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March 16, 2001 - March 16, 2001

Eight fishing boats captured by Pakistanis Friday, March 16, 2001

RAJKOT: Even as negotiations are on to release 120 Indian fishermen from Pakistani jails, eight Indian fishing boats with 45 fishermen on board were captured recently by Pakistanis, from the sea off Jakhau coast.

All boats belong to Porbander. Convenor of the Gujarat chapter of National Fish Forum Premjibhai Kokhra told TOINS that the men were fishing in Indian waters on March 11 when Pakistani Marine Security officials swooped on them and captured them forcibly. The men were taken away to Pakistan along with their vessels. However, Coast Guard officials denied any knowledge of the incident, when contacted.

Port officials say this is a clear violation of international fishing norms especially when vice-president of the Pakistani Fishermens' Co-operative Society Jamod is in Jamnagar to oversee the release of 160 Pakistani fishermen from Indian jails. The incident has been brought to Jamod's notice.

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Panic grips co-op bank depositors in Vadodara Friday, March 16, 2001

VADODARA: The Kalupur Co-operative Bank witnessed an unprecedented incidence of panic withdrawal of fixed deposit here at its premises on the Old Padra Road on Wednesday. Around 300 investors camped outside the bank premises from 9 am onwards waiting their turn to withdraw their lifetime savings.

The move came following the closure of the Madhavpura Mercantile Co-operative Bank and the news reports they read in the newspapers.

Due to the sheer size of the crowds the J P Road police constables volunteered to help the bank officials in managing the crowds of investors that increased as the day passed by.

According to the police officials the bank intends to remain open overnight to process the applications. "We are listing down the names of the investors who have queued up here outside the gate and giving them a specific time to come to withdraw the fixed deposits. There are 200 investors inside the building already and a hundred more waiting outside," said PSI Jadeja of the JP road police station.

Though a few investors were issued cheques after they waited for more than eight hours in the bank premises there were a large number of investors who were not able to even enter the bank premises due to the crowds.

"We are giving the investors cards with their token numbers on them and telling them to come later at another time to collect their money as it is not possible for the bank officials to process so many fixed deposits at once," said Jadeja.

The branch manager of the bank was not available for comment.

Other city based co-operative banks too were flooded with telephone calls inquiring about the safety of their fixed deposits however they were not accompanied by panic withdrawal of deposits as in case of the Kalupur bank.

However, a few banks reported a rise in the average number of withdrawals that are common on a normal day.

"There were calls from a few anxious people who were worried about their hard earned money. But we have assured them that their savings would not be harmed," said Baroda City Co-operative Bank Ltd branch manager Dushyant Amin. According to him though a few more people also came to withdraw their money these were a mere 5 per cent of their total number of investors.

Similarly the Unnati Co-operative bank ltd which is located near the Madhavpuura Co-operative bank at Raopura too has received inquiries from scared investors who are worried about their lifetime savings in the bank. We received a few inquiries regarding the bank and though there were no crowds here the average number of withdrawals were slightly higher than usual however this could be due to other reasons, said branch manager Rajesh Bhuskut.

According to sources at Anyonya Bank though telephone queries about the safety of the bank deposits were received there were no withdrawal applications.

A hassled depositor at Kalupur bank said they read about co-operative banks closing down in a few areas and therefore rushed to withdraw her money from here. "I came here at 9 am and at 5 p.m. I am still here" she said. This was the complaint of almost all investors. A few 40 odd investors were able to return with cheques after an eight hour wait.

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Kutchis on Indo-Pak border still await relief Friday, March 16, 2001

Nearly two months after the earthquake, Kutchis living in villages close to the India - Pakistan border are still waiting for relief.

A delegation of Kutchis from ten such villages have travelled all the way to Vadodara to ask for food for their cattle and shelter for their families. Maldharis by occupation, these villagers say their livestock -- their only means of survival - is dying of starvation.

"About 8000 cattle in ten villages of border region will die soon. We don't have fodder for them. If the cattle dies, families will also perish. Till date we haven't received any relief from government. There is no food for cattle and no tents for us", says Allana Sale Sama, a panchayat member of Kadhvan village.

Allana has come along with a group of maldharis from Kadhvan, Sakurvandh, Zuna, Hajamvandh, Nan Dediya, Mota Dediya, Peervaas, Tuva, Raibarovaas and Sadara villages of border area in Kutch, also known as Khavda Pachham Vistaar. Houses in these villages have been razed in the earthquake, though there was no large scale loss of lives. Residents say most families live in open under the scorching sun in absence of tents. The few tarpaulins that have reached in the villages are brittle and break due to excessive heat.

"We met the officials in Bhuj. They promised to open fodder depots and sell us cattle feed for Rs 1 a kg. But nothing has happened yet", Allana says. The only relief that these villagers have received is the one time money (between Rs 300 and Rs 1800) given to each family and a 20 kg ration.

"When we informed them that our cattle is dying the officials said we were rich by selling milk and can afford fodder. We sell milk but where are the buyers and where will we get milk from if our cattle dies", asks former Sarpanch of Zuna village Dadha Morh Sama.

Musa Yusuf Maldhari, a resident of Ajamath village, talks of another problem that has restricted movement of Kutchi people in these troubled times. "Normally during this season we migrate with our cattle. But as soon as we live Kutch there are groups who pounce upon us. They call us Pakistanis, tear our identity and migration permission cards and snatch away our animal herd", says Musa Yusuf. He said that about 500 of his cattle were taken to Panjrapol on behest of a cow protection group near Borsad. "We don't kill our cattle. We feed them and sell their milk but they called police and got us beaten. We lost our cattle and had to go back", Yusuf says.

He said that what brought them to this city was the Gujarat Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (GSPCA). "They had visited these villages and supplied some fodder. We thought that this agency might help us save our livestock. We traced their address and reached here", said Sakur Sale of Sakurvandh village.

GSPCA director and noted animal rights activist Snehal Bhatt blames Kutch administration and state government for not providing fodder to villages. "The government thinks that cattle in villages can survive on green fodder. But green fodder has 60 percent water and when cattle consumes it they suffer from diarrhoea. Cattle need a mix of dry and green fodder", Bhatt said. She said that the GSPCA will appeal to donors to supply fodder to the affected villages. "We can take the responsibility of distributing the fodder. We have prepared an inventory of cattle in these ten villages and if donors come forward we can save the livestock which is lifeline for these villagers", Bhatt said.

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Three people sentenced to life imprisonment Friday, March 16, 2001

NADIAD: Three people accused of murder were sentenced to life imprisonment here by the additional sessions judge V C Mandalia. The life term sentence under Sections 235, 302, 201, 120(B) and 34 of the Indian Penal Code also included a fine of Rs 500 each.

THE accused have been identified as Navin D Valand, Yusuf Umar Malek and Mukesh V Patel. One of the four accused Harishbhai Nagajibhai Patel had died before the hearing of the case.

According to the prosecution, a police complaint was lodged by Kantaben M Patel, a widow, whose son Jitu was murdered by the four accused at Kosindra village in Anand district in July 1997. The police then had arrested the four accused, who had strangulated Jitu with a rope and later threw his body in a pond.

Jitu was murdered as he had a love affair with Mukesh Patel's sister Alpa. Mukesh was against Jitu's affair with his sister. So Mukesh and his brother-in-law Harishbhai Nagajibhai Patel approached Yusuf Umarbhai Malek and Navin D Valand of Kosindra village and gave them Rs 6,000 each as part of "supari" to eliminate Jitu. And accordingly Jitu was murdered.

As soon as the judge delivered his verdict, one of the accused threw a slipper on the judge. However, the judge escaped unhurt. The accused later tendered written apology to the judge, who considering the accused's mental make up did not pursue legal action against the culprit.

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Panic grips Palanpur bank account holders Friday, March 16, 2001

PALANPUR: Panic-struck account holders and depositors lined up before the three branches of Palanpur Mercantile Co-operative Bank here on Wednesday following the Madhavpura Mercantile Co-operative Bank crisis in Ahmedabad.

As the news of the payment crisis at the Ahmedabad bank reached here on Wednesday, a large crowd gathered in front of the payment counters of the Palanpur Mercantile Co-operative Bank.

According to bank authorities, depositors withdrew as much as Rs two crore on Wednesday, which according to an observer was an unprecedented affair since the inception of the bank. The bank officials admitted that the bank had over Rs 5 crore deposited with the Madhavpura Mercantile Co-operative Bank.

However, they pointed out that there was no money crisis and the bank was ready to make the payments.

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