LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (25/03/2021)

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Defeat Designs Of Naxals

Successive governments have tried their best to control the Naxal menace in Chhattisgarh but the impunity with which the Maoists have struck back is bewildering. They have done it again; at least five jawans of the District Reserve Guard were blown away along with their bus near Narayanpur. The modus operandi of the Naxals in the latest attack is not unknown; they have killed many policemen and politicians using an improvised explosive device (IED). But the authorities’ efforts to prevent such attacks appear to have gone in vain. The anti-Naxal operations have had an upper hand over the Maoists for a considerable period of time in the region. But in the war against the Naxals, the security forces cannot let their guard down even for a minute because the Naxals always have ideas and plans that can outsmart the security personnel. It is an accepted fact that developmental activities of elected governments have unnerved the Naxals, who are consistently perturbed by the setback to their intentions to keep the villages in their areas of domination backward and the villagers subservient. What the Naxals intent is to instil fear in the local tribals and keep them away from the mainstream society. When the state does not let the Naxals succeed in their mission to cripple democracy and play with precious lives, the violent Maoists retaliate. The government’s efforts to take the locals into confidence looks to have yielded mixed results, going by the latest killings, because history has it that no tangible Naxal operation has triumphed without the implicit support of villagers. Long-term strategies to deal with the Maoist menace have to be spruced up in Chhattisgarh. Defeating the enemies of democracy in patches is good but rooting them out should be the top priority of the government.

GANAPATHI BHAT, AKOLA

General Absolution An Option Amid Pandemic

With Easter around the corner, it is time for reconciliation and confession. My personal view is that face-to-face confession should be avoided, as the second wave of COVID is knocking at our doors. It will be well nigh impossible to adhere to social distancing norms and other COVID protocols. The Confessor will be at high risk of contracting the virus with close exposure to so many persons. The penitent too will be at risk, to a lesser extent. It will not be possible to have a coherent dialogue with masks on both sides. Besides, the chair or kneeler will have to be sanitised for every new penitent. I am of the opinion that in COVID hotspots, a half-hour online Reconciliation Service may be held followed by a General Absolution. Presently we do have Spiritual Communion, which was unheard of hitherto. So General Absolution should not be seen as a preposterous idea and may be considered as a viable option during the pandemic. In any case, I do not expect the usual number of people to turn up for confession in church. Hence, reconciliation with General Absolution may be considered for the benefit of others and senior citizens, children and the sick. Besides, there are many who have not made a confession for years or even decades and for them General Absolution will be a real godsend.

ROBERT CASTELLINO, CALANGUTE

Economic Offenders Are Going Scot-free

It has been reported that the total amount of non-performing assets (NPAs) that the public sector banks (PSBs) are incurring for financial year 2020-21 is a whopping Rs 5.77 lakh crore (yes, that is Rs 5.77 trillion)! Why is that economic offenders cannot be brought to book even though they have defaulted in paying back huge sums of money borrowed by them and escaped the punctured dragnet of the legal system? Examples of Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and Lalit Modi (the conveniently forgotten former vice-president of Board of Control for Cricket in India) are stark reminders of people in big businesses who have looted the banks and the country. Banks sanctioned them loans without attaching a proportionate amount of their assets so as to recover the money, which is now bleeding the banks. How many other big businessmen are going to escape the ambit of law? Are they being held accountable, and also the complicit bank top brass, who are enablers in looting of money of the banks and the country? Recently a drug smuggler Kishan Singh has been extradited from the United Kingdom to India to face charges, while economic offenders have been stalling extradition by making use of their ill-gotten gains to postpone the extradition by resorting to legal spin craft, by hiring expert economic offences defence lawyers, who manage to hold at bay their extradition using legal sleight of hand. Will the offenders be forgotten with time or will they face legal action when they reach their old age, only because they can outlast the legal system with their borrowed money? Can the country afford such huge sums of money being lost by banks, which anyway are in serious trouble, with reduced profitability? As West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said not so long ago that India is in the grip of an ‘economic emergency’.

ELVIDIO MIRANDA, PANAJI