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August 31, 2001 - August 31, 2001

Govt fears violence could spread Friday, August 31, 2001

AHMEDABAD: There is something more sinister about the communal violence that the city has witnessed over the past week than what the BJP government is letting on as of now.

But with two persons killed in police firing and the culmination of Ganesh festivities scheduled on Saturday, the administration is all geared up for an escalation and a possible spread of violence.

"We are taking every precaution, not just in Ahmedabad but also in Vadodara and Surat," said additional chief secretary for home V V R Subba Rao. He, however, said there was "no visible pattern" behind the communal trouble witnessed in Ahmedabad so far and that the two flare-ups in Dariapur and Shahpur were "not inter-connected".

Officials said security in Ahmedabad and some other centres had been tightened and Friday could be a crucial indicator of things to come in the next few weeks.

The authorities, at present, seem rather confused about the motive behind the low-intensity violence that is taking place in Ahmedabad and believe it has the potential to spread to other areas and even flare up. Surat is considered particularly sensitive as eight persons were killed in police firing during idol immersion two years back. A massive bandobast has, therefore, been made for the Ganesh Visarjan there.

While a delegation of Muslims led by Congressmen met minister of state for home Haren Pandya on Thursday, protesting against lethal police firing during the clashes, the officials felt the leadership of the minority community was no longer in the hands of the main Opposition party. "This is a hypothesis which has been given to us by the intelligence agencies and we would like the government to interact with a wider representation of the community," Subba Rao said.

The government is aware that new organisations like the Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), Ahmedabad Muslim Youth Association, Lok Jantantrik Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party and others are trying to make their presence felt in the politics of Gujarat which has remained bi-polar so far.

However, the government believes that the current spell of violence may not be related to the coming by-elections to Sabarkantha and Sabarmati because there is not much of a Muslim vote bank in these two constituencies.

The BJP government is, in fact, walking a thin line because even outfits like the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad are not happy with the police handling of the communal situation. President of VHP's Karnavati (Ahmedabad) unit P C Patel says, "We will not tolerate any targeting of our cadres by the police under pressure from the minority community leaders."

News Source : The Times Of India News Service [ Lightning News ]

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Attack on Christians in Gujarat alleged Friday, August 31, 2001

AHMEDABAD: The All India Christian Council has alleged an attack on Christians in Dahod on August 25.

An official press release from national executive member of the council Samson Christian has said women officials and children from the I P Mission orphanage at Jobat village in Madhya Pradesh were on their way for a picnic at Kali dam in Dahod, when they were attacked by the Bajrang Dal and the VHP as well as by the police.

When the children were washing their faces at a hand pump, Bajrang Dal and VHP activists surrounded them, took the keys of their jeeps and allegedly beat up women with sticks. The orphanage officials then went to the local police station, where, Samsom alleges that, instead of registering a complaint, the policemen beat up the women and asked them to leave Dahod immediately.

As the Dahod police have not registered a complaint, a FIR has been filed at the Jobat police station where the orphanage is based.

RAJKOT: The National Human Rights Commission has sought a report from Gujarat chief secretary and director general of police on the alleged harassment of St Mary's School here by a group of the BJP activists. A complaint was faxed to the NHRC by the United Christian Association a few days back.

The association has alleged that the BJP youth wing had been harassing the school for "selfish motives" over a map of India in the school handbook which allegedly showed Jammu and Kashmir as part of Pakistan.

According to school principal Father Thomas, while the map was corrected immediately, the issue was used to malign the school and it was branded as "anti-national" along with other minority institutions.

The association has pointed out that the school had not shown J&K in Pakistan, that actually it was a case of defective outline map brought out by the printer of the handbook. The school authorities when found the error brought it to the notice of the printer and put school sticker on the controversial part and then only the handbooks were distributed.

Fr Thomas regretted that the over zealous BJP leader "conveniently forgot" that maps with similar or more serious defects were in the textbooks in many schools. Fr Thomas asked the BJP youth leader why did they forget about the defect in the national map published by the "BJP Today." Such errors in the maps, he contended were common but St Mary' s school was singled out for attack.

Fr Thomas alleged that the person who found the fault with the school was earlier insisting on promoting a failed student and wanted admission of a few students in the last week of June. When he was told that it could not be done, the youth leader got angry and threatened the institution of dire consequences.

News Source : The Times Of India News Service [ Lightning News ]

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Situation under control in Shahpur Friday, August 31, 2001

AHMEDABAD: The situation in Nagoriwad locality of Shahpur area in the city where one person was killed on Wednesday night when police opened fire to disperse rival groups, was tense but under control Thursday, police said.

Senior police officers were monitoring the situation and additional policemen have been deployed in the area, they said adding the cause of the clash was yet to be ascertained.

Police lobbed 20 teargas shells to disperse the stone-pelting groups in the Walled City area. But when teargas failed to bring the situation under control, police opened fire in which one youth died.

One security personnel was injured in stone pelting, they said.

Parts of the city had been rocked by violence, since August 24, that claimed two lives, prompting the authorities to impose curfew in Dariapur on Saturday, which was lifted on Monday.

News Source : The Times Of India News Service [ Lightning News ]

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Tipnis welcomes plan to set up DPB Friday, August 31, 2001

Source: The Times of India News Service
BARODA: Chief of air staff Air Chief Marshal A Y Tipnis on Thursday welcomed Centre's plan to set up a defence procurement board (DPB) to deal with the entire gamut of major procurement functions in a professional and cost-effective manner.

"Earlier, the three services went through the process seperately. Now they will be under one umbrella structure - which will cut all channels and go straight to the defence minister or defence secretary and setting up of a DPB is good move," Tipnis said.

The air chief was in the city to address a seminar on "Human Resource in ex-Defence Officers" orgainsed by Directorate General, Resettlement (Ministry of Defence).

Defence Minister Jaswant Singh had informed the Rajya Sabha two days ago that the procurement board has been completely revamped and the procurement process would soon be made transparent by posting all the details on the defence ministry website, he told newspersons.

To a query, Tipnis said IAF's MiG series fighter planes are good aircraft and added that MiG crashes are due to failure in adapting to the technology.

In the absence of advanced jet trainers, MiG series fighter planes are used for training, he said.

Tipnis denied reports on delay in defence deals due to Venkataswami Commission investigating the Tehelka expose.

He said the Andaman and Nicobar tri-service strategic command will be established soon which will be country's first joint command controlling all the assets of the armed forces and coast guard in the region.

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'Prevention' best cure, thinks Ahmedabad police Friday, August 31, 2001

Source : The Times of India News Service
AHMEDABAD: The Ahmedabad police may not have conducted any major preventive detentions in the city despite the communal violence in Dariapur, but it does not mind flaunting the increasing number of such arrests over the years.

Since 1994, the police department has been adding to the tally every year the number of people detained as a preventive measure, including under the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act (PASA). The department believes it has been able to bring down the crime rate in the city despite the constantly increasing population, with such measures.

The numbers are staggering when you consider that there is increased awareness regarding human rights over the years and legal experts regularly attack provisions like PASA. In 1994 18,563 persons were put behind bars in preventive action in Ahmedabad (city) alone. There was a comparative fall in 1997 when the number came down to 17,708. Since then it peaked at 25,039 in 1999 coming down to 22,329 in 2000. Till July this year, 13,851 persons in the city have already faced such action.

City Commissioner of Police P C Pande believes these figures reflect that the police has been able to contain the crime rate despite an increase in population.Moreover preventive action is taken for reasons other than communal tension, like a complaint by an aggrieved person that he fears he will be attacked by another person, or for property offences. "When you take all these factors under consideration, I don't think the numbers are too high," Pande adds.

"Only 11,499 heinous crimes were registered in 2000 compared to 12,207 in 1997," says Prevention of Crime branch police inspector Virendra Raval. "We detain people under PASA if more that one crimes are registered against them in cases such as dacoity, robbery, criminal breach of trust, forgery and rioting." Externments have also more than doubled from 146 in 1998 to 351 in 2000.

Once detained the person is send to any jail outside Ahmedabad so that he can not maintain links with his family and gang and Raval believes this has a direct impact on the crime rate. In recent years Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act, illegal cow slaughter, prohibition, gambling and rape have also been included resulting in the increased detentions.

One of the worst to suffer under this new-found zeal for preventive action have been bootleggers. Many of them must have become experts on PASA by now considering the number of times they have been picked up. Kamlesh (Kamli) Dayaram Sindhi has been detained under the Act 11 times, Brij Mohan Rambhan Singh has made it eight times while Haren (Honda) Solanki five times and all of them are in jail currently!

However, not everyone is celebrating the fall in the crime rate. Eminent human rights activist Girish Patel calls such detentions especially under PASA unconstitutional and arbitrary. "A person can be detained under such an act merely on the basis of suspicion, not the confirmation of a crime," he says. It is clearly against Article 21 of the Constitution which guarantees right to life and liberty."

Patel even rejects the claim that such Acts reduce crime. "It is mere hypothesis that preventive detention reduces crime. There can be a number of factors involved. Besides, the authorities have stopped using normal policing methods because they have Acts like PASA."

Police sources also say that the Act is often misused as the High Court can take up cases only after six months due to the heavy backlog. When the cases do come up for hearing, 99 per cent are dismissed. National Students Union of India leader Mihir Shah has been attacking PASA for the last few days as one of his colleagues, Satish Patel from Sabarmati has been taken in under PASA. "This government detains any one it sees as a threat to its rule," he says.

"Satish was detained after a fight between two colonies, no heinous crime. The person who registered a robbery case against him has also accepted that the jewellery was misplaced, not stolen. Yet, Patel was detained.


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