Two groups of followers of a Dalit sect had a fight on Tuesday on the possible effects of National Register of Citizens (NRC) in West Bengal, resulting in many injuries. This is for first time that the two sects of Matua Mahasangha, a socio-religious body of a predominantly Dalit refugee sect, the Matuas, fought publicly, “tarnishing” the image of the apolitical body, followers said.About 40-45 lakh Matua voters are spread over nearly 50 of the 294 Assembly segments in West Bengal. On Tuesday, one section of the Matuas, headed by the Matua Mahasangha’s chairperson Mamatabala Thakur, convened a meeting in its headquarters at Thakurnagar in North 24 Paraganas, about 70 km north of Kolkata. Ms. Thakur is a former MP of TMC, defeated by her brother-in-law’s son Shantanu Thakur of the BJP in the recent Lok Sabha election.“Our objective was to make people aware of the possible impact of NRC on people who came from Bangladesh. We also invited Muslims,” a disciple close to Ms. Thakur’s faction said. Mr. Thakur’s faction opposed it and campaigned in the area over the last few days against this meeting that was held to “build up resistance against the NRC”.Mr. Thakur’s faction allegedly attacked Ms. Thakur’s meeting, which took “a communal turn” as many Muslims were present. “They started shouting Jai Sri Ram and asked why Muslims are allowed to come inside Thakurbari [the headquarters],” the disciple said. They alleged that their leader Sukriti Ranjan Biswas was also beaten up. The other faction, led by Mr. Thakur, denied the allegation.“They [Ms. Thakur’s faction] held the meeting in the venue even though we were scheduled to hold a meeting there. Moreover, they got Muslims to enter Thakurbari.” said another disciple who is close to Mr. Thakur. He also added that Ms. Thakur’s faction was “spreading false news” about NRC despite BJP president Amit Shah’s statement.“Mr. Shah said that there won’t be any NRC in Bengal and they [Ms. Thakur’s faction] were insisting that the BJP will push people out of the country, so we had to protest,” the disciple said.The scuffle deeply disturbed the followers of the sect and one of the religious chiefs of a group, among the multiple bodies of Matuas, regretted the incident. “Matua Mahasangha was founded on basis of equality to all. We believe that people should not discriminate and fight on basis of religious or political ideology… There should not be a BJP versus TMC division among the Matuas, or else that philosophy is breached,” the chief said.
Test of Cricket “Whom should we thank for the star Indian XI making it to Colombo: the BCCI, the ICC, Ravi Shastri or the corporate bigwigs who make the players dance to their tunes?” SIDHARTH SINGH, on e-mailName of the Game It will be naive to think that cricket is,Test of Cricket”Whom should we thank for the star Indian XI making it to Colombo: the BCCI, the ICC, Ravi Shastri or the corporate bigwigs who make the players dance to their tunes?” SIDHARTH SINGH, on e-mail Name of the GameIt will be naive to think that cricket is still a gentleman’s game (“Cricket Wars”, September 30). Money has killed the nationalistic zeal for which the game was played earlier. The involvement of big money has eroded the spirit of the game. But then again, cricketers cannot be expected to remain in isolation. MOHAMMED TANWEER ALAM, on e-mailCricket is followed like a religion in India. But the fight among the players and cricket boards on the contracts issue has left a bad aftertaste. By playing in the ICC Champions’ Trophy, cricketers have shown that they play for their nations and not for money alone. Now it’s the turn of the boards like the BCCI to safeguard the interests of the players who have already started losing their sponsors. GAREEMA GARG, on e-mailThe article exposed the amount of money involved in cricket. Any business needs a revenue model and in this instance the money ultimately comes from the Indian public. G. VENKATARAMAN, on e-mail”The international recognition of yoga is another instance of India redeeming some of the beauty and greatness of its heritage via the West.” SONIA KAPOOR NoidaWhile it is good to know that at least one sport in India is truly an industry, the fact remains that the players and fans still do not get the best deal. In the mad scramble to accommodate foreign cricket boards and the ICC, the BCCI gets the Indian team to play meaningless matches all over the world, all through the year. The fans remain deprived of matches played on true pitches and against the toughest opposition. It is time the BCCI is looked upon with as much suspicion as politicians in general. PANKAJ GUPTA, on e-mailHistorical VictoryThe supreme court’s ruling that the National Curriculum Framework for Secondary Education is not in violation of the Constitution is a landmark verdict in the history of independent India and a shot in the arm for the NDA Government (“Changing Course”, September 30). Till now education in India had remained the exclusive monopoly in the hands of the timid leftist intellectuals. The nation should feel relieved that they have been shown the exit door by the apex court. Historians like Romila Thapar and Bipan Chandra have done utter injustice to the cause of education by their totally faulty perspective of history and Hinduism. The nation expects the new curriculum to be far more objective, rational and value-oriented. T.S. PATTABHI RAMAN, CoimbatorePeter Pays PaulThe argument that the poor are made to bail out the rich is not based on the fundamentals of economics (“Doleful Survival”, September 30). The dozen-odd business houses listed may be defaulters but it must be remembered that in reality firms consist of ordinary people. Without the bailout policy, thousands would be rendered jobless. Big business is a necessary evil – no one can deny its role in generating output, creating employment, income and assisting the process of capital formation. Bailing out in India merely means the transfer of funds from one “unproductive” kitty to another. Institutions like the IDBI, IFCI and UTI must assume a more active role in overseeing the activities of the firms financed by them. V. VENKATARAMAN, on e-mailPeace PrecedentIt is heartening to note that the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE rebels met in Thailand to find the means to peace in the island nation (“New Beginning”, September 30). A ruined economy and the loss of thousands of lives have been the cost of trouble in Sri Lanka. This is the first positive step towards reconciliation. It is no doubt a good beginning. The talks hold a lesson for India too. We should lose no time in starting a dialogue with Pakistan at some level to defuse tension over Kashmir and take small confidence building measures. There is no other alternative to breaking the deadlock in Indo-Pak relations. D.B.N. MURTHY, on e-mailThe declaration of Anton Balasingham, the chief negotiator of the LTTE, that the Tigers’ demand is for an autonomous homeland for Tamils with equal rights – and not a separate state – has paved the way for further negotiations. Even as talks continue, efforts should be made to rebuild the economy and ensure the return of the war-torn country’s displaced people. India too should give its full cooperation and support for the establishment of peace in Sri Lanka, in spite of the loss of lives of Indian soldiers in the IPKF operations of the 1980s and the LTTE’s role in the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. A.K. THARIEN, Dindigul Anna, Tamil NaduActor Activist Priya Tendulkar became a crusader of much needed public awareness through her natural acting in the TV serial Rajni (“Obituary”, September 30). She taught the general public about its rights as consumers in a very convincing manner. MADHU AGRAWAL, DelhiRight TrackThe story raised a few pertinent questions on railway safety (“How Safe are Fast Trains?”, September 23). There is no denying that safety is an alien word for the Indian Railways. Otherwise, what is the justification for the dependence on hundreds of old bridges? The crux of the problem is that trains are the means of transport for the middle class – and not the upper class which travels by air. Just compare the compensation payable to the next of kin of the deceased in the event of an accident: in case of a plane passenger it is Rs 5 lakh whereas the cost of life of a train traveller is just Rs 15,000. BICHU MUTTATHARA, PuneIt is ridiculous on the part of the Railways to go in for extravaganzas like the creation of new zones and divisions at a time when it has so many weak bridges, outdated signalling systems and old coaches. It requires cost effective financial management which can judiciously decide the areas of priority for investments to improve safety records. DAYANAND RAI, MangaloreThe dreadful accident needs to be condemned and all efforts made to make travelling by train safe but lapses are bound to occur in a vast rail network where superfast trains cover about 50,000 km daily. SATISH SATIJA, on e-mailIt is unfortunate that the world’s second-largest railways is beset with serious problems. The recent Rajdhani disaster has again raised serious doubts about the railway administration’s ability to ensure the safety of passengers. The Central Government too is guilty of inaction. It was two years ago that the Khanna Committee on Railway Safety submitted its report to the government. How far have its recommendations been implemented? It seems the Government will let more accidents occur before taking any action. SANJEEV KUMAR, PatnaSlow DownYour correspondents seem to have overlooked the fact that privatisation for its own sake need not be good (“Dirty War”, September, 23). BPCL and HPCL are reasonably efficient and profit-making PSUs. Selling them would be akin to selling the family silver to overcome financial strain. Giving up stake in profitable undertakings would leave the Government without revenue-generating options. Also, if the case of VSNL’s share price is any indication, the belief that private ownership and control would improve the company need not be true. For all his abilities and honesty Disinvestment Minister Arun Shourie needs to understand that even something which is generally good (which privatisation is) needs to be applied on case-to-case basis. SANDIP KUMAR PITTY, KolkataNew DawnMumbai may be witnessing an increase in the activities of sundry wannabe dons but the city police deserves kudos for its role in checking the operations of the big gangs (“Square Foot Dons”, September 23). The tough attitude of the Mumbai Police has brought the underworld to its knees. What must also be remembered is that it was fear of the police that made the likes of Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Rajan flee India and set up their operations abroad. ALOK JHA, on e-mailUnnecessary Entry”M. Karunanidhi is not a god-fearing man. As such he should not interfere in religious practices.” V. VENKITAKRISHNAN Chennai”In north India too, all Hindu ceremonies are carried out in Sanskrit and not Hindi.” SUBHASH C. AGRAWAL on e-mailCentral QuestionElections will help install a new government in Kashmir and serve to show India’s commitment to democracy and peace in the Valley (“The Vote for Peace”, September 23). Still India should not be ignorant of the fact that Kashmir isn’t just another state. With Pakistan continuing to maintain more than a passing interest in Kashmir, peace will become a possibility only after the two neighbours find a sustainable solution to the vexed questions involving the future of the state. That responsibility lies as much with India as with Pakistan. MANISH TIWARI, AllahabadMatter of FactThe eyecatcher has clearly not represented the facts as conveyed to the correspondent (“Ace of Hearts”, September 23). My son Mahesh Bhupathi told me he had clearly mentioned that there would be a church wedding in Bangalore also. My husband Krishna Bhupathi also mentioned to your Bangalore correspondent there would be two wedding ceremonies in Chennai and Bangalore and that all religions would be represented. We as a family respect and love all religions. MIRA BHUPATHI, Bangaloreadvertisementadvertisementadvertisement