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September 7, 2001 - September 7, 2001

Ex-servicemen file police complaint against Army 'obstacle' Friday, September 7, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Imagine living in a house without an approach. It is a nightmare turned into reality for two former servicemen, Dr Balkrishna Kedia and Hemant Kumar, and their families who have been left with no exit from their houses since Tuesday evening inside the 14-acre Hansol firing range of the Army that has not seen any bullets fly for the past couple of years.

The two former Armymen have lodged a complaint with the Sardarnagar police station on Wednesday charging the Army with wrongful confinement under section 341 of IPC.

Dr Kedia, who had served as a Captain in the Army Medical Corps and is an associate professor at Civil Hospital, says: "On Tuesday when I returned after taking classes at the hospital, I saw that a deep trench had been dug across the road that led to my house by Army jawans. This road that had been open for use for 35 years had suddenly turned off-limits for the residents and I found myself locked out of my home with my family inside."

A similar predicament was faced by his neighbour, Hemant Kumar, who had to jump over the fences encircling the Army firing range to reach his home. "We met the deputy General-Officer-Commanding (GOC) and even GOC apart from other senior Armymen but none responded to our pleas instead sent us packing with scathing remarks questioning our decade-old existence inside the firing range," says Kumar who was associated with the Army's education wing.

Both Kumar and Dr Kedia say plot number 366 was bought by five individuals in 1992, complete with sub-plotting and building permission, from the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. Kumar moved into his house in 1993, while Dr Kedia took possession of his house in 1996.

"In 1995, the road connecting our houses to the road running by hotel Taj Ummed was closed down. This affected us as well as the 100-odd families who live in Hansol village; the matter was taken to the collector, who ruled in our favour. But, only in 1997, a station commander heard our pleas sympathetically and allowed us to use this road -- our only exit point from the otherwise landlocked area," said Kumar.

So, with the problem resurfacing on Tuesday and being turned down by the Army personnel, the two former-servicemen took refuge in police. A former director general of police A.K. Tandon feels strongly about the issue. Tandon, who lives inside the firing range, albeit in a different part, says: "In a similar case the Karnataka High Court had ruled in favour of the residents who were living inside a so-called Army area. Since this fire range is defunct, residents who have been allowed to live here by the civic authorities should not be bothered."

The BJP city chief, Mayaben Kodnani, said, "About six months back, I, along with a delegation, met the chief minister and the home minister on this issue. The result was that since this area is increasingly being used for residential purposes the Army cannot be allowed to use it as a firing range".

Army's Administrative commandant in Ahmedabad, Colonel Lal Singh told TNN: "This 14-acre land is owned by the Army since 1962 and civilians cannot be allowed to misuse it. Bowing to humanitarian considerations we provided a pathway many years back. But, every now and then residents ask for a fresh exit that is convenient to them. That the two families are stranded is far from true. These are nothing but pressure tactics to which we refuse to give in."

News Source : Times News Network [ Lightning News ]


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Ex-servicemen file police complaint against Army 'obstacle' Friday, September 7, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Imagine living in a house without an approach. It is a nightmare turned into reality for two former servicemen, Dr Balkrishna Kedia and Hemant Kumar, and their families who have been left with no exit from their houses since Tuesday evening inside the 14-acre Hansol firing range of the Army that has not seen any bullets fly for the past couple of years.

The two former Armymen have lodged a complaint with the Sardarnagar police station on Wednesday charging the Army with wrongful confinement under section 341 of IPC.

Dr Kedia, who had served as a Captain in the Army Medical Corps and is an associate professor at Civil Hospital, says: "On Tuesday when I returned after taking classes at the hospital, I saw that a deep trench had been dug across the road that led to my house by Army jawans. This road that had been open for use for 35 years had suddenly turned off-limits for the residents and I found myself locked out of my home with my family inside."

A similar predicament was faced by his neighbour, Hemant Kumar, who had to jump over the fences encircling the Army firing range to reach his home. "We met the deputy General-Officer-Commanding (GOC) and even GOC apart from other senior Armymen but none responded to our pleas instead sent us packing with scathing remarks questioning our decade-old existence inside the firing range," says Kumar who was associated with the Army's education wing.

Both Kumar and Dr Kedia say plot number 366 was bought by five individuals in 1992, complete with sub-plotting and building permission, from the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. Kumar moved into his house in 1993, while Dr Kedia took possession of his house in 1996.

"In 1995, the road connecting our houses to the road running by hotel Taj Ummed was closed down. This affected us as well as the 100-odd families who live in Hansol village; the matter was taken to the collector, who ruled in our favour. But, only in 1997, a station commander heard our pleas sympathetically and allowed us to use this road -- our only exit point from the otherwise landlocked area," said Kumar.

So, with the problem resurfacing on Tuesday and being turned down by the Army personnel, the two former-servicemen took refuge in police. A former director general of police A.K. Tandon feels strongly about the issue. Tandon, who lives inside the firing range, albeit in a different part, says: "In a similar case the Karnataka High Court had ruled in favour of the residents who were living inside a so-called Army area. Since this fire range is defunct, residents who have been allowed to live here by the civic authorities should not be bothered."

The BJP city chief, Mayaben Kodnani, said, "About six months back, I, along with a delegation, met the chief minister and the home minister on this issue. The result was that since this area is increasingly being used for residential purposes the Army cannot be allowed to use it as a firing range".

Army's Administrative commandant in Ahmedabad, Colonel Lal Singh told TNN: "This 14-acre land is owned by the Army since 1962 and civilians cannot be allowed to misuse it. Bowing to humanitarian considerations we provided a pathway many years back. But, every now and then residents ask for a fresh exit that is convenient to them. That the two families are stranded is far from true. These are nothing but pressure tactics to which we refuse to give in."

News Source : Times News Network [ Lightning News ]


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Vyara tree-felling scam case hearing on Sept 26 Friday, September 7, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
GANDHINAGAR: The hearing of the Vyara tree-felling scam, involving former chief minister Amarsinh Chaudhary, which was to take place before the Lok Ayukta Justice S M Soni on Tuesday, has been adjourned to September 26.

During 1983-1985 when Chaudhary was forest minister, a major tree-felling scam occurred in Dangs, Surat and Valsad districts. It was brought to light a few months later when he was elevated to chief minister's post.

The market value of the wood removed illicitly during this period from the forests of Surat circle in South Gujarat was placed at Rs 18 crore.

A legal battle ensued as a public interest litigation case was filed in 1989 in the Gujarat High Court, which directed that the case be tried by the Lok Ayukta.

Various affidavits were filed before the Lok Ayukta by forest officials who detected the scam while holding charge of those areas.

An affidavit was also filed by MN Vaishnav who was the principal chief conservator of forests between 1980 and 1989. It stated that he had appointed GA Patel as conservator of forest Surat Circle on May 10, 1985.

He had submitted a report that within 10 days Patel had reported to him that there was a large scale felling of valuable trees in 1984-85. He took steps to recover the wood. As the area was large three chief conservators JA Dave, AS Kapasi and HA Vaishnav were sent to visit different areas and submit report.

After the visits spread over May, June and July they reported that large scale wood-felling and theft took place before May 1985. He visited Vyara and Rajpipla and confirmed the same.

The affidavit claimed that on instructions of Chaudhary, who was chief minister, a report had to be prepared though the investigation was not complete. Even the incomplete counts showed that some 2.13 lakh trees were cut. Moreover, the local officials had not filed any complaint despite the offence.

Vaishnav claimed that forest officials were scolded in his presence by Chaudhary who asked them to be practical or face severe consequences. The officials were told to go on leave.

An affidavit filed by a range forest officer Prabhudas Rohit stated that following instructions of his seniors massive raids and patrolling was carried out in Vyara and Unai range on February 18, 1985, and felled trees were confiscated.

He claimed that in view of the forthcoming assembly and parliamentary elections, it was a politically charged atmosphere and a campaign of "zaad kaapo-ghar banaavo-vote apo" (cut trees, build houses and give votes) was doing rounds and the forest staff was being attacked if they tried to prevent wood felling.

According to Rohit he was summoned by Chaudhary at his residence and told not to go for patrolling in the interiors and to move only on the main roads as it would affect his votebank. He had noted the same in his daily diary notes which are sent to the superiors.

News Source : Times News Network [ Lightning News ]


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Amarsinh's Lok Ayukta case hearing on Sept 26 Friday, September 7, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
GANDHINAGAR: The hearing of the Vyara tree-felling scam, involving former chief minister Amarsinh Chaudhary, which was to take place before the Lok Ayukta Justice S M Soni on Tuesday, has been adjourned to September 26.

During 1983-1985 when Chaudhary was forest minister, a major tree-felling scam occurred in Dangs, Surat and Valsad districts. It was brought to light a few months later when he was elevated to chief minister's post.

The market value of the wood removed illicitly during this period from the forests of Surat circle in South Gujarat was placed at Rs 18 crore.

A legal battle ensued as a public interest litigation case was filed in 1989 in the Gujarat High Court, which directed that the case be tried by the Lok Ayukta.

Various affidavits were filed before the Lok Ayukta by forest officials who detected the scam while holding charge of those areas.

An affidavit was also filed by MN Vaishnav who was the principal chief conservator of forests between 1980 and 1989. It stated that he had appointed GA Patel as conservator of forest Surat Circle on May 10, 1985.

He had submitted a report that within 10 days Patel had reported to him that there was a large scale felling of valuable trees in 1984-85. He took steps to recover the wood. As the area was large three chief conservators JA Dave, AS Kapasi and HA Vaishnav were sent to visit different areas and submit report.

After the visits spread over May, June and July they reported that large scale wood-felling and theft took place before May 1985. He visited Vyara and Rajpipla and confirmed the same.

The affidavit claimed that on instructions of Chaudhary, who was chief minister, a report had to be prepared though the investigation was not complete. Even the incomplete counts showed that some 2.13 lakh trees were cut. Moreover, the local officials had not filed any complaint despite the offence.

Vaishnav claimed that forest officials were scolded in his presence by Chaudhary who asked them to be practical or face severe consequences. The officials were told to go on leave.

An affidavit filed by a range forest officer Prabhudas Rohit stated that following instructions of his seniors massive raids and patrolling was carried out in Vyara and Unai range on February 18, 1985, and felled trees were confiscated.

He claimed that in view of the forthcoming assembly and parliamentary elections, it was a politically charged atmosphere and a campaign of "zaad kaapo-ghar banaavo-vote apo" (cut trees, build houses and give votes) was doing rounds and the forest staff was being attacked if they tried to prevent wood felling.

According to Rohit he was summoned by Chaudhary at his residence and told not to go for patrolling in the interiors and to move only on the main roads as it would affect his votebank. He had noted the same in his daily diary notes which are sent to the superiors.

News Source : Times News Network [ Lightning News ]


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ESMA invoked against striking school staff Friday, September 7, 2001

( PTI )
GANDHINAGAR: The Gujarat government has invoked the Essential Services Maintenanct Act against 5,500 school employees as their indefinite strike entered the tenth day Friday, paralysing the education system.

The state government invoked the ESMA provisions on Thursday night following failure of its efforts to persuade the striking employees to end their stir.

The teachers and non-teaching staff of government-aided secondary and senior secondary schools have been demanding vehicle allowance from April 1998 and pay scale on par with central government employees among other things.

The state government has issued notices to several schools to resume teaching immediately and has also claimed that of the 5,500 schools affected by the strike 1,500 have reopened.

However, Gujarat Rajya Shaikshanik Sankalan Samiti spokesman Ashok Shahthe claimed the strike would continue irrespective of invocation of ESMA.

He said, "if the government resorts to pressure tactics, we will be forced to commit immolation." He also said that ESMA notices would be burnt publicly.

News Source : Times News Network [ Lightning News ]


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