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September 20, 2001 - September 20, 2001

Christian priest, others 'attacked' in Kheda Thursday, September 20, 2001

AHMEDABAD: A Christian priest and three others, who had camped at Bharathri village in Kheda, were allegedly attacked by miscreants during the screening of a film on the life of Jesus Christ. The group is attached to the Operation Mobilisation Programme.

The Kheda district police have arrested four persons in the connection. A Maruti van has also been seized. A case of rioting has been registered at Thasra police station.

The priest, Paul L Christian, who was accompanied by village residents to LG Hospital for treatment, told TNN: "We were showing the film 'Dayasagar' around 9.30 pm on Tuesday when some 50 persons demanded that we stop screening." The 'attackers' were armed with sticks, iron pipes and swords, said the priest, who is attached to the Methodist Church.

Kishore T Vasava, who also claimed to have been beaten up, said the miscreants took them to a nearby forest and put a sword to their throat, coercing them into chanting 'Jai Bajrangbali' and 'Jai Shri Ram' after them.

However, when contacted, Superintendent of Police Manoj Agrawal said "the projector, which they claimed had been broken, is untraceable". He added that the SRP deployment in the area had been increased following the incident.

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

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Complaint filed against Fakirbhai's sons Thursday, September 20, 2001

AHMEDABAD/GANDHINAGAR: A resident of Borij village in Gandhinagar district, Ashok Keshavlal Sharma, has sent a request for security to the state government officials and the superintendent of police E Radhakrishna on the grounds that he and his family's life was under threat from the sons of state prohibition minister Fakirbhai Waghela.

In a three-page application describing the turn of events, Sharma said Waghela's sons, Jitubhai and Alpesh, had sent word through goons threatening to kill them on September 14.

Sharma tracks the vengeance back to a night-cricket match which he claimed was hosted by Waghela's sons in May this year. There occurred a scrap over someone wrongly parking his vehicle. Sharma apparently intervened to sort out the matter and was threatened by the minister's sons who flaunted their connections.

He alleged that "Waghela's sons and their goons tracked us down to our homes and began to make inquiries." Finally on Friday last week, when Sharma and his friends were at Rajshree cinema, some "20 persons came in a Maruti Zen and a Santro and took out hockey sticks from the boot of their cars and threatened to kill them," Sharma stated in the letter.

Sharma has sent copies of this letter to the Sector 21 police station, the home secretary, minister of state for home Haren Pandya, the director general of police and the Gandhinagar district collector.

When contacted, Radhakrishna denied having received any such application. The Sector 21 police inspector, one Mr Patel, told TNN: "If it is a cognisable offence, the complainant ought to have done the medical tests and proven thus. But he does not seem to have done any such thing. We receive several such applications daily."

Constables arrested for extortion: Two head constables and three constables were arrested on charges of extortion. In the first case, head constable Mukeshbhai Mavjibhai Makwana attached with the Karanj police station was caught after he tried to extort Rs 10,000 from a sex worker whose companion he had booked for "getting intimate in public."

He questioned them by posing himself as a sub-inspector from the crime branch. Police inspector K V Patel told TNN that the sex worker had come from Calcutta and was spotted by the constable sitting between two men on a scooter. Makwana stopped them and threatened to lodge a case unless she paid him the money. There was a representation before Additional Commissioner of Police (Sector I) Shivanand Jha and the head constable was arrested for extortion.

In another case, head constable Bhavubha Narsinh and constables Mukesh Mulshankar Joshi, Kalubhai Popatbhai Bharvad and Vijay Hiralal Sharma posted at the Satellite police station were arrested for accepting Rs 1.5 lakh from a hotelowner on Sarkhej-Gandhinagar road.

Rudrapal Singh Bhagwan Singh Khalsa, who owns Madhur Hotel, lodged a complaint before Jha stating that the cops fought with him and even damaged the window panes of his hotel. They then demanded Rs 2 lakh. Finally the four settled for Rs 1.5 lakh and were arrested for attempts to loot and extortion.

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

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55 cases of jaundice reported in Vadodara Thursday, September 20, 2001

VADODARA: As many as 55 cases of jaundice have been reported at the Infectious Diseases (ID) Hospital in the city. A majority of cases are from the P&T Colony on Harni Road, where unconfirmed sources said the disease claimed the life of a woman residing there.

The Vadodara Municipal Corporation medical officer Dr Dhurandhar Pathak said though the number of cases of jaundice is high, there is no threat to the city.

"The infections are limited to a particular colony. It won't lead to infections in any other parts," he said.

He said it is not established yet whether the woman who died at the P&T Colony had died due to jaundice.

Dr Sanjay Shah of ID Hospital says jaundice is endemic to the city, but from July to September the incidence of jaundice increases.

"For the past few days, we are getting an increasing number of cases from a particular pocket of the city (P&T Colony). It's possible that the outbreak might be restricted to only that colony due to contaminated drinking water," he said.

According to him, viral hepatitis is caused mainly due to water contamination.

Also, uncooked and raw foodstuff, including salads and fruits, can contribute to such infection.

Hepatitis can also be transmitted through faeces. Medical experts advise citizens to drink only boiled water and stay away from foodstuff that might be contaminated.

Meanwhile, the VMC deputy municipal commissioner RP Yagnik, who is in charge of the zone, said he has visited the colony and has taken water samples from the two main sources from which the colony gets its drinking water supply.

"We are also sending in water tankers so that residents do not have to use contaminated water," he said. According to him, the colony receives water from two sources -- a bore well and the VMC water line. The water from both these sources is transmitted to over-head water tanks. Block I and H are the worst hit, he said.

Sources in the P&T Colony say the lack of adequate maintenance and old corroded pipelines within the colony could be responsible for the infections.

At many places drinking water pipelines and the old drainage lines were running close; corrosion of the pipes may have caused contamination.

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

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Bias against girl child getting stronger Thursday, September 20, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Sex-ratio of girls in the 0-6 age group has dwindled in the last decade from 928 per 1,000 boys to 878 girls and it does not take an expert to identify female foeticide as the culprit.

The alarming dip has prompted experts to ponder over steps to reverse this trend revealed by census 2001. One such meeting of 80 representatives from judiciary, media, voluntary agencies, social and religious groups, police personnel and women's cell on Wednesday discussed factors for the spurt in female foeticide and ways to curb it.

"Female foeticide is more a social problem than a legislative shortcoming", observed member of the National Commission for Women (NCW) Poornima Advani addressing the meeting organised by CHETNA.

While factors like poverty and dowry play a crucial role in the preference for a male child, the bias against the girl child even among those relatively well-off needs to probed, she said and added, "Better living standards do not necessarily ensure a better deal for the female child".

Talking of the apathy in implementing the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act to curb female foeticide, home secretary K Nityanandam said that the biggest hurdle was that the technique was given the protection by society itself. "One of the main problems with the law is that since the women and her family, as well as the doctor and clinic/hospital would not themselves report the offence, reporting the same is almost non-existent", Nityanandam said.

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

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Gujaratis forced to leave pickles and pedas behind Thursday, September 20, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Food may not be the same for non-resident Gujaratis living in the US, and it may be long before some of their gastronomic desires, which were fulfilled with arrivals of delectable delicacies and mouth-watering spices from back home, are satiated.

In the wake of the terrorist attacks last week, the US Federal Aviation Administration has imposed ban on certain commodities, including some of the favourite edible items which the Gujaratis had been regularly carrying to the US.

While the international departure terminal was smelling heavily of spices and foodstuff in wake of heavy checking by authorities, stringent restriction imposed on hand baggage weight saw a lot of harassed faces running around in the lobby on Wednesday morning.

Travellers to US normally carry trolley-bags, the weight of which is about five kg. With the hand baggage load being restricted to a net weight of five kg, passengers were seen discarding heavy bags and transferring material to polythene bags, said an official in A-I traffic. Also, passengers had to shed a lot of baggage weight and had to leave behind items with their relatives who had come to see them off.

Items like chilly powder and spices, which were earlier allowed, have now been prohibited even in check-in baggage. Red-chilly powder, spices, barfi, pedas, rasgullas, ghee etc have now been included on the list of banned items under new rules which earlier disallowed carrying of endangered species, live insects like snails, reptiles and other crawlies, apart from the usual contraband.

Following the attacks on US, the FAA had immediately issued instructions which were circulated by Air-India at all international airports in the form of a 27-page circular.

According to A-I airport manager B K Chatterjee, earlier people travelling to US were carrying all sort of items from pickles to theplas to papad. Passengers even carried items of daily use like pressure cookers, broomsticks and even 'kadais' as adapting to US lifestyle was difficult for many.

Complete ban has been imposed on dairy or milk-based products like ghee, sweets, condensed milk. "This has probably been done due to the risk of possible microbial contamination using food medium," said a Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) official posted at the airport.

But the US authorities, however, softened their stance on Tuesday when they affected amendments to the first list. "While all edible items were banned initially, we are now allowing passengers to carry items which can be scanned visually, barring a few," says Chatterjee.

The ban now extends to canned items, those in sealed polythene bags, or packed in metallic foils and are not visible unless unpacked or unwrapped. Pickles in bottles have been completely banned, and only those items are being allowed which are clearly visible.

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

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