Letters to the editor

'Do you mean to say that Umar Khalid and Kanhaiya Kumar are innocent and did nothing?'

A selection of readers' opinions over the past week.

Perils of dissent
I suppose that democracy is good and dissent is bearable (“Heart of the matter: Which dissent is impermissible in a democracy?”). But is it all that society is here for? With everyone having the right to dissent, see what has happened. At this rate, mankind will finish each other off and the whole world will be one mass of dead but unfinished dissent.

India is a classic example of a benevolent state and has a large number of fence-sitters, who can be manipulated. The problem of the Indian state is its perpetually dissatisfied opposition. Rakesh Saran

True nationalism
This is nationalism, and not the pseudo-nationalism being preached by the ruling establishment, which has a few things to learn from Irom Sharmila (“Why Irom Sharmila’s fast holds no meaning for those she’s trying to move”). One should stand up against any wrongs perpetrated by the state, and more so if it involves the killing of innocent people.

Irom Sharmila is a true nationalist unlike the prime minister of the country. Onkar Singh

***

Irom Sharmila wants to get the message across to those who have pledged not to hear her tune and her music of protest. They are ardent advocates of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and of torturing the people. To them, it is the democracy which Sharmila continually attempts to jeopardise. And as such, they have no ears to hear what Sharmila has envisaged for 16 long years. Asok Chattopadhyay

A matter of tolerance
What a ridiculous article by the usually interesting Ajaz Ashraf (“Here is proof India is tolerant: It gives space to Anupam Kher to speak”). It’s tolerance for the minority of disenfranchised freethinkers to listen to the puppets of the powerful majority that also forms the government.

What meaning does tolerance have if it refers to listening to the already dominant point of view? To put it in clearer perspective, is it a testament to Indian tolerance that homosexuals and women still listen to heterosexuals and patriarchal men?

How meaningful is it if the average North Korean citizen “tolerates” the narrative by Kim Jong Un and his friends? I thought the whole point of the concept of tolerance is that its existence can be linked to the weakest voices being heard - unless the concept of tolerance means listening to propaganda. A reader

***

The problem with Anupam Kher and Bharatiya Janata Party supporters is their belief that freedom is sanctioned from the top and it is not universal and all-pervasive.

If their analogy is applied, then freedom is not a fundamental right but a benevolence provided to us by those who protect us from enemies, which means that all civilians are second-grade citizens of India to men in uniform.

BJP supporters have a habit of dragging the army’s name into every issue without any context so as to emotionally blackmail the urban middle class, which itself is the biggest culprit of the armed forces being short-staffed.

They try to overcome this guilt of not sending their children to join the army by this drama of taunting and giving the impression that they care more than other people about soldiers. It’s nothing but crocodile tears.

Anupam Kher also has the habit of unnecessarily taking names. Why did he take the name of Rahul Gandhi in Kolkata? His language, arrogance and angry style of speaking is also deplorable. But he is not alone as all BJP supporters do this.

After Kher came out openly against liberals, I noticed one thing - that all BJP celebrity supporters are intellectually challenged and that is why the BJP has no top-notch celebrity from any field in its stable. Preeti Jindal

***

Do you mean to say that Umar Khalid and Kanhaiya Kumar are innocent and did nothing? It was Umar Khalid who was screaming support for Afzal Guru in the video and Kanhaiya Kumar was the organiser. He was the person who drove the police and cameraman from that place.

Let there be no misunderstanding - you cannot say or do anything under the garb of freedom of speech. There is a fine line.

Support to any terrorist is not acceptable. So it’s better to be with the country and not with the traitors. Shankar Narayanan

Claim to fame
In his own way, Bikram Vohra is right in demanding to know about Kanhaiya Kumar’s credentials to fame. Kumar’s sheer guts, such as telling the prime minister to speak about Hitler, is enough (“Kanhaiya didn’t discover a cure for AIDS, but he’s more special than his critics realise”).

A student and only a student can ask and say this to the most powerful people of this country. His rich and raw sense of humour is lost on people of Vohra’s background. The rustic scholar in the cup of sycophants said things uppermost on people’s minds. Onkar Singh

***

This is a classic case of Kanhaiya Kumar’s supporters being hell-bent on making him a hero, even if it means searching for all kinds of good qualities with the help of a really big magnifying glass. Laxman Rao

Short on substance
I can condone your praise of Kanhaiya Kumar or giving him unsolicited advice (“Dear Kanhaiya Kumar, here’s some unsolicited advice. Regards, Kiran Nagarkar”). What I cannot condone is the fact that you find nothing to criticise about an anti-India protest that was arranged at Jawaharlal Nehru University as well as the shameless speech made by the same person after being released from prison.

One can debate whether the government needed to react in the way it did, but one cannot condone the behaviour of the students.

I think I will treat this as a feeble attempt by an old man to enter the limelight, even at a cost of glorifying unnecessary anti-national behaviour. Prashant Deshpande

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Scroll is compelling us to read such long and boring articles through catchy headlines. Please don’t do that. It is a trap and you will lose readers.It’s still unclear what the article wanted to convey. At best, it seems like it was making a suggestions to support the Congress rather than the Left or the Bharatiya Janata Party. It time and again spoke about the safety of Kanhaiya Kumar, as if the writer is a close relative. The article had no substance and was published merely for the purpose of filling space. Sushant Jha

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Kiran Nagarkar’s letter gives me hope that strong and influential people like him will stand up for the free and democratic country and society we want to live in and leave for our children.

I am honestly stumped by the rabid discourse all around us. It scares me at times. However, I am an optimist and a strong believer in the real patriotic Indian who will definitely stand up when required. Santosh Pillai

Tainted 'hero'
I fail to understand why one should call the “urinating incident” a desperate attempt by some to find faults or “hunt for skeletons” in Kanhaiya Kumar’s closet (“Sly insinuations, leaked photos: A desperate hunt for skeletons in Kanhaiya Kumar’s closet”).

The incident was already in the public domain - the complainant took the matter to its logical conclusion and also posted it on her Facebook page. It’s just that the media decided not to go into Kumar’s past so as to serve its own interests.

It’s unfortunate that well educated youth elected someone who bullied a young female student merely for asking him to behave properly in public. Anil Girotra

Far-fetched claim
I can understand a father’s feelings about his child in such situations. He would obviously never think that his son could do anything wrong (“’Daddy, don’t worry. I didn’t do anything wrong’: JNU student Anirban tells his father”) .

However, it’s far-fetched to say that a young man with positive childhood traits could not have committed the crime with which he is charged. Anil Girotra

Toxic symbols
Symbols have a place during authoritarian rule, be it animals, images, flags, or songs. Even today, enterprises need them for identity and quick recall (“History lesson: How ‘Bharat Mata’ became the code word for a theocratic Hindu state”).

In the earlier days, followers were ready to die for the symbols. But with improving knowledge and the breaking of physical boundaries, these symbols have less and less influence and grip over the thinking mind.

Do we need these symbols at all? Should we judge each other based on our obeisance to such symbols at the cost of genuine brotherhood? VS Chakravarthi

Double standards
I think every Indian should condemn Nivedita Menon for calling India an imperialist nation and illegally occupying parts of the country (“Manufacturing ‘anti-nationals’: Look who’s talking about doctored videos”). It is because of our strong democracy that people like Nivedita Menon are not charged.

Such leftist thinkers have ruined this country. Menon said that nobody has the right to brand people as national or anti-national. The same should apply to thinkers like her as well. Sudarshan Unni

Defining a patriot
I understand the writer’s sentiments (“So you think you’re a patriot?”). I believe that patriotism is not necessarily a feeling or an emotion, but a constructive action.

Patriotism should produce the fruits of benevolent thoughts, edifying words and positive action. India is only as good as its people. Natural resources like ours can be found even in other countries.

As Alexis de Tocqueville put it aptly: “America is great because America is good. The day America ceases to be good, she shall cease to be great.” The same applies to India and Indians as well. Ketan Rindani

Practicing what's preached
I am pleasantly surprised by the all-encompassing thoughts of Narendra Modi (“Spiritual love of Sufism, not terrorism, needs to flow across the border: Narendra Modi”). For the first time, I feel like I have a prime minister I ought to be proud of. After a long interlude, I feel like I can hold my head up high in this great nation of ours. I just hope and pray that his thoughts, so elevating and timely, find root among all Indian nationals, and that the free-flowing and inclusive humanism that you have so nicely elucidated finds a place in the heart of the greater fraternity of this nation.

But for this to be true, words need to be put into practice in reining in the extreme elements of society, who so vitiate the atmosphere with their words and actions.

If only this little directive is carried out in earnest, you can be sure that the minority would provide political support and there would be long overdue recognition of a truly national alternative. Haroon Rashid

Skewed history
I fully endorse your views that the Mughal dynasty founded by Babur in India is overemphasised in history books (“Why putting less Mughal history in school textbooks may be a good idea”) .

Apart from southern and eastern Hindu kingdoms, even in the north, important Hindu kings like Hemchandra Vikramaditya are completely ignored, giving exaggerated importance to Mughals.

The resistance of natives to the Mughals needs to be included in Indian history books appropriately. Sudhir Bhargava

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A different perspective that I never really noticed. I didn’t realise that our history in school was more Mughal. Ashutosh Desai

Animal instinct
The incident only reminds us of the cruelty that average Indians inflict on animals, even those they call domestic animals (“Horse attack sheds light on forgotten fact: Police across India still have mounted units”) . In any other country that “Shining India” folks like to be compared with, this incident would have brought cries of horror from all sides and the culprit would be behind bars.

But not India, where old cows and bulls roam the streets and get beaten, bullocks draw carts and are beaten, and the poor donkeys and mules that draw or carry heavy loads get hardly any sympathy from the rich whose loads they carry – not to mention the dogs and cats of India. CM Naim

Confined hope
Firstly, the writer fails to make her case as to how Shahbaz Taseer’s return is a “ray of hope for Pakistan” (“The return of Salmaan Taseer’s abducted son gives Pakistan another ray of hope”) . It’s not like there was a concerted effort by the state to recover him. In fact he had all but been left to die. It’s his own courage and lots of good luck that got him home. It’s great that Pakistanis got to hear good news, which is a rarity, but it’s confined to Shahbaz’s friends and family, not a ray of hope for Pakistan. Bilal Abbas

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