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October 3, 2001 - October 3, 2001

I won’t join Modi's ministry, says Suresh Mehta Wednesday, October 3, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: Industries minister Suresh Mehta delivered a jolt to the BJP leadership’s plan to impose Narendra Modi as chief minister, when he declared here on Tuesday that he would not join the new ministry because Modi was ‘‘too junior’’.

Speaking to reporters at his residence here, Mehta said: ‘‘Working under Keshubhai is one thing. He is senior to me. I worked under Keshubhai during 1995-96. After the Shankersinh Vaghela rebellion, I was made the CM. When Keshubhai again became CM in 1998, I rejoined him because he was already my senior.’’

Well-placed ministerial sources confirmed that Mehta had told the party central leadership about his reservations of working under Modi.

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

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Modi's style worries Gujarat BJP leaders Wednesday, October 3, 2001

AHMEDABAD: If Narendra Modi does become the chief minister, it will be the "mother of all comebacks" for a man who has no previous administrative experience and has lived the last four years as a political outcast in Gujarat. Not surprisingly, many in the ruling BJP, who kept a safe distance from him all these years, harbour a lot of misgivings about his return to his home state.

In fact, it was Modi's abrasive style of functioning which had led to the rebellion by Shankersinh Vaghela splitting the BJP in the mid-90s and costing Keshubhai Patel his first job as CM.

Modi earned the sobriquet of "Super CM" when Keshubhai first became CM in 1995. He was the power behind the throne and many saw Keshubhai as just the figurehead. Keshubhai blamed Modi for all his problems and, when he became CM for the second time, he made it clear to the central leadership that Gujarat should be declared out of bounds for Modi.

Modi has since spent most of his time in New Delhi, making only an occasional visit to Gujarat, where even his close allies avoided him out of fear of incurring the CM's wrath. Life seems to have turned a full circle for Modi as the beleaguered BJP, which has banished him from Gujarat for the last four years, now looks up to him again for deliverance. And this has sent the panic bells ringing in many quarters, most of all loyalists of Keshubhai.

However, jails minister Jaspal Singh, one of the most vocal critics of Keshubhai says: "This is the best thing that could have happened to the BJP in Gujarat. The BJP workers who were demoralised finally have something to look forward to."

Singh says the people's perception of the BJP government as a non-performing and corrupt government, which had led to the recent byelection debacle, has to change if it has to win the assembly elections due in March 2003.

But not all in the BJP would agree with Singh. They would concede that Modi is exceptional when it comes to organisational skills, but he has the reputation of being a no-nonsense man with strong likes and dislikes who would not be able to take all the factions together.

A Keshubhai loyalist, who refused to be identified, said: "If Modi comes, he will come with a whole baggage of prejudices because of his deliberate isolation from Gujarat which would led to a lot of bad blood in the party."

Besides, Keshubhai loyalists argue that what was needed at this hour is a strong administrator who can provide good governance to refurbish the BJP's image. Modi has not held any government post and has no claim to fame as an administrator. "If at all he had to be given a role in Gujarat, it could have been done at the organisational level," said a senior minister.

The minister drew a parallel between Modi and Ram Prakash Gupta, whose tenure as CM of Uttar Pradesh was short-lived because of his administrative inexperience and had to be replaced by Rajnath Singh. Modi's reputation as a rabid proponent of Hindutva, the Keshubhai loyalists say, would also prove counter-productive at a time when the BJP under the leadership of Vajpayee is shedding the communal tag.

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

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11 SIMI activists held in city Wednesday, October 3, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Eleven activists of the Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), including Asif Mustafa Husain Shaikh, who is reportedly the city unit president, were arrested on Sunday morning for staging a demonstration at Ahmad Shah mosque near Victoria garden.

Those arrested include four activists from Surat, one from Anand and the rest from Ahmedabad, deputy commissioner of police (zone II) SP Rajkumar told TNN.

The activists were protesting against US's campaign against Osama bin Laden, and the ban on SIMI around noon at the old mosque. They were also raising slogans celebrating SIMI, police sources said.

Meanwhile, Shahpur police seized some documents and a hard disc from Classic Offset, in Noor Complex, on Saturday. This is where SIMI published its material. The police are now getting the material translated since it is all in Urdu. When the police raided the press, its owner, Yasin Patel, had already slip away.

Incidentally, some materials had references to the Taliban and the destruction of the amiyan Buddha, "but we have yet to confirm whether these are provocative and inflammatory", a senior police official said.

Asif Shaikh, who is based in Dariapur, is already booked for five other cases at the Jamalpur, Karanj and Shahpur police stations.

Besides Shaikh, the demonstrators arrested include Javed Akhtar Shaikh (Surat), Mohammad Iqbal Jamalbhai , Mohammad Salim (Surat), Mohammad Ali Abdul Chhipa (Anand), Ilias Ahmed Gulamnabi Shaikh, Imtiaz Noormohammad (Surat), Mohammad Iftekhar, Mohammad Irfan Rahim Shaikh, Abdul Raiz and Shaikh Mohammad (Surat).

Police inspector KV Patel of Karanj police station told TNN that the activists were accused of inciting communal passions and were then booked for rioting since they clashed with the police. Inflammatory hand-outs criticising the government for the ban and the US's making Laden a target were also distributed in the meeting. The hand-outs urged the minorities to support their action to pressure the authorities to lift the ban on SIMI.

The activists were booked under section 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, and for rioting.

Earlier in Kutch, five persons were picked up by the police on similar grounds as preventive action, which takes the total persons in custody in the state since the ban to 19.

The Loktantrik Samajwadi Party has criticised the ban saying that "since the government had no other agenda, they were trying to intimidate the Muslims by such decisions". Demanding a similar ban on Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and RSS, the LSP threatened to launch an agitation from October 2 if the government failed to meet their demand of sealing the offices of these organisations and arresting them under the National Security Act, the regional president Narendra Sankhaliya said.

In a separate press release, the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind alleged that the ban was "politically motivated and calculated to polarise the people on communal lines on the eve of the coming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh".

The JIH also called upon SIMI to defend itself with political and legal means and appealed to the Muslims to exercise patience and restrain.

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

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No takers for peace studies in Gandhi land Wednesday, October 3, 2001

AHMEDABAD: The last century was the most violent in all of human history, statistics will tell you. It is now a well-known fact that more people have died in wars in the 20th century than in the previous 2,000 years. And yet, even we celebrate yet another Gandhi Jayanti, India's first institution to provide a degree in peace studies and non-violence has only one full-time student today who is not even an Indian!

The Ahimsa Shodh Sansthan running the Institute of Studies and Research for Quest of Non-violence at the Gujarat Vidhyapith, the only Gandhian university in the world should ideally have been at the forefront of bring an academic perspective to peace efforts around the world. With so much bloodshed across the globe, one would imagine a growing army of solders arming themselves with a degree in non-violence as a way of resolving conflicts across the globe.

Instead, economic considerations ensure that very few students turn to the institute for a deeper look into peace. "We have one student from Belgium doing his MPhil in peace studies. The rest are part-time students," says director of the institute Sadhna Vora. "The main concern is what profession do you take up after a past graduation in peace. One can't guarantee a job after you graduate from here."

The institute has more students in the part time programmes with three students in the MPhil in peace studies, two in the science and non-violence programme, seven in Gandhian Thought and Social Reform. They also have 56 students registered in the distance learning programme.

Former director of the institute professor Devavrat Pathak says the numbers are even more pathetic when you consider that almost 95 per cent wars after 1945 and the ends of World War II have been fought in the third world. According to him, the developed nations have remained largely untouched and taken to a path of economic prosperity.

"War is a luxury only the poor can afford," Pathak says, his voice laced with sarcasm. "We are foolish enough to fight our wars on borrowed weapons. Every penny that we put in defence is taken out of social sectors like education and health."

Pathak, who has been a guide for a large portion of the 50-odd research papers brought out by the institute so far says war only supports one institution: the arms bazaar. A bazaar, that only encourages corruption as kickbacks, are integral to it, he feels. "We have to start realising that till about the 1950s, only 25 per cent of the casualties were civilian. As wars become more and more technology-driven, nearly 95 per cent of the casualties are civilian."

Both Pathak and Vora however are acutely aware that statistics on war may say anything, peace is not on the agenda of today's student.

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

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Ragging turns ugly at M S University Wednesday, October 3, 2001

VADODARA: In an ugly incident of ragging at MS University (MSU) halls of residence, junior medical students coming from outside the state were 'forced to strip and perform vulgar acts by seniors'. Hostel authorities had to call police to handle an otherwise volatile situation.

Sources told TNN that the ragging episode unfolded at the Jivraj Mehta Hall on Saturday night. A group of four senior students, reportedly intern doctors, allegedly went to the hall around 11 pm and ragged juniors.

The junior students, alleged ragging victims, are learnt to have come to Vadodara only a few days back for studies. Sources said the students who were forced into ragging had obtained admission recently after clearing the all-India pre-medical entrance tests.

A source in the hall and eye witness of the ragging incident said on conditions of anonymity that `the students were forced to strip by the seniors'. "Some students were asked to do sit-ups. All the while the seniors kept abusing them and jeered at them," the source said.

As many as ten students had been called in a particular room by the seniors for ragging. These include not only freshers but also students who were admitted to medicine last year.

In the meantime, employees of the hostel came to know of the incident and reported it to the hostel warden. The warden, Dr H B Kothari rushed to the room on the ground floor where the students were being ragged.

However, due to the ruckus the seniors got alarmed and escaped from the place. Hostel authorities claimed that they had managed to identity the students who were involved in the episode. They said the seniors who were involved in ragging were also those who had obtained admission on the basis of pre-medical tests.

The police, however, returned empty-handed from the spot. Sayajiganj police officials said no complaint had been registered with them regarding the incident. Nonetheless, they confirmed that they had rushed to the spot after disturbance was reported in the hostel.

Commenting on the episode Dr Kothari said junior students who had faced the ragging were afraid to come forward and complain. "We have identified four persons who were involved in the incident. However, the juniors are terrified to complain. There is little we can do if they do not cooperate", he said. The terrified students have been calling the episode an "introduction".

Incidentally, this is the first episode of its kind to be reported on the campus in years. The university had earlier issued a circular stating that all ragging activities on the campus must be dealt with strictly.

Student leaders, meanwhile, have reacted sharply to the issue saying that such acts must stop. Faculty of Arts general secretary and a hostel resident, Nitin Patel, said, "It is unfortunate that these students who have come from far off places like Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana are tortured in the hostels. The authorities must deal strictly with those involved in ragging".

MSU old hands believe that the ragging incident is likely to have larger ramifications and may snowball into a major controversy if those who had ragged juniors are left off the hook.

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

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