End the delay on mercy pleas
Apropos of “Afzal’s execution hangs heavy over Omar’s head”, the Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah has cautioned that the hanging of Afzal Guru could have long-term implications, as this could be viewed by the people of his state as a selective decision. To prevent any likely feeling of alienation among the people, it is important that the mercy petitions of convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi and Beant Singh assassinations, as well as the attack on the Red Fort, be decided without further delay. Even more, the people will be looking forward to the punishment of the perpetrators of the Delhi gang rape.
—Madhu Agrawal, Delhi
Omar Abdullah’s comments unfair
The Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah’s reaction to the hanging of Afzal Guru is unwarranted. His comments that the execution would reinforce a sense of alienation and injustice among the youth in the Valley and that he would have preferred the death penalty to be commuted to life imprisonment, is not acceptable from a chief minister. Abdullah is aware that all constitutional remedies had been exhausted in Guru’s case. Therefore, his assertion that the Indian government should prove that the death penalty is not being used selectively is obnoxious. To say that Guru should not have been hanged simply because the assassins of Rajiv Gandhi and Beant Singh have not been executed is a lopsided argument.
—Chandramohan, by email
Don’t ignore state terror
Once again, in the melee of voices over the hanging of Afzal Guru, the few voices of reason are getting drowned. The word ‘terrorism’ or ‘terrorist’ itself has been so misused that it has lost its real meaning. There is no doubt that terrorists should be given the harshest punishment, even the death penalty. But we should not ignore state-sponsored terrorism. There are many who have been demanding that the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) be abolished. People in the North-East and Jammu & Kashmir live in fear of the security forces that are supposed to protect them, and simply because AFSPA gives these personnel a free hand with maximum immunity. In the name of national security, human rights are violated everyday, but this is rarely highlighted by the mainstream media. The common man is intelligent, however, the powers that be know how to divert public attention from this to further their own selfish interests.
—Aqeela Khan Kasmani,
Voting is not the same as boozing
The contention that a person is eligible to vote at the age of 18 and also obtains a driving licence at this age, and therefore should be permitted to consume alcohol, is ridiculous to say the least. Voting is the duty of every citizen of the country. Drinking is harmless till there is an accident. Besides, consuming alcohol is harmful to one’s health and starting at an early age could be even more damaging. The recent gang rape in Delhi has shown that a juvenile could behave even worse than an adult. The government should stick to the age limit of 25 and also impose a strict penalty for those violating the rule.
Railways not geared up
The tragedy at Allahabad railway station highlights all over again the absence of crowd management during festivals. India is a land of festivals and every state has a couple of major festivals during the year that attracts lakhs and even millions of pilgrims and tourists. Maharashtra’s 11-day Ganapati festival sees crowds travelling by trains and buses to their villages in the Konkan belt. But the Konkan Railway operates only a few special services, woefully inadequate to meet the demand for seats. The railways must deal with this matter in a systematic manner. Each of the 16 zonal railways, headed by a general manager, runs scores of summer specials during the summer vacations. Obviously, there is spare capacity during the rest of the year. A special general manager should be appointed to oversee and deploy this spare capacity during the festivals to manage the rush.
—Robert Castellino, Mumbai
Lessons not learnt
The selection of the Indian cricket team is a problem every time the selectors have to pick the players, even if it is for a home series. This has been the case again in the selection of the squad that will play against Australia later this month. A not-so-fit Ishant Sharma has been chosen to spearhead the pace attack, while a young and spirited fast bowler is ignored. How Harbhajan Singh has made his way back to the squad is a mystery. He didn’t do well for the Mumbai Indians and has failed in the domestic matches as well. He is probably being accommodated to complete his 100th Test appearance. With both Ashwin and Ojha teaming up well there was no need to have Bhajji in the side. Shikhar Dhavan has been picked in place of Gautam Gambhir to maintain Delhi’s quota. When Rahane fails Gambhir will get his place back automatically. Badrinath will likely be the man to take Sachin Tendulkar’s place in the side and he should be praying that Sachin makes way for him soon. Murali Vijay comes in as a back-up for the injured Virender Sehwag. Fortunately, Ravinder Jadeja was picked for his fitness, although Suresh Raina has not got a place. Overall, it seems that the selectors have not learned the lessons from the recent reverses the team has suffered abroad and at home.