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August 30, 2001 - August 31, 2001

Timely action averts fire tragedy Friday, August 31, 2001

VADODARA: Timely action by district police and administration averted a major fire tragedy that otherwise had the potential to endanger the lives of some 5,000 people of Aati village of Padra taluka here.

Villagers at Aati woke up to a rude midnight after hearing a 'blast' like sound around 1.30 am on Wednesday. The sound came from a nearby pipeline of GAIL where gas was gushing out at a monstrous rate. The pipeline originated from Dabka and was carrying 'natural gas'.

It was later learnt that somebody had tried to pilfer contents of the GAIL pipeline but fled due to the ear-piercing sound that woke up the entire village.

A police mobile from Padra was rushed to Aati village even as an emergency message was sent to district collector Bhagyesh Jha and superintendent of police Keshav Kumar.

"The leakage was in full flow. Our first priority was the safety of villagers. Policemen went in jeeps and informed villagers not to light 'bidis' or 'cigars' or try to switch on the cooking stove. We simultaneously informed the ONGC after knowing that some of their pipelines pass through the region," Kumar told TNN.

He confirmed that the leak occurred when miscreants tried to pilfer contents of the pipeline.

The police arrested one Karnelsingh Kartarsingh Dhillon and confiscated a ten-wheeler tanker and an Armada jeep which were kept near the sight where pilferage was attempted.

Police suspect that there were over six other persons with Dhillon in the pilferage operation that escaped before police could reach the spot of crime. Dhillon has confessed to his crime, and has revealed names of Amarsingh Rathod, Mahesh alias Manoj alias Fauji and Chhotu Amarsen.

Incidentally, Karnelsingh was also involved and arrested for pilferage crime at Ankodia village in Vadodara taluka. He and his accomplices had tried to puncture an ONGC pipeline for crude oil. Police suspect the same gang's involvement in Aati village pilferage attempt.

"They had fixed a clap and nozzle and tried to pilfer the content of the pipeline. A tanker was parked in vicinity and prior arrangements were made to commit the crime and escape," Kumar said.

He said the police thought that the pipeline that was carrying Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) was mistaken for carrying crude oil. However, this theory was cleared when experts from ONGC confirmed though the pipeline was carrying natural gas it had a sizeable amount of 'condensate' which is a 'petrol like substance' used as a substitute solvent.

"This condensate settles at the bottom of the pipeline. These thieves knew this fact and hence tried to pilfer it," said a senior ONGC engineer. He confirmed that the particular pipeline was laid by the ONGC but was currently managed by GAIL. ONGC had handed over the pipeline to GAIL in early 1990s, he said.

District collector Bhagyesh Jha too confirmed the incident and said that adequate precautions had been taken. "The a gas leak incident at Aati village reported at 2.30 am. I called up ONGC and asked them to send their team to check the leakage. I also spoke to GAIL as it was brought to my notice that GAIL also has some pipelines in the area. By 6.30 am the leakage was brought under control," Jha said.

The police have registered an offence under sections 379, 427, 511 and 114 of the Indian Penal Code, damage to public properties act 3(2) and Indian Petroleum Pipeline Act section 15(2).
PSO's timely action: Padra police station officer Shridhar Budhabhai Patel's quick thinking led to the arrest of one of the oil pilferers and confiscation of two vehicles brought for the pilferage operation.

Patel was on night duty when he received a panic call from Aati village. Patel acted swiftly and informed a PSI and send a message to the district SP. The PSI reached the spot and nabbed Kernalsingh. Eventually, the police had enough time to assess the situation and use the public address system of a mosque to give guidelines to people to not use matchsticks to light cigars, bidis or stoves.

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

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Two Congress MLAs suspended till Friday Friday, August 31, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: Two Congress MLAs, Gunvant Makwana and Premjibhai Vadlani, representing Bavla and Viramgam constituencies in Ahmedabad district were suspended from the Assembly till August 31 for staging a demonstration in the Well of the House even after repeated warning from Speaker Dhirubhai Shah not to do so.

The members tried to draw the attention of the ruling party by wearing masks in protest as they did not want to speak. They wanted to focus the attention of the government towards the plight of the farmers over the issue that the irrigation authorities had refused to release water in Fatehwadi irrigation canal passing through the district.

The standing paddy crop apparently was withering for want of water and this would prove disastrous for paddy growers. The banner shown by the members in the House said that the farmers would commit mass-suicide if water was not released.

Some farmers from Ahmedabad who shouted slogans from the public gallery were nabbed by the police and were kept in custody for a day for indiscipline.

The speaker pulled up the members for such demonstration which amounted to insult of the House. State parliamentary affairs minister also criticised the protesting members' action.

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

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Recent riots expose poor surveillance Friday, August 31, 2001

AHMEDABAD: When an organisation called Muslim Youth Association gave a call for a bandh in the city on Friday, the police did not know anything about this outfit and hardly took notice of the strike call. It dismissed the bandh call on the basis that even the Muslim Vyapari Mandal had given it in writing to the police that it would not support the strike.

But a surprise was in store for everybody, including the State Intelligence Bureau, when the bandh evoked an overwhelming response and even turned violent, leading to imposition of curfew for three days in Dariapur.

It now turns out that hundreds of pamphlets were circulated in the minority-dominated areas and the preparations for the bandh were elaborate. And while police officials are now discussing the failure of the intelligence network in the state, an intelligence official said, "All our intelligence gathering is through our police force. We haven't developed a network of paid agents because we don't want to spend money on getting vital information."

The officials says that the entire police force spends barely Rs 1.5 lakh every year on payments to informers. The amount comes to around Rs 12,000 every month for all the 25 districts!

But lack of resources is not the only problem plaguing the intelligence gathering establishment in Gujarat Police. Officials engaged in policing and intelligence gathering admit that it is very difficult for a man in uniform or a plain-clothed policeman to gather intelligence, apart from the fact that they are hardly trained in surveillance. "Intelligence is the job of intelligent people. The kind of personnel we have in the police force hardly know how to be discreet and carry out a covert operation," an official said.

The state IB chief G C Raigar said he had "a reasonable apparatus" to gather intelligence and gauge such events. "On most occasions we are accurate, but one must realise that intelligence is a difficult job. It is difficult to predict the human mind, especially if it is up to some mischief," he said.

"Be it the Bajrang Dal or organisations like SIMI, we should have insiders who have penetrated deep inside these outfits providing us information," says another official. He says it is easier to keep tab on militant Hindu organisations because "they are normally more open about their plans and shout from roof-tops." However, with an array of Hindutva organisations from the RSS and VHP to Bajrang Dal, things can become complicated because there is no clear line of command or organisational uniformity.

In the case of Muslim outfits, there is a lot of "general intelligence" but very little "operational intelligence". Giving an example, an official said, "A lot has been said about the growing number of Islamic madrasas in border areas of Kutch, but we have no idea of what is being taught there."

Police officials say that when it comes to the minority community, even if there are people who are upset with the goings on within the community, they would not like to report it to the authorities who lack credibility. Police officials also feel that with new outfits like SIMI and now the Muslim Youth Association taking charge of the situation, the police needs to develop new channels of information because the older leadership _ which remained largely in the hands of the Congress _ was no longer in control of the community.

"We all realise that it is not the common man who sparks off a communal riot. It has to have an individual or organisational backing, and these centres of trouble need to be identified because they are changing fast," says one official.

Ahmedabad Police Commissioner P C Pande, however, denied that there was any intelligence 'failure' as far as the bandh and the subsequent riots last week were concerned. "There is nothing that is not known to us. We realise that a new leadership is trying to emerge creating social pressures which will manifest themselves in violence," he said.

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

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Probe ordered into trainee PSI's charges Thursday, August 30, 2001

VADODARA: Additional DGP (training) S S Khandwavala has ordered an inquiry into the allegations levelled by a lady trainee PSI that she was harassed by her instructor at Gujarat Police Academy at Karai.

"We have taken a note of the allegations against the instructor and ordered an inquiry," Khandwavala told TNN from Gandhinagar.

The lady trainee PSI, daughter of a DySP in State Reserve Police force, had alleged that a particular instructor at the GPA made her go through harsh physical drills despite her being in a certain medical condition. The trainee PSI had also alleged that the said instructor made surprise checks in her room which she had objected to.

Khandwavala, however, said the allegations were being scrutinised and the instructor concerned, who is alleged to have harassed the trainee, was being questioned.

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

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Action sought against rape accused Thursday, August 30, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: The alleged rape of a 17-year-old college girl of Morbi in Rajkot district by a professional photographer and his friends last week had its echo in the Assembly when members demanded stern action against the accused and compensation to the victim who had boldly approached the police and filed a complaint.

Minister of state for home Haren Pandya, while replying to a debate on the calling-attention motion by the members from Morbi and other constituencies from Rajkot district, announced that nine of the 14 accused had been arrested, which included two prime accused who were history-sheeters.

Pandya said the government had taken a serious view of the incident and had decided to appoint a special public prosecutor to handle the case so that the accused were punished at the earliest.

The police have received all vital clues about the incident in which the girl was enticed by the photographer who later on raped her in his studio at Morbi. Some of his friends also forced the college girl to submit to their lust.

The minister said the police would arrest the remaining accused who could be somewhere in Rajkot district. The government, he said, would take stern action against the accused as the incident had created ripples in the society.

Meanwhile, the Rajkot district police have intensified patrolling at the campus and hostel area as the victim was living in the Patel Kanya Chhatralay. Two members, Jasumatiben Korat and Rekhaben Trivedi, pleaded that the government should hasten up action as normally prosecution in rape cases takes long.

Congress member Subhash Shelat was opposed by BJP members when he tried to say that the incident was contrary to the government's claim that the crime rate in the state had come down.

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

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