Wednesday, November 22, 2017
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kumbh-security-1

ARE WE READY?

There are very few days left for the Mahakumbh now but the pace of work going on in the Mela area and in the city is too unimpressive to create confidence among the people.

Mr S.P.Malaviya, former Union Minister and a senior Congress leader has given December 20 as the deadline for the completion of all Mela-related work and warned that the party will hold protest demonstrations if things are not ready by then. Others too are feeling disappointed if not angry because the men in the field have defied all the deadlines set forth by their officers. This could be annoying the senior officials too. But now it is too late in the day to think of drastic action against the defaulters as they have the potential to cause disruption in work just to spite the administration if not the Akhilesh Government. Those looking after construction works have let us down because either the targeted work is not complete or where it is complete it is alleged to be suffering from the lack of quality standard that was set before us.
But I will come to that later.
Today I wish to talk about the Mela security. The Principal Secretary (Home) and the DGP were both in the city to take a look, among other things, at the security arrangements as well. While every possible precaution is being taken to ensure that terrorists and other undesirable elements do not enter the city or the Mela during the Kumbh period, I want to ask a very pertinent question. How can we be sure that terrorists have not already entered the city? They won’t wait for the eleventh hour to infiltrate into the city, knowing full well that by then security, surveillance and vigilance would be in top gear.
As is well known, terrorists have let loose their sleeping modules in different important cities. They might have entered the city long ago to study the details of the preparations as also for locating the best spots for their operational conspiracies. Where can they be? I may say that they will be present where they are least expected. They could have started working as waiters in different hotels and brought forged recommendations to impress their employers. Now no one suspects a waiter in a hotel. But he keeps an eye on all visitors occupying their room or who come to attend various functions on the hotel premises.

Hypothetical incident in Rotary Club

Let us assume that the Rotary(main) has invited some international figure in town for the Mela to address their club. They meet in a hotel. Now how can we be sure that one of the waiters is not a spy who is keeping record of all events that are to take place? This sleeping-module working as a waiter might look to be a dumb , harmless innocent fellow who has become the favourite of all regular customers as well as passengers who stay in the hotel rooms. Behind his assumed foolish looks might be hiding a top brain planning and scheming their course of action.

The man who is to strike may be just one of the brainwashed, dumb-driven cattle like Kasab. But he will book a room and stay in the hotel looking like a big gun if not a snob, stylishly smoking cigar. The waiter, who by now has acquired the reputation of serving the room inmates very well—taking care of their shoes, polishing them, brushing their suits, shoes, massaging them if required. That way if he remains inside a room, his presence would not be suspected at all. He has already shown that he serves his customers well. It is then that the new Kasab enters the hotel. Code identification between the waiter and the entrant over, the boss in the waiter’s uniform stays with him in the room to fully brief him on their plan of action and how to execute it! He may be seen walking in with a tray, carrying tea and snacks. The ‘genteman’ could be wanting his breakfast in the room as well. Since many people do so, who will suspect the sleeping module when he stays in the room for some time during which he could be fully briefing the visitor on what has to be done?
And then starts the Rotary meeting. When Prof Yogeshwar is showering ton loads of praise on the visiting dignitary, some top scholar or scientist from the USA and thereafter Dr Bajaj is formally welcoming the guest there is sudden darkness. The lights go off. There is a minor blast. ‘Don’t worry, it is just a cracker’, consoles RtnKunwar Saxena. But there is utter confusion. Mrs Vineeta Bahuguna rushes out with Dr Veena Mishra amidst scenes of utter confusion, with Dr Saad Usmani putting on his torch while others use their mobiles to see through the darkness. This was a hypothetical situation. But it could happen anywhere since few people would be suspecting a waiter of being the kingpin of the entire conspiracy.
And then some renovated cinema halls have sprung back to life. What do we know about the ushers? Probably next to nothing! But the spies among them could be keeping an eye on the visitors.
All that I wish to state is that the police should not concentrate its attention on chasing call girls—enjoying their embarrassment if not company-- and their customers in hotels to win sensational headlines in the press. They must try to focus attention on those who are posted in public places. The attendant attached to a lift may prove to be dangerous as well. So too the Safai Karmchari appointed with police verification or verified wrongly a cop planted there by the conspirators.
So my appeal to the authorities concerned is to keep an eye on the possible masquerading gangs. You could find them among sadhus and sants as well. Some of them pose to be paragons of virtue, flaunt their (mugged up) knowledge before others to win the confidence of the masses. Such people can prove to be very, very dangerous.

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And protect the CCTV cameras!

The top administration should also ensure that no one is able to tamper with the CCTV cameras in the mela. Shirkers among workers may like to see them out of order. That may not be possible in the mela area because of strict vigilance but the agents of saboteurs may do that. Incidentally, I would like to recall once again that a year or so ago a CCTV camera was installed at the Johnstonganj crossing. That had caused much embarrassment to the cops taking free rides in tempos because the camera caught them red-handed. So within a few months the CCTV camera became non-functional and the excuse given was that they did not have a qualified man to operate it. They could easily have sent some cops to take the necessary training. But that was not done. Why, I cannot say. Usually such sophisticated cameras come with a safe guarantee period. And this camera went out of order within the guarantee period, many presume. Why wasn’t it replaced? But that is another story.
One hopes that for the Mela period expert cameramen and technicians will be there to run the show. What is more strict vigil will also have to be kept on the cameras so that anyone trying a mischievous game may be caught before he strikes.

Is ‘Mela mismanagement’ a planned conspiracy of Contractors & Babus?


When we are on the threshold of Mahakumbh, there are reports that all work is not complete and some of the work done is not satisfactory at all. Tall claims were made on paper which do not seem to match with ground reality at all. Was the mismanagement also planned by contractors and Babus of different departments concerned so as to create utter confusion, making it impossible for experts to detect immediately what has gone wrong where? Inquiries in depth at a later stage may expose the dirty tricks employed by those engaged in the work. But when all is over, who will trace whom? The real master minds will have hardly left behind any proof to implicate them.
I take you back to the period when the sewer-laying and road repairing work began. Initially there was vigilance. The public were alert too. Wherever sub-standard work was done, the people would raise an outcry and prevent the work from proceeding further till the job was done satisfactorily, in keeping with the quality norms prescribed.
This was apparently too much for the nexus which had planned to make money out of all deals. So all work was started simultaneously on most of the roads. The plea was that the Mahakumbh deadline was to be met. But this was apparently done with the intention of making our roads inaccessible for thorough scrutiny. When inspection won’t be done minutely, who would detect departure from quality work? As we all experienced, it was difficult to move about obn the dug up roads. How could senior officials go out inspecting the work and detecting the fraud?
At that stage we had pleaded that instead of undertaking work on all roads simultaneously, the digging operations should be confined to one road at a time. When work thereon is fully completed, then they should shift to another road. We said this for the convenience of the citizens. But the contractors rejected the plea because they knew that with roads dug-up everywhere, no one will easily come for thorough inspection and certainly not the individual suffering from allergic disorders.

Then arose the matter of delays Many believe that this delay was also a part of the planned conspiracy. The contractors knew that if they go on delaying work and defying all deadlines, the authorities, on the brink of chaos, will request the contractors with folded hands to speed up the work. This is what they wanted because now, if they deliberately take liberty with the quality of work they will pass it on the hurried attempts made to meet the final deadline. Ministers have come and gone, various secretaries of teh UP Government have come and gone buty that hardly mattered for those who weredelaying the work to fish out maximum money advantage from the work.

- Badal congratulated
Mrs Gyan Kumari Ajeet, retired Principal and President Awardee rang me up on Friday morning to express her joy over the elevation of Badal Chatterjee to the IAS grade recently. Badal was her student and so he naturally rang her up to seek her blessings. She blessed him all right but asked him to seek more when he visits Allahabad next. Mrs Ajeet said: ‘He was among those officers who have done some good work for Allahabad. Had he been posted here, the city would have presented an entirely different look. She also recalled how, when he was posted here, he had streamlined the supply system of the cooking gas. She reminded him of this and said, ‘If you were here, we would be sure of getting fair treatment’. She said, ‘I told him that we depend only on cooking gas. There are no old chulhas in the house, no kerosene stove either’. But then, that was said by the way.

Shastri’s policy of non-interference

WHY CAN’T IT PREVAIL TODAY?

Mrs Gyan Kumari Ajeet (retired Principal) once told me an interesting anecdote relating to Lal Bahadur Shastri. I take you back to the days of when he was the State’s Home Minister. Some freedom fighters visited Shastriji. They were young men who had left their jobs during the days of freedom struggle. They expressed a desire to join the police force. In those days there used to be only one IG. And at that time the IG(Police) of UP was the late B.N.Lahiri. Shastriji sent those young men to Mr Lahiri with a request to absorb them in police. B.N.Lahiri had every respect for Lal Bahadur. Hence in order to carry out his instructions Mr Lahiri decided to put those young men to test.

The IG found that they were not up to the mark. How could he allow anyone to raise a finger at Mr Shastri by appointing those men, who might have been very good otherwise, but who were unfit for the job? People would have said, ‘Look, Shastri has sent such recommended men for the police job’. Mr B,N.Lahiri wrote back to Shastriji, regretting his failure to concede to his request, explaining to him his reasons which were very valid. Shastriji accepted Mr Lahiri’s reply in good faith and never did he again broach the subject with him.

Can you expect that from today’s politician ? No. If a bureaucrat were to write back to an MLA of the region that his recommendation could not be accepted on merit and that the man cannot be given the job or extended any other favor against the prevailing rules and norms, , he would be transferred over night.

Who exercised his democratic freedom in a proper manner. B.N.Lahiri or the hypothetical case of an MLA mentioned just now ? Obviously B.N.Lahiri because he combined his democratic right with his bureaucratic duty to advise a senior minister why his wish was not carried out.

We want democracy with discipline because democracy without discipline is no democracy; it is mobocracy. And if we want democracy with discipline we must select such members for MLAs’ elections as have a clean and disciplined record. If that happens then irrespective of whether the candidate is an M.A. our Middle Fail, he will perform his duty as a legislator in a disciplined manner. But if he is also well educated then that will indeed be an asset. No bureaucrat will have any reason to complain that an uneducated MLA was making or marring his fate.

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