Failure  of crowd  control  in  Ratangarh
SIR, It is painful to reflect that stampedes are becoming fairly frequent  in places of pilgrimage and railway platforms. The latest tragedy at Ratangarh temple in Madhya Pradesh illustrates that the authorities ~ whether in Hardwar, Allahabad, Bihar or MP ~ are yet to draw lessons from previous mishaps. A crowd control mechanism is still not in place, let alone basic safety measures. Hundreds of people have been killed in stampedes over the past decade.
Ratangarh witnessed a massive stampede. Lakhs of devotees had congregated at the temple. Reports suggest that in panic, they  leapt into the river that flows below the bridge.  The state governments must formulate guidelines relating to crowd management, put in place an effective public address system, and deploy trained policemen instead of volunteers of religious organisations.
A disaster management team must be present in the town during a religious festival. A scant regard for basics explains the recurrent temple stampedes.
Arrangements at Shirdi Sai Baba Temple and at Tirumala temple  are well organized. So too is the annual Haj pilgrimage.
Yours, etc., Ramesh G Jethwani,
Bangalore, 15 October.
 

AGAINST BUREAUCRAT
SIR,  This refers to the report, “Letter controversy: UP govt suspends senior IAS officer”. The state&’s Principal Secretary, RM Srivastava, has attributed the faux pas to the carelessness of a  junior clerk. He has clarified that “neither has a government order been issued to this effect, nor is it a policy decision.”
The statement appears to be a damage-control exercise on behalf of the UP government. The controversy has created fresh problems for the 17-month-old government, which is smarting in the wake of the Muzaffarnagar riots. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav also holds the Home portfolio.  Mulayam fears an erosion in the Samajwadi Party&’s support base; hence his appeal to the people not to punish him for the mistakes of his party MLAs. The government lost its credibility when it suspended the young IAS officer, Durgashakti Nagpal, at the behest of Mulayam. Raja Bhaiya has been re-inducted into the cabinet to woo the upper caste Thakur votes.
The Principal Secretary claimed that the government had secret information about the VHP&’s Sankalp Divas agenda and its plans on a Ram temple in Ayodhya. “The secret information in the form of intelligence inputs should not have been mentioned in the notice,” he said. However, Mr. Srivastava was unable to give a convincing reply when asked how the words ~ “to frame a law in Parliament” ~ were mentioned in the 9 October letter. It is unlikely that the Home Secretary issued the letter without the knowledge of the Home Minister. Perhaps the UP government wanted to raise the Ram temple issue to take the wind out of the BJP&’s sails. The Samajwadi Party is eyeing the Hindu vote in the 2014 Lok Sabha election.
Whenever a state government is in trouble, it tends to victimize the bureaucrats. The same thing happened in Gujarat, where IPS officers have been jailed, while the main culprit, home minister Amit Shah, Man Friday of Chief Minister Narendra Modi,  is out on bail.
Yours, etc., S S Paul,
Chakdaha (Nadia), 14 October.

NOT BEYOND TOUCH
SIR,  The reported statement of the NCP chief, Sharad Pawar, that there should be no untouchability in politics, is rather intriguing. Does this mean that if the occasion so demands, he and his party will be prepared to do business with  such communal parties as the BJP and the Shiv Sena?
Yours, etc., Vineet Phadtare,
Mumbai, 15 October.
 

DEATH TO LIFE
SIR,  The commutation of the death sentence that had been awarded to Sushil Sharma, a former Youth Congress leader, to life imprisonment (The Statesman, 9 October) has come as a rude shock to common people like us. Thanks to the media, even school children are aware of the heinous crime that he had committed. To cut the body of a woman after killing her and then to burn the parts in an oven of a government-owned hotel ( now privatised) is a barbaric act by any reckoning. This would not have been possible without the connivance of the manager and staff of the hotel.
 The Sessions Court had rightly awarded him death sentence which was confirmed  by the High Court. The brutal murder of Naina Sahni comes in  the  category  of  rarest  of the rare.                                                              
Yours, etc., Somnath Roy,
Kolkata, 13 October              
 

A PHENOMENON
SIR,  Apropos the report, “Tendulkar sets Sayonara date” (11 October), his decision to retire has saddened the world of cricket. He is a phenomenon who has helped Team India  tide over many a crisis. His masterly strokes enabled him to score centuries almost beyond count. A recipient of  a host of awards, his contribution to the game has been acknowledged by cricketers the world over.  He has been suitably rewarded by the government with his nomination to Parliament. I had the opportunity to see him in action in two Tests at the Eden Gardens, and was simply overwhelmed. We look forward to his performance in his last  official match against the West Indies. It is almost impossible to think of Team India  without Sachin. Post-retirement, he will hopefully train budding cricketers. The standard set by him ought to be sustained.
Yours, etc., Jayant Mukherjee,
Kolkata, 15 October.