounds that Nehru, in his ambition to become Prime Minister, divided India is a grotesque misrepresentation and travesty of fact. No Prime Minister after Nehru has enjoyed the international stature and acceptability Nehru did in the 1950s; so it is illusory to think that respect for India in the rest of the world has gone up only under Narendra Modi. On the contrary, a spate of questionable actions taken by the government has led to India forfeiting its claims to being a plural, inclusive and secular nation.

R. Ravichandran,

Chennai

A secular democratic India couldn’t have been possible without Nehru’s legacy. That is why Khwaja Ahmad Abbas wrote in his autobiography I Am Not An Island: An Experiment in Autobiography: “When Nehru died, we died — for Nehru was us, the soul and spirit of India. If it was Gandhiji who raised us out of dust, it was Jawaharlal Nehru who gave us life, who gave us courage and the will to struggle for a better tomorrow. And when Nehru died, we died.” But the legacy of Nehru was sullied when his own daughter dragged the nation into Emergency in 1975. The gruesome Turkman Gate massacre during the Emergency and the subsequent destruction of the Shah Commission report were indelible stabs on the democratic legacy of Nehru. The Babri Masjid demolition in 1992, the Gujarat carnage in 2002, the street lynchings India has witnessed since 2014 and the latest communal riot in Delhi are all indicators of India drifting away from the secular democratic legacy of India’s first Prime Minister. And the survival of India depends upon the retrieval of the Nehruvian legacy by the people of the country as no political party is committed to retrieve it.

Sukumaran C.V.,

Palakkad, Kerala

Dominated by the Kiwis

India’s overall performance in the Tests series against the just concluded New Zealand tour hardly justifies its ‘No. 1’ Test ranking. In the four innings India batted, it did not cross 200 runs in three innings, which sums up its weakness against some incisive and accurate pace bowling in seaming conditions. The batsmen looked clueless and amateurish, to say the least. That the second Test ended in two-and-a-half days is a sad commentary on our performance. Virat Kohli looked tentative while Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane just hung around. The newcomers were simply overawed by the occasion. Only in the first innings of the second Test, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah looked impressive. In the second, they were just a shadow of their original self with the New Zealand’s opening pair knocking off the required runs with utmost ease. Bumrah does not look like a wicket-taking bowler any longer. Ishant Sharma, our spearhead in Tests, is injury-prone. Shami is showing signs of rusting. Our pacers were not even half as effective as those of the home team.

V. Lakshmanan,

Tirupur, Tamil Nadu

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Related Topics
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 9:16:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/letters/letters-to-the-editor-march-3-2020/article30965772.ece

Next Story