Friday, January 21, 2011



I e-mailed the following letter to Ms.Saba Naqvi, Journalist of the "Outlook", on the night of January 21,2011, in response to an E-mailed letter which I had received from her earlier in the evening, which is also reproduced below.Her letter was in response to a letter written by me to the Editor of the "Outlook" drawing his attention to a distortion of my view on some recent alleged incidents of some Hindus taking to anti-Muslim terrorism in an article by her titled "Swami And Friends?" which was carried by the print and online editions of the "Outlook" ( ). My original e-mailed letter to the Editor of "Outlook" is available at I had marked a copy of my letter to Shri Vinod Mehta, Editor of the "Outlook" as well as to Shri Sundeep Dougal, Editor of its online edition. An article titled "Agenda Journalim" written by me after e-mailing my letter to the two Editors is also relevant to this debate. It is available at

2.I am a proud Hindu. At the same time, I have been a strong critic of some aspects of Hinduism and sections of the Hindutva cadre, including the suspected resort to anti-Muslim reprisal terrorism by some members of my community. People who know me well will testify that normally I do not make a prestige issue of small things and am generous in overlooking acts of unkindness by others to me. I did not overlook Ms.Naqvi's action in attributing to me a view which is not mine because I saw it as an attempt by her to use my name in an exercise to project the Hindu community in negative colours. I have a terrible feeling that she rang me up not to get facts or insights, but to use my name in her article in a manner that would project the Hindu community in a bad light.


Dear Ms.Saba Naqvi,

I greatly appreciate your kind courtesy in writing to me.

2.I would appreciate it, if my letter to the Editor, Outlook, is published as written by me with whatever comments you may have.As mentioned in my letter, I did not make the statement which you have attributed to me.My attention to the quote attributed by you to me was drawn by some of my senior journalist friends in Delhi, who have known me for many years.They were taken by surprise by the quote since they knew well my views on the subject about which I have been writing and speaking since the first Malegaon blasts of September 2006.They strongly advised that I should draw attention to the incorrectness of the quote and not let it pass.I did so.

2. I was happy to have spoken to you over phone even though I did not know you because I have always had implicit trust in the journalists of the "Outlook". This was my first interaction with you. I would prefer that this remains the last since it has left a bad taste in my mouth.

3. I am taking the liberty of marking a copy of this to Shri Vinod Mehta, Editor, and Shri Sundeep Dougal, the Editor of the Online edition, who had also carried your article. I am proud to have had a long association with the "Outlook" for over a decade. I have been interviewed off and on by its journalists and its online edition has published many of my articles. I have never complained before during the last 10 years or so because I never had this kind of unhappy experience before.

4. I have always held the "Outlook" and its wonderful team of journalists in very great esteem. This unhappy experience with you will not change that esteem.

5.You are welcome to publish this letter to you too in full, if you so wish.If you decide not to do so, so be it.I will not look reduced in the eyes of people who have known me for years.

Warm regards.



Dear Mr Raman

Your letter has been forwarded to me by Mr Vinod Mehta, editor, Outlook. He has requested me to inform you that if you want the letter to be published we shall do so in next week's issue along with a reply from me.
We are also aware that the letter has been circulated on the internet. As this is the first time I am being accused of misquoting someone I have gone through my notes and really do not find any discrepency that should merit this response. Also you suggest that I have passed of your views as my own along with misquoting you. I recall discussing the fact that Indian Mujahideen was blamed for many incidents now being attributed to so called Hindu groups. You mentioned that the group responsible for the Coimbatore blasts appears to have lost its fire-power. Such routine information has been written as facts in the copy as they indeed are.
Although I remain an admirer of your no nonsense views these are hardly original ideas that I would pilfer from someone else.
Please do let me know if you would like your letter to be published.
All the best
Saba Naqvi
Bureau Chief (Delhi)



It is hoped that good sense will prevail on the leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and they will give up their plans to hold their own flag-hoisting function in the Lal Chowk of Srinagar on the Republic Day on January 26.

2. They, like any other Indian, have a right to hold a flag-hoisting function anywhere in the country where Indian citizens are allowed to hoist the national flag without disturbing public peace. Under certain circumstances, this right, however legitimate, cannot be exercised. For example, when there is a curfew at the place where the flag is proposed to be hoisted.

3.One can understand the BJP's determination to go to Lal Chowk to hoist the flag if the local Government or the Government of India or the nationalist political parties of the State refrain from observing the Republic Day by hoisting the national flag.

4. That is not going to be so. The Governments----the State as well as the Central--- the various national institutions such as the Armed Forces and the central para-military and police forces and the nationalist political parties are going to observe the Republic Day by hoisting the national flag.

5. Only separatist elements, which challenge the unity of India, will not be doing so. The successful holding of the flag-hoisting functions by those mentioned in the previous para would be a fitting reply to the attempt of the separatists to organise a boycott of the Republic Day.

6. Yet one more function by BJP elements from outside the State is not going to add to the sanctity and the nationalist significance of the day. On the contrary, it is going to add to the difficulties of the security forces in maintaining law and order in view of possible attempts by separatist elements to disrupt the BJP's Lal Chowk function. If the BJP wants to help the security forces in maintaining law and order, it should refrain from actions such as holding a function of its own in the Lal Chowk.

7. Moreover, the ground situation in the Valley, which looked so pessimistic till a few months ago due to violence by stone-pelting elements in separatist processions, is showing some positive signs. Such incidents have come down. People are once again going about their normal tasks. There is a greater willingness to join the police instead of boycotting it as was often done in the past.

8. It is not yet normalcy in Srinagar, but a trend towards it. All right-thinking nationalist elements, whether resident in Jammu & Kashmir or outside, have a patriotic responsibility to contribute to a strengthening of this trend in order to convince the separatist elements that the time has come for a re-thinking on their objectives and tactics.

9. The separatists and the instigators of violence from Pakistan will be looking for an opportunity to create a set-back for the nationalist forces in order to revert to the kind of situation that prevailed till some months ago. The security forces are hoping against hope that they will be able to sustain the present trend towards an improvement and that political leaderships will come out with appropriate policies, gestures and actions towards the same end.

10. When almost all other political parties sense the delicate nature of the present situation and are conducting themselves with political maturity and a sense of nationalist responsibility, it is a pity that the BJP alone should conduct itself with unwise political opportunism in utter disregard of the advice and entreaties from others to give up the proposed course of action and should refuse to desist from actions that carry the risk of causing a set-back to the improving trend.

11.It is the bounden duty of all of us outside the State to strengthen the hands of the nationalist elements in the State which have been countering the separatists with great courage. By their unwise obstinacy, the BJP elements could end up be creating a situation that could weaken the hands of the local nationalist elements.

12. It is not the time for the BJP to flaunt its patriotism. All of us are patriots. It is time for it to conduct itself with wisdom and a sense of responsibility. ( 21-1-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. )