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July 16, 2001 - July 16, 2001

BJP holds Lok Darbar in Ahmedabad Monday, July 16, 2001

By A Staff Reporter, The Times of India news service
AHMEDABAD: The BJP on Sunday held a Lok Darbar to hear and settle the problems and grievances of voters in Ellisbridge constituency as part of its new strategy to revive contact with the electorate.

The Lok Darbar was represented by minister of state for home Haren Pandya.

A large number of people comprising of housewives and senior citizens came out with their complaints pertaining to civic apathy including illegal constructions and increasing menace of stray cattle in Paldi and other wards of the assembly.

The residents of more than 400 housing societies and other delegations and individuals made a strong representation before Pandya and other corporators and party functionaries from Paldi and Ellisbridge wards, which included Deepak Bhatt, Rakesh Shah, Sudhaben Desai and Bhavin Sheth.

Some people present at the Mehndi Nawaz Jung Hall also complained about the non-payment of financial assistance announced by the state government for those who had suffered in the earthquake.

However, the aggrieved people also hailed the efforts made by Pandya for holding the first Lok Darbar in the city and wished that the practice should be continued in the larger interests of the people.

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

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New form of intoxication baffles Nadiad police Monday, July 16, 2001

The Times of India News Service
NADIAD: While some youths are addicted to drugs like brown sugar, heroin, opium others like Raju Bijal Vaghari (19) and Vijay Santosh Kevat (19) were addicted to something else.

Nadiad railway PSI B R Machhi, and two constables Dhirubhai Ahir and Bachubhai Gohil found to their horror that these two chain snatchers, from whom jewellery worth Rs 24,000 was found, also possessed two bottles containing correction fluid and dilution.

The two youths used to suck or inhale the liquid of the two bottles by mixing them in handkerchief and putting into their mouth. They inhaled it like cigarette or tried to extract the essence of the substance in fluid form.

They confessed that after having such a dose they found themselves intoxicated and to fulfill their needs they took to crime. It was a cheap way of intoxication for the price of a bottle at a stationery dealer was Rs 20 and Rs 6.50, respectively.

However, the warning was clearly mentioned on the bottles: Do not drink or inhale. This can be harmful, even fatal. It is high time awareness is created among youths that they should keep themselves away from such type of addiction, added Machhi.

Earlier, the Nadiad railway police detained five boys under 10 years who had adopted the same modus operandi to get intoxicated, i.e., inhaling fluids through a handkerchief.

On Sunday, the police detained Chinna Ramaiya of Nellore in AP who also adopted the same technique. Chinna also confessed he consumed the same fluid through inhalation.

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

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Destination Mount Abu for Congress corporators Monday, July 16, 2001

By Civic Reporter, The Times of India News Service
AHMEDABAD: It is a weekend sans mobile phones without humdrum office work at the back of their minds, and away from home for 20-odd Congress corporators at the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation.

But it is not any picturesque locale or a sudden urge to picnic that has drawn these corporators away from the city, Congress insiders reveal that the trip is likely to give impetus to the anti-mayor campaign at the AMC.

"They are using this well-publicised trip to do some arm-twisting and pressurising the ruling Congress at AMC since they have been sidelined by the mayor and chairman of the standing committee," said an AMC corporator just before leaving for Mount Abu late on Friday evening.

Though senior Congress leader and former deputy chief minister of Gujarat Narhari Amin said that "they are taking a break. There are no strings attached with this trip to Mount Abu", but rumours of this being a pressure tactic gains credence with reference to an tte--tte between Congress corporators of AMC and the state party supremo Amarsinh Chaudhary.

Sources disclosed: "The meeting turned into a complaint session when Congress corporators passionately came out with their grievances against not having a say in the functioning of the AMC. They told Chaudhary that their suggestions and recommendations to better civic amenities in different wards were scarcely given any importance by the corporation's authorities."

The outcry follows anonymous anti-mayor letters which were posted to Congress corporators. The letters called upon the corporators to unite against Mayor Himmatsinh Patel, who was too busy serving himself than to look at their problems.

The letter painted Patel in poor light and called upon the corporators to work for freeing the Congress and the city from rule of Patel and his coterie.

"The trip is being viewed as one where an action plan will be drawn up to oust the mayor. After nine months of inaction the corporators may be ganging up to get their way done in the municipal corporation, by force if necessary," said a source.

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

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Consumer rights curricula for schools, colleges Monday, July 16, 2001

By A Staff Reporter, The Times of India News Service
VADODARA: Issues relating to putting in place a legislation to protect interests of investors and introducing study of consumer rights in school and college curricula were discussed at the MS University's faculty of social work here where a two-day seminar on 'Grahak Suraksha Chintan Shibir' was organised.

Minister for consumer affairs Liladhar Vaghela, who inaugurated the session on Saturday, said they have proposed to the ministry of education to introduce the subject of consumer rights and protection at the school and college level. The idea, he said, is to increase public awareness about consumer rights and avoid exploitation.

On Sunday, the consumer forum had organised a book release programme at the faculty of social work, MS University. Manubhai Shah, the pioneer of consumer movement in the state, inaugurated the book 'The Law Humble', written by Sohansingh Miglani. Baroda Bar Association president Narendra Tiwari was the chief guest on the occasion.

In his inaugural session on Saturday, Vaghela said the state government is committed to the cause of consumer protection and plans are afoot to ensure that by March 2002 the number of consumer grievances redressal forums would increase from 52 to over a 100.

CERC director Manubhai Shah said there is a need to formulate special laws within the framework of the Consumer Protection Act to protect the interests of the investors and depositors who are victims of financial scams. There are many small investors in Gujarat who have been victimised and need protection, he said.

Jagrut Grahak president Ramanbhai Patel and faculty of social work dean Anil Navle highlighted the need to strengthen the consumer protection movement.

Other guests present on the occasion were Prasan Mehta, PS Rao, HK Das and RK Garg. Many speakers stressed the need to create awareness about consumer protection in remote villages so that they too can avoid being exploited.

Despite the rule that consumer grievances should be resolved within 90 days, most cases in the consumer forums in the state are delayed and cases are pending for more than nine years at many forums in the state.

Vaghela said he is aware that such problems existed but these were due to lack of staff at many forums. "We are now recruiting staff so that the state consumer forums can work efficiently and the backlog of pending cases can be resolved," he added. The seminar was organised by the Jagrut Grahak and the MSU faculty of social work.

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

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Police obtain crucial evidence in ISD scam Monday, July 16, 2001

By Sajid Shaikh, The Times of India news service
VADODARA: City police have laid hands on the record of telephone numbers on which calls were made between January 1 2001 and till the time when the multi-crore ISD scam was busted.

The record sheet has been obtained from BSNL, Mumbai, and has telephone numbers running into thousands.

While R.T. Sharma, kingpin of the Rs 22 crore ISD scam, and his coterie manipulated the console terminal in Makarpura exchange to bypass ISD billing, all phone calls made illegally were recorded via satellite in BSNL headquarters in Mumbai. This record was stored on a hard disc in form of electronic data.

The police had sought data of those telephone calls from BSNL Mumbai. The data was obtained this week.

Police are also in the process of getting similar telephone record sheet of ISD calls made before January 1 2001. Police expect to get the second record sheet in a fortnight.

Meanwhile the telephone records currently obtained from BSNL Mumbai are being scrutinised to ascertain whether anti-national elements had taken advantage of the illegal facilitation of ISD calls provided by Sharma and Co, highly placed police sources told TOI.

"It is a tedious process to scan the telephone record sheet that we have procured from BSNL, Mumbai. But we are determined to invest time and technical expertise to extract as much information as we can", said senior police officer wishing anonymity.

A rough estimate disclosed to TOINS by the city police pegs the number of ISD calls made since January 1 2001 through Makarpura Fetex exchange at over 30,000! Most of these calls have been made to Middle East and Gulf countries. There are also a couple of phone calls made to African and European countries, police sources said.

"This fact sheet of telephone numbers is yet another crucial evidence that we have collected. It strengthens our case against the perpetrators of the ISD scam", said a police officer.

Police have already traced eight international agents appointed by the gang hand picked by Sharma. Salim was appointed as an agent in Saudi Arabia, David, Geeta, Suresh and Johnny were appointed in Muscat while in Kuwait Babubhai and Sobha worked as agents.

They were identified by code words given to them by the gang running the illegal exchange in a small house Manjalpur.

International agents fed a list of Indians in Gulf countries their names and telephone numbers. A list of telephone numbers and addresses of relatives of those employed in Gulf countries were also furnished.

Caller and called parties were given fixed time slots and ISD calls were sold for Rs 200 per 10 minutes to Indian parties. Agents in Middle East and Gulf countries had their own system of commission and charging customers. They charged 20 per cent less than the billing rates of their respective countries.

Between 1995 and 2001 about Rs 22 crore were transacted through 'hawala' (Vishnu Kanti Angadiya Pedhi in Vadodara). Police said this money was pocketed by Sharma, his accomplices Kiran Rana, Shailesh Chandpure and Suresh Mahurkar.

A part of the money thus earned was given to Kalpesh Shah, Ashish Modi, Amit Bhatt, Jayesh Patel, Ketan Joshi and Kaushik Patel - who ran the illegal exchange on behest of Sharma and Co.

While police have already arrested Mahurkar, Shah, Modi, Bhatt, J Patel and K Patel; Sharma, Rana and Chandpure are still absconding. Significantly BSNL's actual loss due to the ISD scam touches Rs 100 crore.

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

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