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September 29, 2001 - September 29, 2001

Stage set for 'Super CM' to make a comeback Saturday, September 29, 2001

AHMEDABAD: He earned the sobriquet of 'Super CM' when Keshubhai Patel first ascended to the office of chief minister in 1995.

He was the power behind the throne and many saw Patel as just the figure-head. Life seems to have turned a full cycle for Narendra Modi as the beleaguered BJP , which has banished him from Gujarat for the last four years , now looks up to him again for deliverance.

It is not clear so far what form Modi's involvement in Gujarat affairs will take and whether he would climb back to that same level of authority which he used to wield during Patel's first tenure as chief minister. It is , however , becoming clear to the BJP that the man they treated as a pariah in Gujarat for so long is the only one they can pin their hopes on if they have to harbour any ambitions in the next assembly elections.

While many in the party feel that he is CM material , others would be happy if he has some organisational role to play in Gujarat. Whether that be as the BJP's state president or as a supervisor-emissary from the Delhi leadership is something that the party will have to decide soon , given the indications that are trickling in from the BJP headquarters , shaken as it is by the twin debacle in the by-elections.

It was perhaps after months , if not years , that Keshubhai Patel and Narendra Modi met in New Delhi on Wednesday evening with a considerable degree of cordiality. Patel had clearly told the party high command when he became chief minister for the second time that Gujarat should be out of bounds for Modi . The chief minister was convinced that it was Modi and Modi alone who was responsible for his travails in the previous tenure which culminated with Shankersinh Vaghela's rebellion.

Modi's visits to Ahmedabad have been discreet and low-key for the last three years or more. He never visited Gandhinagar ,the seat of power , and even close aides who used to meet him had a lurking suspicion that they would incur the wrath of the state leadership. Modi never commented to the media on Gujarat though he was comfortable discussiong national issues. "My hands are tied", he used to tell BJP leaders who used to complain about the drift in Gujarat BJP.

But the BJP leadership should have listened to the applause and the standing ovation that Modi got at a ceremony held one year back to honour those leaders who defied the imposition of Emergency 25 years back. The popularity that he still commands in the BJP rank and file was in full evidence as red-faced BJP leaders were forced to join the prolonged clapping which went on for full five minutes , in sharp contrast to the rather muted applause which soome other MISA detainees from the BJP got.

But the BJP , while ackowledging Modi's exceptional organisational skills , took the nobody-is-indispensable stance and drew satisfaction in the fact that Sanjay Joshi , the RSS nominee in BJP as organisation secretary , would eclipse his predecessor. But neither Joshi nor the numerous other BJP leaders who swear by the RSS could forge the entire Sangh Parivar into a cohesive fighting machine which successive elections to the panchayats , municipal bodies and now the assembly and parliamentary by-elections have amply shown.

Some in the BJP may argue that there was a deliberate conspiracy by the RSS and the VHP to make things difficult for the BJP in order to create conditons for Modi's return . Whatever be the case , there are now reports that the chief minister has been forced to grudgingly accept a distinct role for Modi in the state BJP in the coming days . Doubts still persist , however , over their ability to work as a team , given the recent history of bitterness.

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

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Three SIMI activists held in Kutch Saturday, September 29, 2001

AHMEDABAD: The police on Friday raided offices of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India in various parts of the state and detained three persons in Kutch under Section 151 of the CrPC.

Searches were conducted at SIMI branches in Bharuch, Modasa, Surat, Junagadh, Kutch and Vadodara. The organisation has the maximum influence in Bharuch district, followed by Kutch and Surat.

Those detained are Ali Mohammad Hingorja, Isa Ahmed Ghanchi and Mohammad Omar Sameja, Kutch Superintendent of Police Vivek Srivastava said. They had earlier been detained after the Kutch quake, for making inflammatory speeches.

Minister of state for home Haren Pandya held meetings with Additional Chief Secretary (Home) VVR Subbarao and other officials and issued orders for detention of persons under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967, if they are found to be supporting SIMI.

Pandya warned that those caught indulging in anti-national acts would be detained under the National Security Act. Stringent action would be taken against those disrupting peace.

The Kutch police have stepped up security at all sensitive points in the district in the light of the Lucknow violence. There are at least 323 'madarsas' in the district, some of which might be put under surveillance, sources said.

In Ahmedabad, crime branch sleuths headed by inspector J L Jadeja swooped on SIMI's headquarters at Shahpur breaking open the lock. They seized posters, notepads, bank slips, and a jeep-load of material in raids that lasted nearly five hours. The team found a computer monitor and a printer but the central processing unit was missing, and so vital data could not be accessed.

After the raids the office at Noor complex was sealed. A crowd of onlookers watched the operation. A SIMI accounts with Jammu and Kashmir Bank was frozen by the police.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Gyanender Singh Malik, who was present during the raids, said "homes of certain SIMI members were also searched in Gomtipur and other places in the city".

Eight of the SIMI members, who went underground soon after hearing of the ban, have been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967.

They are, Gujarat zone president Khalid Gulam Ahmed Shaikh, Mohammad Yassin Gulam Mohammad Falari, Mahid Shaikh, Sahil Iqbal Patel, Ibrahim Khalil, Iqbal Mirza, Mohammad Faroukh Khan Mehboob Khan Pathan and Asif Mustafa Husain Shaikh, city unit president of SIMI, who has been charged with distributing inflammatory hand-outs.

Meanwhile, sources said the Centre's ban notification was received only around 11.30 pm on Thursday, hours after the electronic media flashed scenes of the disturbance in Lucknow and other cities. This delayed the police action.

Gujarat has about a dozen SIMI functionaries and is believed to have several supporters. Students between the age of 15 and 30 are eligible to be SIMI members and it also runs a women's wing called the Shaheen Force.

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

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SIMI offices in state to be sealed Saturday, September 29, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Taking a cue from the Centre's ban on the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967, Gujarat police will seal all offices of the organisation and conduct searches on them, highly placed sources said.

SIMI has its zonal office at Shahpur, which is alleged to have supported the bandh call that snowballed into communal riots, claiming two lives in Ahmedabad recently.

While the Gujarat police are yet to receive the said notification issued on Thursday, police sources said, "SIMI activists may be arrested if they involve in any unlawful activities deemed under this banner hereafter."

It might be recalled that the state government too had recommended a ban on SIMI sometime in April, after at least 10 activists were arrested in Bhuj and Ahmedabad for anti-national activities soon after the earthquake.

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

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Controversy continues to dog MSUSU leaders Saturday, September 29, 2001

VADODARA: Controversies continued to dog elected representatives of MS University Students' Union (MSUSU) with the National Students' Union of India alleging that both the candidates elected to the apex posts of MSUSU were not eligible and that their election must be set aside.

This time around MSUSU general secretary (GS) Mehul Lakhani is in the eye of the storm due to a job he is pursuing with Vadodara Municipal Corporation's (VMC) primary school in the city. National Students' Union of India (NSUI) leaders have now alleged that Lakhani did not disclose this fact when the filled his admission form.

Former MSUSU GS and NSUI leader Prakash Verma said that legally it was necessary for the Lakhani to mention this in his admission form. "This implies that he submitted wrong information to the university at the time of his admission. If the rules are followed his admission must be cancelled," Verma said.

NSUI leaders made representations regarding the issue to pro vice-chancellor VD Pathak on Friday. NSUI city unit president Prashant Patel said legally it was necessary for Lakhani to submit a no-objection certificate from his employer to get an admission in the university. "However, Lakhani did not do so and misled the authorities," Patel said.

The leaders have accused the university administration of taking sides with the elected representatives. "They have taken the matter lightly for reasons best known to them," said Verma.

NSUI leaders also raised the issue that MSUSU vice-president Bharat Dangar's academic term would come to an end in December this year. Legally the post would then fall vacant if Dangar does not manage to get an admission elsewhere.

Dangar, the leaders claimed, would cease to be a student in December after his last semester of ME (microprocessing) gets over. "He has taken the students for a ride. Why did he contest the polls knowing well that he would not be holding the post after December," said student leader Amit Ghotikar.

Both Lakhani and Dangar, however, defended themselves saying that NSUI leaders had raked up the controversy as they had lost both the posts of V-P and GS for the first time in MSUSU's history. "They are not able to tolerate defeat and hence have gone berserk. I would like to remind them that many of their leaders did not pay the second term fees after being elected to the union. They too had technically ceased to be students. Those making the allegations need to do some introspection before making allegations," said Dangar.

Lakhani refuted the charges against him saying that his job was part-time and temporary in nature. "I teach students which I feel is far better than making money by dubious means like leaders in the past. Several students on the campus do such petty jobs," he said.

Lakhani added that he was doing the job since 13 months and was pursuing it when he had contested for the post of V-P last year. "Nobody raised the issue at that time because I had lost the polls. This time they have raked it up as I got elected," Lakhani pointed out.

Pathak, meanwhile, said that he would forward the memorandum submitted by the students to the MSUSU president. "The president and returning officer will look into the matter," he said.

At the other end, the students are adamant that the issue must be discussed in Saturday's syndicate meeting. "We will gherao the syndicate members. Also, faculty representatives supporting us will raise the issue in Saturday's union meeting," said student leader Jignesh Patel.

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

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Gangster shot dead in encounter Saturday, September 29, 2001

SURAT: Acting swiftly the city police on Wednesday not only averted what could have been a bloody encounter between the underworld in the city but also stumbled upon some important clues about the mafia rivalry involving some gangsters wanted by Surat and Mumbai police for their involvement in a number of heinous crimes.

On being informed by the intelligence wing, the city police laid a trap near the city court on Wednesday and nabbed one Sunil Atmaram Shetty _ who had planned to kill two accused of 1992 Surat bomb blasts, Hussain Gahdiayali and Mohammad Surti, on their way to attend a TADA hearing in the court.

Shetty revealed that his accomplices, Arun Devadika, Hemant Pujari, Kandan Singh Rawat and Anand Chikna, were to meet near Towerwala Mandir on the Hazira Road later in the evening to chalk out their other plans in the city.

Escorted by the police, Shetty spotted his accomplice, Anand Chikna _ a close associate of Chhota Rajan gang and sharp-shooter from Mumbai. When asked to surrender, Chikna fired indiscriminately from two revolvers, one in each hand, according to additional police commissioner Ashish Bhatia. In the return of fire, Chikna was shot dead. Shetty, however, gave police the slip, taking advantage of the commotion.

Following the encounter, all the exit points in the city have been sealed. A massive combing operation has been launched since Wednesday night the city and all the neighbouring states, including Maharashtra, have been informed.

According to the police, they had to fire at Chikna in self-defence. Chikna was rushed to the New Civil Hospital at around 9.45 pm where he was declared brought dead. He had fired at the police from two foreign-make revolvers, Bhatia said.

The police recovered a purse and a list of phone numbers from the deceased. The police have started working on a number of leads. Bhatia said a watch was being kept at the city courts during TADA case hearings in the recent past, following reports that associates of Chhota Rajan gang from Mumbai had plans to kill all those accused in the bomb blasts in the city in 1992-93.

The police had information that there could be attacks on two of the TADA accused, who were released on bail a few months ago, on Wednesday by the Chhota Rajan gang members in the city. On an earlier occasions too sharpshooters from the underworld had come to the city for the same purpose, a senior police official said.

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

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