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October 22, 2001 - October 23, 2001

Letters containing powder create panic in Surat Tuesday, October 23, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
SURAT: The city was under a grip of panic on Saturday after three envelopes containing white powder-like substance, somewhat similar to 'anthrax', was delivered by the postal department to the residence of city mayor Ajay Choksi, corporation Standing Committee chairman Arvind Rana's office and a local BJP leader's house.

The city police swiftly swung into action and immediately despatched the envelopes to the microbiology department of the Government Medical College for examination, said additional commissioner of police Mohan Jha.

Preliminary investigations revealed the letters were posted on October 12 at Navasari with no names of senders on them. What is intriguing is that all the letters took eight days to traverse a distance of around 35 kms till delivery in Surat. And all the letters were addressed to local leaders belonging to a particular political party, said police sources.

Jha told TNN it would be difficult to make any assessment on the nature of the substance found in the envelopes, as only by 2 pm on Sunday some preliminary analysis could be done by the microbiologists. Something concrete could be arrived at only after 48 hours as the substance needs to be cultured to ascertain its biological strains, senior police officials said.

Even though local health authorities had recently claimed to have adequate facilities to tackle any biological outbreak in the city, but sources admitted that even the experts are not adequately equipped to handle such situations.

For better examination, forensic experts' assistance has also been roped-in. Initially they too were reluctant to come forward on the ground of their being ill-equipped to carry out the required test, police sources said.

Highly-placed sources said this could possibly be a case of a statewide mischief.

Following the incident, investigations have been intensified and the co-operation of police from other districts was being sought to find out the involvement of any local hand having vested interests, sources said.

The city police claimed that there was no panic in the city. When asked, senior officials said there was no need of any general guidelines for the people. In case of any suspicion people should seek the assistance of police, sources said.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]


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Initial tests in Surat anthrax scare prove negative Tuesday, October 23, 2001






TIMES NEWS NETWORK

HMEDABAD/SURAT: The mysterious letters received by three BJP leaders in Surat city on Saturday have tested negative in the preliminary examination, and may be sent to New Delhi to identify what it was, said sources.

ALL ABOUT ANTHRAX
   Anthrax FAQ
   Anthrax: Easy to spread, difficult to weaponise
   A closer look at the bug that kills
   Early anthrax detection crucial
   Can we handle bio-terrorism?
   Anthrax attack: Complete coverage
Panic gripped Surat when three envelopes containing some white powder-like substance was delivered by the postal department to the residence of city mayor Ajay Choksi, corporation Standing Committee chairman Arvind Rana's office at Kotsfil Road and a local BJP leader's house at Rander Road.

Sources said three police stations separately investigated the envelopes containing the powder under their jurisdiction. Salabatpura police station, under whose jurisdiction Rana stays, confirmed that the primary tests turned out to be negative. This sample was sent to the New Civil Hospital for examination, sources at the Salabatpura police station told TNN.

The sample of the mysterious powder which Choksi received, was sent to forensic experts at Surat and then was to be forwarded to the Forensic Science Laboratory at Ahmedabad, sources at the Mahidharpura police station said. The third sample which was received by the local BJP leader was under the jurisdiction of Athwa police station. "We are yet to send the sample for testing," sources at the police station told TNN.

Preliminary investigations revealed the letters were posted on October 12 at Navasari with no names of senders on them. What is intriguing is that all the letters took eight days to traverse a distance of around 35 kms till their delivery in Surat.

Even though local health authorities in Surat had recently claimed to have adequate facilities to tackle any biological outbreak in the city, but sources admitted that even the experts are not adequately equipped to handle such situations.

Highly-placed sources said this could possibly be a case of a statewide mischief.

Following the incident, investigations have been intensified by Surat police and the co-operation of police stations of other districts was being sought to find out the involvement of any local hand having vested interests, sources said.

Surat police, however, claimed that there was no panic in the city. When asked, senior officials said there was no need of any general guidelines for the people. In case of any suspicion people should seek the assistance of police, they said.


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Initial tests in Surat anthrax scare prove negative Tuesday, October 23, 2001






TIMES NEWS NETWORK

HMEDABAD/SURAT: The mysterious letters received by three BJP leaders in Surat city on Saturday have tested negative in the preliminary examination, and may be sent to New Delhi to identify what it was, said sources.

ALL ABOUT ANTHRAX
   Anthrax FAQ
   Anthrax: Easy to spread, difficult to weaponise
   A closer look at the bug that kills
   Early anthrax detection crucial
   Can we handle bio-terrorism?
   Anthrax attack: Complete coverage
Panic gripped Surat when three envelopes containing some white powder-like substance was delivered by the postal department to the residence of city mayor Ajay Choksi, corporation Standing Committee chairman Arvind Rana's office at Kotsfil Road and a local BJP leader's house at Rander Road.

Sources said three police stations separately investigated the envelopes containing the powder under their jurisdiction. Salabatpura police station, under whose jurisdiction Rana stays, confirmed that the primary tests turned out to be negative. This sample was sent to the New Civil Hospital for examination, sources at the Salabatpura police station told TNN.

The sample of the mysterious powder which Choksi received, was sent to forensic experts at Surat and then was to be forwarded to the Forensic Science Laboratory at Ahmedabad, sources at the Mahidharpura police station said. The third sample which was received by the local BJP leader was under the jurisdiction of Athwa police station. "We are yet to send the sample for testing," sources at the police station told TNN.

Preliminary investigations revealed the letters were posted on October 12 at Navasari with no names of senders on them. What is intriguing is that all the letters took eight days to traverse a distance of around 35 kms till their delivery in Surat.

Even though local health authorities in Surat had recently claimed to have adequate facilities to tackle any biological outbreak in the city, but sources admitted that even the experts are not adequately equipped to handle such situations.

Highly-placed sources said this could possibly be a case of a statewide mischief.

Following the incident, investigations have been intensified by Surat police and the co-operation of police stations of other districts was being sought to find out the involvement of any local hand having vested interests, sources said.

Surat police, however, claimed that there was no panic in the city. When asked, senior officials said there was no need of any general guidelines for the people. In case of any suspicion people should seek the assistance of police, they said.


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'No place for terrorism in Islam' Monday, October 22, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Coming down heavily on the September 11 attacks on the US, activists from all over the state and other parts of the country conferred on 'Terrorism: Reality and solutions' at a seminar held here on Sunday.

The seminar was organised by the Students Islamic Organisation of India, Gujarat zone, Ahmedabad.

SIO general secretary Zamiruddin Kadri in his presidential address while protesting against the September 11 attacks, however, said that the true motive of the US and its allies who have been attacking Afghanistan to destroy terrorism, will only be known in the future.

Referring to various incidents and facts, he alleged the US to be responsible for the death of over six million people and that it was a wrong notion that the American military action is supported by all. He claimed that some 46 per cent Americans and many other nations are not in favour of it.

SIO Gujarat president Shaukat Ali Indori also joined the protests against the attacks on the US and said the current events have opened up a new dimension for thinking about terrorism, its understanding, international laws, role of the United Nations and our foreign policy.

Speaking on the occasion, director of 'Prashant' Father Cedric Prakash opposed the new law which the Centre was planning to enact in place of TADA, as the one opposing freedom of expression of thoughts and speech. He also talked about culture, terrorism and reality.

President of the Gujarat Lok Samiti Chunibhai Vaidya described violence as an element buried deep within a human being and said that it needs to be removed both from inside and outside. Referring to various incidents, he said he did not agree that the issue was associated only with Muslims.

Senior lawyer and former parliamentarian Haroobhai Mehta described the undesirable events that took place in India, Europe and other countries in the past as terrorism and lambasted the American terrorism.

He criticised the publicity against Islam and said that the massive campaign against Islam was wrong and described Islam as a word that expresses peace and security.

Jamiet-Ehle-Hadis president Maulana Abdul Halim Salfi said that there was no place for terrorism in Islam and there is no compulsion in Islam as a religion. He said all human beings are children of the same parents.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]


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No criminal case yet in City Gold mishap Monday, October 22, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: While the Bhatt family battles with the grief of losing their baby, the City Gold cine-multiplex authorities have admitted in a public clarification on Sunday that the lid of the underground sump was "not properly closed by the maintenance staff".

Cine-multiplex director Chiman Agrawal stated in a published advertisement given to certain newspapers that the "version published in the papers about the accident (on Friday) was far from truth".

The reference is to the death of 13-month-old Agastya Bhatt who died after falling into the 10-foot-deep water sump on the multiplex premises. Apparently, the mother of the boy, Viraj, too had slipped into the tank, but was rescued by a passer-by even as her son slipped out of her hands.

The Navrangpura police have not gone beyond making an entry in the station diary about the case. "A case can be registered only after preliminary inquiries," a police official told TNN on Sunday.

Chiman Agrawal also admitted that Viraj to was hurt in the process of saving herself and her son. Viraj is learnt to have suffered bruises on her arms and back.

When contacted, Agastya's grandfather Niranjan Bhatt told TNN, that "Agrawal came to see us and tendered an apology in writing on Saturday". According to him, the family was in a state of deep shock since "Agastya was born after a difficult pregnancy. At present, we are not even thinking about complaining to the police, since it would add to the trauma of my daughter-in-law".

The family used to take Agastya out in the evening, City Gold multiplex and was scheduled for Friday. Viraj set out for the complex with her son and the 'ayah' to show him the coloured fountains. "While holding Agastya, Viraj walked up in the normal course. Her foot fell on the tank and the lid gave way, plunging both of them into the water," Bhatt said.

Viraj, who could swim, managed to rise to the surface while her son just slipped out of her arms, said the grandfather. In the darkness, she could not see anything, and by the time the fire brigade arrived it was already 20 minutes.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]


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