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June 1, 2001 - June 2, 2001

Shikhar builder’s bail cancelled Saturday, June 2, 2001

Ahmedabad: Ahmedabad rural court Justice N.J. Gaekwad cancelled the bail application of the builder of Shikhar Apartments Nandu Aggarwal on Friday. The accused in his argument said that he did not participate in the construction of the building. He, however, admitted that when the permission for the construction was given the land belonged to him but while the construction Satish Nyalchand was the owner of the land.

The special public prosecutor Akhil Desai argued that Aggarwal Associates were the constructors of Shikhar Apartments and hence Chiman Aggarwal, Nandu Aggarwal and Satish Nyalchand, all directors of the firm, be held responsible for the collapse of the Shikhar Apartments.

The public prosecutor added that Aggarwal associates also financed Gairatpur Bhagylakshmi Co-operative Society. Satellite police station had booked Nandu Aggarwal under IPC Section 304 for poor construction, which lead to the death of 110 people.
Sandeep Shah, Amrish Vyas and Sunil Patel, builders of Poojan Apartments, were also denied bail by additional sessions judge V.C. Modi.

News Source : The AsianAge Ahmedabad Edition [ The coolest Newspaper for city ]

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Kutch Administration readies to play host to PM Friday, June 1, 2001

BHUJ, June 1: The magnificent structure atop a hill on the Bhuj-Mandvi road was all set for inauguration on January 26 when the quake struck. Like most other structures in Kutch, it also developed cracks.

The extravagant 24-room Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation guest house on the outskirts of the town is now witnessing hectic last-minute repairs as it prepares to host Prime Minister Vajpayee on June 3-4.

Kutch collector H.N. Chibber describes the building as "perhaps the best government guest house anywhere in Gujarat". It is definitely the safest accommodation in Kutch, where thousands of structures have been declared "risky for occupation".

The 12 rooms on the ground floor have been nicely done up for the VVIP and his entourage. The Special Protection Group (SPG), after scrutiny, has ordered some changes from the security point of view.

But while the PM's accommodation may have been taken care of, the state government is wracking its brains over where to put up the hordes of officials who are expected to arrive shortly, if they haven't already.

In a district where almost every structure has developed cracks, there is a paucity of accommodation. Even senior government officials are living in tents for the last four months.

Chibber himself is staying with family in a plastic-cum-concrete structure imported by Reliance Industries Ltd as a sample of quake-proof housing.

DIG (Border Range) A.K. Singh is put up in a tent as all that remains of his official bungalow is the debris. So is Additional SP Himanshu Bhatt.

SP Vivek Shrivastava has rented a second floor 'barsati' belonging to a retired police officer after spending a couple of months in the badly damaged circuit house.

"There is going to be an avalanche of officials. The PMO delegation itself has a strength of around 45 and there are another 40 members of the SPG accompanying the prime minister," points out an official. And scores of officials and ministers are coming in from Gandhinagar.

As a result, hotel rooms and guest houses in towns like Mundra, Gandhidham and Panandro have been taken over by the administration. A large 'dharamshala' run by the Kadva Patel community has also been booked.

Ummed Bhavan, which served as the circuit house in the collectorate compound in Bhuj, has undergone extensive repairs and Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel and his colleagues will be accommodated there.

Patel and his colleagues, including minister-in-charge of Kutch Suresh Mehta, have had the experience of living in tents while on tour to Kutch ever since the quake.

Officials say the PM's visit should not have been much of a problem if Vajpayee had not chosen to stay the night in Kutch. The state government had planned to finish off his engagements during the day and have the PM fly back to Delhi by the evening.

However, the PMO insisted that the tour be spread out over two days as Vajpayee is not really in the pink of health. This has turned Vajpayee's extensive two-day programme into a nightmare for those involved in the logistics, especially security and accommodation. Chibber, however, presents a picture of confidence. "There is no real worry, everything will be taken care of," he assures.

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

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Christian leaders move Rights Commission Friday, June 1, 2001

NEW DELHI/AHMEDABAD: Christian leaders have blamed the local authorities for failing to control a mob that prevented the community members from burying Daudbhai Lazarusbhai Solanki at the Kapadvanj cemetery on Monday.

They have complained to the National Human Rights Commission, expressing shock and anguish at the manner in which a violent mob led by Sangh Parivar activists blocked the burial of the body.

"What is especially disturbing is the attitude of the local civil and police administration who had been told of the burial but failed to discharge their duties in controlling the mob and ensuring the rule of law," Delhi Archbishop and first vice-president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, Vincent Concessao, Church of North India bishop Karam Masih, DSP general secretary James Massey and All-India Christian Council Secretary General John Dayal said in a letter to NHRC chairperson Justice J.S. Verma.

When contacted, DySP R.M. Parmar, who is holding charge of Kheda district, claimed the police had brought the situation under control immediately and lobbed three shells to control the mob.

"The situation would have deteriorated and the police would have had to open fire. So the Christians decided to bury the body in Ahmedabad," said Parmar.

Parmar said that the community had submitted a letter to the mamlatdar stating they were taking the body to Ahmedabad on their own accord.

"That land is reserved for a cemetery in the revenue records but some people who have encroached upon it objected to the burial," said Parmar. The encroachers had reportedly laid down on the road to stop the funeral procession from proceeding.

The Christian leaders urged NHRC to take up the issue with the Gujarat government to ensure that those guilty of the outrage as well as the officials who were derelict in the discharge of their duties were brought to book. Kheda collector BN Joshi was not available for comment.

The Christians told NHRC chairman Justice Verma that the family of the deceased had informed the police about his burial at the local cemetery as a matter of caution, because in 1998 encroachers and local leaders had tried to exhume the body of a Christian. This was despite the fact that the cemetery was in existence for decades and registered in the records.

However, on May 28, when the funeral procession had covered some distance, it encountered a mob which effectively prevented the cortege from being taken any further despite the police accompanying it.

There was an ugly scene at the spot for two hours and Christians were allegedly repeatedly threatened. Later, the body was taken to the police station and there, in the presence of senior police and civil officials, the cemetery committee chairman was threatened by a local Sangh Parivar leader, they said.

"It is a shame that a Christian body was denied the dignity which civilised society gives to its dead," the Christian leaders said. asking the state government to take serious notice of the developments and initiate necessary steps to ensure that the minorities feel safe and secure in Gujarat.

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

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MMCB depositors tell Advani to hurry revival Friday, June 1, 2001

AHMEDABAD: A delegation of depositors from the Madhavpura Mercantile Co-operative Bank (MMCB) met Union home minister L.K. Advani at the Circuit House Annexe on Wednesday.

The depositors had earlier decided to stage a demonstration before Advani but police commissioner P.C. Pande intervened and arranged a tete-a-tete with the minister.

Advani was here to inaugurate the Science City at Hebatpur village in Gandhinagar district. The Navgujarat Banks Customer Protection Council submitted a memorandum in which it criticised the inaction of the authorities and asked the government to revive the bank at the earliest.

The council, in its memo to the home minister, has argued that just as the government had bailed out a couple of nationalised banks in the past by providing money to wipe out of the heavy non-performing assets (NPAs), it should bail out the MMCB in the same way.

It has asked for a special court to be set up to try those involved in the bank scam. This court would be facilitating recovery of some of the siphoned-off funds by attaching and confiscating properties, both movable and immovable, of people involved in the bank scam.

The council has demanded immediate initiation of the process of recovery of dues.The council has added that if need be the land revenue code should be applied.

It has also called for formation of a state-level task force to review the implementation of the package and working of the bank on quarterly basis. It has asked for the council representative to be included in the task force.

They have demanded that the depositors and shareholders should be periodically apprised of the steps taken for the improvement of the bank.

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

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'Hawa mein udta aaye copying material exam ka' Friday, June 1, 2001

By Radha Sharma

AHMEDABAD: It's almost as if the cyclone struck examination halls across the state when the high school exams were on two months ago. Imagine paper chits, guides and dupattas, with answers scribbled all over them, sprouting wings and flying across the examination hall!

No dream sequence this, but just a flimsy defence presented by the students caught copying in the SSC board examination.

Members of the examination committee of the Gujarat Secondary Examination Board (GSEB), hearing the 322 cases of malpractice registered during recently-concluded SSC exams, were left aghast at the alacrity with which the students lied.

Take for example, the girl from Rajkot who was apprehended by the board squad while copying from her white dupatta containing the fine-print of answers scribbled on in blue ink.

When asked to explain her position to the committee, this is how she justified her case. "Saheb, this is not my dupatta. I was writing my exam when strong winds started blowing and this dupatta came flying from somewhere and landed right in my lap. Before I could react, the board member came and caught me. I am innocent, sir."

Unfortunately for her, her earnest pleas did not help because the answers written on her answer-sheet matched what was scribbled on her dupatta word-for-word. The girl was found guilty and barred from giving the examination for two years.

Or consider this boy from Junagadh who was caught copying from a 'guide' red-handed. When asked about this, he countered that the guide was not his and that it had come flying from the window and landed on his table. He went to the extent of saying that this missile had hit him hard in the chest and he was still recuperating from the pain inflicted by the same!

"It is unbelievable the way these kids lie blatantly to save their skin," said examination committee member Bhaskar Patel.

The standard of teaching in rural schools also stood exposed during the hearing when a few of the students charged with copying could not even write a simple explanation in Gujarati. Worse still, one of them did not even know what date or day it was.

These hearings are held before a six-member committee where the accused students are presented with their answer sheets and the copying material confiscated from them and are asked to explain their position.

Depending on how damning the evidence is against the student, he/she is awarded punishment that could range from getting debarred from appearing in exams for one to three years.

Interestingly, committee members point out that students from each of the four zones - Saurashtra, north Gujarat, south Gujarat and central Gujarat -present them with similar, rehearsed excuses.

"In Saurashtra, almost all the students said that the copy-material confiscated from them was not brought in by them but was thrown at them by some other student with a malicious intention," pointed out another board member Jagdish Pandya.

In north Gujarat, the students quickly accept their guilt and ask for forgiveness, whereas in south Gujarat, a majority of then students pass on the blame to teachers alleging that it was they who gave them the material and encouraged them to copy.

"Probably, they all are trained to give this standard reply so that the moved board members would award minimum punishment," said one committee member.

Meanwhile, a number of teachers and supervisors who were caught facilitating mass-copying in exam centres were also summoned. But since the board does not have any powers to punish the teachers found guilty, their cases were handed over to the school management for taking disciplinary action.

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

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