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September 30, 2001 - October 1, 2001

State women's commission demanded Monday, October 1, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Representatives from different states who participated in a seminar on 'The strategies for effective implementation of the Judicial-Legal systems' here have demanded that a state-level women's body should be constituted in every state on the lines of the National Commission for Women (NCW).

They said that once such a body is set up, they can deal with women's issues sensitively.

The two-day seminar was organised by the Centre for Health Education Training and Nutrition Awareness (CHETNA) in the wake of the recent announcement by Prime Minister Vajpayee of the National Policy for Women's Empowerment-2001.

The policy envisages that the social, political, cultural and economic rights of women be considered as state subjects.

More than 100 delegates from all over the country in the seminar were unanimous over the issue of sensitising the village panchayat for the empowerment of women.

Member of Gujarat Law Commission H K Jhaveri said that there should be more involvement of panchayats at village level for the implementation of the laws. Another participant felt strengthening of their authority to hold public hearing over matters related to domestic violence would help to a large extent to ameliorate the status of women.

Pratibha Jain of Vishwa Bharati Institute felt that making the journalists more sensitive to women's issues by introducing the subject of women's empowerment in their professional curriculum and strengthening the system of checks and balance against obscene portrayal of women in the media would give impetus to the issue of women's empowerment.

Recommendations are being worked out by the groups formed from the participants, which will be eventually handed over to the commission for the effective implementation of the judicial-legal system.

Earlier, speaking on the occasion, member-secretary of the NCW Reva Nayyar said that there was a need to generate public awareness about women's empowerment policy and explore ways for its effective implementation.

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

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Governor, CM mourn Scindia's demise Monday, October 1, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat Governor Sundar Singh Bhandari condoled the death of Congress leader Madhavrao Scindia saying that the country had "lost a committed and enthusiastic youth leader." The governor sent a condolence message to the grieving family.

Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel expressed deep sorrow at Scindia's untimely death and said that his place can never be filled by anyone of that stature. Rajya Sabha member Ahmed Patel was shocked at the incident and said that "he gave up his life serving the cause of his party".

Scindia had for a brief while been in-charge of Gujarat's affairs of the Congress after Sonia Gandhi took over.

"The loss is irreparable, not only for the country and the Congress, but to me personally," Ahmed Patel said. He called him a dynamic person and an effective speaker, who had complete understanding of politics and also deep knowledge of economic and social issues.

The untimely death of the Congress leader has left the state party leaders in a state of shock. In a statement, GPCC president Amarsinh Chaudhary expressed shock at the incident and stated that in his death the party had lost a powerful leader. Congress spokespersons Hasmukh Patel, Arvind Sanghavi and Jayanti Parmar stated that Scindia was quite active in the task of making the Congress viable. Member of Parliament Brahmkumar Bhatt and Assembly member Narhari Amin said he had good understanding of the issues and problems and as deputy leader in Parliament he was a great help to the Leader of the Opposition and party president Sonia Gandhi.

GPCC vice-president and spokesperson Ashok Punjabi and others also joined in paying tributes to the departed leader. Senior Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela, former chief minister Dilip Parikh and SSNL chairman Bhupendrasinh Chudasama have also mourned Scindia's death.

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

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Shattered BJP shivers at the name of poll Sunday, September 30, 2001

Source:Times News Network
AHMEDABAD: The prospect of holding the long-overdue elections to over 10,000 gram panchayats in Gujarat is giving the jitters to a demoralised BJP which suffered a humiliating defeat in the recent by-elections. The Keshubhai government is, once gain, trying to postpone the elections as it does not want to hand over these village bodies on a platter to an upbeat Congress.

But, unfortunately for the BJP, with the state having received 94% of its average rainfall, it cannot take refuge in drought which ws cited as the reason for putting off the elections thrice earlier.

The reluctance of the BJP to contest any elections is evident from the order the party government passed on September 5, postponing polls to 86 nagar panchayats and municipalities which are also overdue.

The by-election debacle has only crystallised the view in the ruling clique that it would be unwise to hold polls as of now. In a smart move, when the BJP government announced the postponement of the gram panchayat elections in March this year, it did not set a time frame for conducting it. In the previous notifications, the polls were postponed for a three-month period.

The ground for the postponements was that the government machinery was tackling the drought (later, the quake) and was not in a position to hold elections.

Sources reveal that elections are now due to nearly 10,000 out of the 13,500 gram panchayats in the state. If the polls are held in December or January, another 1000 panchayats will have to be added to the list as their term expires in March 2002.

Remarks former chief minister and Congress MP Shankersinh Vaghela, "I know these BJP people quite well, they are scared by the very mention of elections and will never allow these, because they know the Congress will sweep 90% of the urban and rural civic bodies." Vaghela says the BJP would not like to have any elections before March 2002, when assembly polls are due.

Sources in the government say that elections to zila panchayats of Banaskantha and Kheda and nearly 20 taluka panchayats in these districts are also due, but the BJP leadership is not keen on holding these, too.

A little over a year back, when the BJP went for panchayat elections, it lost 85% of the zila and taluka panchayats, mostly to the Congress. And the thought of again approaching the rural voter is not every encouraging!

Congress sources say while the BJP may like to postpone the elections indefinitely on flimsy grounds, legal action to force the government's hand is being contemplated. The Congress is confident of wresting the administration at the village level which could be crucial while facing the assembly elections.

According to a BJP source, there was a view, some time back, in the ruling party that in Sabarkantha, where the zila and taluka panchayats are controlled by the Congress, and Sabarmati, where the municipal corporation is again in the hands of Congress, there would be an anti-incumbency factor working against the Congress, too. However, the results have shown that it is only the BJP-ruled state government which incurred the wrath of the voters.

Overdue Elections
Gram panchayat:10,000
Zila panchayat:2
Taluka panchayat:20
Nagar panchayat and municipality:86

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

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Six with SIMI links questioned Sunday, September 30, 2001

Source:Times News Network
VADODARA: Police have come across six people linked with the Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in the city. The four persons have been identified as Ashikur Rehman Sirajwala, Usman Agarbattiwala, Nasir Ahmedmiya Godhrawala, Naushad Bhurekhan Pathan, Gulamrasul alias Bapu Usmangani Mansuri and Mohammed Hanif Shaikh.

Police sources said Sirajwala runs a tuition class in Wadi and simultaneously works as an organiser for SIMI, and is suspected to have links with anti-social elements. Agarbattiwala, also a resident of Wadi area, has been associated with SIMI. Godhrawala, a resident of Dabifaliya in Panigate is learnt to be a SIMI member. Pathan, Mansuri and Shaikh too are learnt to be SIMI members.

Sleuths from the local crime branch carried out search raids at their houses. Notices have also been issued, but so far no incriminating evidence of indulging in anti-national activities has been found, police said.

Though the city police have ascertained there were no SIMI activities in Vadodara nor did they have any office, it still believed that an extensive search of houses belonging to the suspected SIMI members was necessary.

"SIMI does not have an office in Vadodara, nor is there any record of SIMI instigating or fomenting tension in the city. In fact, here those who had been linked with SIMI were passive and might just be operating from their houses," police commissioner J Mahapatra told TNN. He said there were no arrests and termed the raids on people linked with SIMI as a "routine" policing exercise. The raids, Mahapatra said, were conducted by crime branch sleuths.

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

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IT raids at Nirma HQ Sunday, September 30, 2001

Source:Times News Network
AHMEDABAD: Nirma Limited has hit back at the Income Tax department for the raids carried out on a number of its establishments in the state and said that while some "cost saving systems" were being misinterpreted as tax evasion by the department, the entire exercise was conducted in a high-handed manner and was just a farce.

The company said in a press release that a simple cost saving exercise of bank transactions of fund transfer from Mumbai to Ahmedabad through efficient mechanism of two banks is being wrongly interpreted by the authorities as tax evasion. Further, even after the search operations are over and knowing the facts, the related officials are still making statements that "evasion expected to be much more than expected" and "may run into several crores of rupees". Such statements are not expected from the highly responsible government authorities, the company said.

Nirma said it has always co-operated with the department. It has rendered all informatijon as and when asked for by the I-T department on any issue. In fact, it would have been easier and simpler to source information from the respective banks, and then calling for missing information if any from the company, instead of resorting to such massive exercises of search.

"All the norms of fair and just dealing were flouted in the over-enthusiasm as search was carried out at the residence of professional directors of the professional board, distributors, business associates, independent consultants, senior officials and even lower-level employees of the company. Such an extensive search was a farce, considering the information sought by the authorities during search at all the places. The irony was that even a widow, aged more than 60 years and suffering from multiple diseases, of an employee who expired three years ago was subjected to interrogation. At the same time, even an employee who left two years ago and not connected in any other form with the company was covered in search operations," the press release said.

The statement said the company management was determined to seek justice for the irresponsible treatment meted out to the company even as it extends all necessary support to the authorities in the matter.

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

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