THIS refers to ‘The right of the reader’ by Stephen Alter (IE, February 19). I agree with the writer that we should not surrender our ideals of free speech in response to the limited, shrill opposition of self-proclaimed protectors of religion. India is a secular country, which has so far managed to maintain and uphold the fundamental rights of its citizens. No one should have the right to dictate what the rest of us can or cannot read. Millions of us still believe in the right of the reader to read, and of the writer to write, no-holds-barred analyses of religion. Hinduism has survived against all odds and has 800 million-plus followers in India — there doesn’t seem to be any need to take away Wendy Doniger’s freedom of speech to protect it. We should feel pleased that a scholar of Doniger’s calibre has devoted herself to ancient Hindu mythology.
— Sanket Ravi Pawar
THE story of the attempted coup of 2012 has been resurrected again (‘Top general speaks: Def Secy summoned me late night, said highest seat of power was worried, troops must go back quickly’, IE, February 21). But the story is silent on a number of points. The first question is, when were the troop movements ordered? Second, who ordered them? Third, was the movement to be reported to the ministry of defence under the protocol laid down? These questions need to be answered.
— T.R. Ramaswami
Terms of life
TAKING advantage of the CrPC and a loophole in the Supreme Court’s verdict, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa resorted to the worst kind of vote-bank politics, announcing the release of all seven convicted for Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination (‘Qualilty of mercy’, IE, February 20). Those convicted for heinous crimes should remain behind bars till their death. In cases where the death penalty is commuted to a life term, the court should clearly mention that “life-term” means imprisonment for the rest of one’s life.
— M.C. Joshi
REGIONALISM has now come to dominate the country’s politics. Partisan sentiments have helped politicians capitalise on issues such as the demand for new states. The call for bifurcating larger states for better administration does sound logical, but similar demands from practically every corner would fragment the country. It is evident that the 29th state is being created purely out of political convenience. Local sentiments were never the compulsion that made the Centre accede to the demands. But it is the politicisation of regional sentiments that is most disturbing. If the MNS is guilty of violently fostering the sons-of-the-soil agenda in Maharashtra, Jayalalithaa, by announcing her decision to free those convicted of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, has
shown how a regionally emotional issue can be politically manipulated.
— Pachu Menon