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November 9, 2001 - November 9, 2001

Kutch celeberates Diwali in darkness Friday, November 9, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
Come Diwali and the border district of Kutch used to transform itself . Every corner of the country's second largest district was illuminated as people began preparation a month ahead of Diwali as markets in towns like Bhuj, Gandhidham, Mandvi, Mundra and Rapar hummed with activity. Even in the rural areas one could feel clearly the joy in the air.

But this time, quite expectedly, the scene is different. No one seems interested in celebrating the festival of lights as almost every family in the district has been worsted by the earthquake.

Normal life is still out of gear as many people have been living in temporary shelters with an uncertain future ahead. In the historic town of Bhuj, many areas have become a rubble. Those who lived in Soniwad and Paburai Falia for years are now scattered in different localities .

Many markets of this princely town await repairs. Traditional markets like Danda Bazaar _ the one-time centre of crackers business in Kutch _ wears a deserted look. Similar condition prevails at Shroff Bazar, Soni Bazar, Talao Sheri, Waniawad and Mahrali chowk where 50 per cent of the shops have collapsed or are damaged .

Uncertainty persists about town planning. Merchants keep their shops open but have no customers. Items like greetings cards, calenders, panchang and pocket diaries have no buyers. There is no place to set up crackers market as the Jubilee Ground has given way to the general hospital and district courts while in other open grounds tent colonies have come up.

Gandhidham is faring better compared to other towns as the main market surrounding Zanda Chowk has returned to normal. Here one can feel the festive season as shops keepers have decorated their shops. However, merchants feel that many employees of Kandla Port and other industrial units have gone on vacation and this could hit business.

The situation at Rapar and Bhachau is quite gloomy. Those who have lost someone from their family do not celebrate any festival for one year as per tradition. The scene is better at Mandvi where people have been feeling the absence of the historic Hudia Kotha , the light-house that guided vessels and steamers for centuries. This light-house collapsed in the quake.

According to Arvind H Thacker, president of the Bhuj Chambers of Commerce, the uncertainty over town planning at Bhuj, Anjar, Gandhidham, Rapar and Bhachau has also been causing concern among business community. For example, the Bhid Bazaar of Bhuj, the nerve of all business in Kutch, has been shifted to the market yard while a section of merchants has been demanding restructuring of Bhid Bazaar at its original place.

Trade related to petrol pumps and hotels has been growing after the quake, but all other trade has slumped to 35 per cent, Thacker said. Though the business community all over Kutch is banking on last-minute festival shopping but they may be in for a disappointment.

"We have been selling more white sarees than colourful clothing", says Harjivan Doshi, textile shopkeeper of Bhuj. Even those living in temporary shelters have been placing diyas outside their dwellings in the hope that they would have their own house by next Diwali.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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Metropolitan court in each police station area Friday, November 9, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
The state government is still considering a plan to set up a metropolitan court in each police station area of the city to help out litigants from running from one corner to another for seeking justice.

While talking to TNN here, law minister Hemant Chapatwala said the government has, in principle, decided on setting up a court in each police station area in Ahmedabad where 30 police stations are situated in addition to other branches like Crime branch and the CBI.

Such system has been introduced in Mumbai where several courts are functioning in limits of police station areas and this experiment has yielded desired results, he said.

The proposal was shelved until many representations from various prompted the government to review it. However, the minister did not specify any time frame for the implementation. He clarified that funds could not be a constraint. The government will secure clearance of the proposal from Gujarat High Court.

While referring to the pending problems of Surat city to which he beloned, Chapatwala suggested that the government should in view of increased population of Surat_ nearly 25 lakh_ sanction new police stations and chawkies for smooth maintenance of law and order which has proximity to Mumbai.

"It is high time now that the staff position of Surat city should be reviewed and more police personnel recruited to manage the new industrial areas that have mushroomed on the outskirts of diamond city."

The minister said that another problem which was still hanging fire was that of setting up of a Trade Centre in Surat promised to Surtis by the former chief minister Keshubhai Patel at a function of South Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry during his visit last year.

The government should also make a strong representation before railway minister to concede the long pending demand for laying double track on Surat-Bhusaval section a stretch of around 300 Kms.This will reduce the traffic congestion on existing busy Surat-Vadodara-Delhi route.

The western railway authorities are seized with the problem as Union textile minister Kashiram Rana has on several occasions pleaded for the double track which would help accelerate the development of Golden corridor.

Chapatwala said that he would request Rana to convene a meeting of party Mps and MLAs to discuss the burning problems of South Gujarat region.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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Two inspectors caught red handed taking bribe Friday, November 9, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) sleuths arrested two housing inspectors from Madhapar in Kutch for accepting Rs 1,500 as bribe from an earthquake victim in exchange of a certificate that would qualify him for the state government aid to rebuild his house.

A complaint was lodged with the ACB by Jayantilal Ramji Dudheya, whose house collapsed in the January 26 quake and was categorised under G-4. Two housing inspectors _ Mohanbhai Leelabhai Desai and Rasikbhai Chhaganbhai Baria _ were sent to inspect the site and they demanded Rs 1,500 for the certificate. They said they would collect the money from his house.

The ACB laid a trap at Dudheya's house and caught the inspectors red-handed while accepting the bribe. Desai and Baria were arrested and cases of corruption were registered against them.

Bilimora Customs inspector, constable booked: Two staffers from the Customs department posted at Bilimora were arrested for accepting a bribe of Rs 350 from a fisherman for permitting his boat into the sea. According to the ACB, Hirabhai Bhenkabhai Patel of Dandi, who is a fisherman, wanted permission for his boat, 'Vijay Laxmi', to go to the sea and he approached to the Bilimora Customs office for the necessary clearance. Customs inspector Dharamvirsinh Ramavtar Sharma and constable Amarnath Chhaganbhai Tandel demanded Rs 350 from the fisherman for the clearance. Hirabhai later complained to the ACB and a trap was laid at the Customs office where the two were caught red-handed accepting the money.

an commits suicide: A priest committed suicide by jumping from the terrace of Shrinandnagar Apartments on Tuesday. A case of suicide was lodged at the Vejalpur police station although the police are yet to figure out the exact motive behind the act. The victim, Ashok Ramdaas Rathod, a priest with the Hanuman temple in Dholka, visited one Madhuben Laxmandas staying at Shrinandnagar Apartments around 2 pm and told her that he was their family 'guru' and had performed 'vaastu puja' at her brother-in-law's house three years back. Madhuben offered him tea and gave him Rs 10 as 'dakshina' which he accepted and said that he had to visit other people and would come back.

He went to the terrace instead and jumped shouting 'Jai Bajrangbali' and broke his legs. He was taken to VS Hospital where he was declared dead.

Buffaloes rescued: Vejalpur police arrested six persons and rescued 67 buffaloes which they had brought from Rajasthan for illegal slaughter at Dani Limda. Those held include Mehboob Mohammadhusain, Abdullatif Yusuf Shaikh, Yakub Husainbhai, Abdulkarim Adambhai Meman, Kamruddin Allaudin and Rehmanbhai Akbarbhai.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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BJP bolsters its government at the cost of the organisation Friday, November 9, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
Exactly a month after Chief Minister Modi took charge, while the government may be donning a fresh look, the ruling BJP appears drained of its drive and resources.

The BJP is struggling to find direction following the elevation of state organising secretary Sanjay Joshi as the party's national general secretary and induction of another general secretary, Gordhanbhai Zadaphia, as minister of state for home.

They were the most powerful figures in the organisation along with state BJP president Rajendrasinh Rana.

There is more bad news for the BJP with reports circulating that Rana, MP from Bhavnagar, may also be on his way out. This is particularly disconcerting for party cadres who are gearing up for the crucial elections to nearly 10,000 gram panchayats in late December.

The state BJP functionaries were caught unawares when Sanjay Joshi was suddenly shifted to New Delhi within days of the smooth change of guard in Gandhinagar. An RSS nominee who wielded absolute power in the state BJP, Joshi had taken over the party reins after the banishment of Modi.

Joshi was popular with the cadres though senior BJP leaders had problems with his style of functioning. But nobody would dispute the fact that he had complete information about ground realities in almost every taluka of the state.

Senior BJP functionaries and those of the Sangh Parivar had drawn the attention of the central leadership towards the crisis in the organisation after Joshi and Zadaphia were moved out, but BJP president Jana Krishnamurthy had other ideas. It is believed that Modi plans to overhaul the BJP in his own way, but has kept the cards close to his chest.

The state BJP leaders are eagerly awaiting a replacement for Joshi which is likely to some from the RSS.

Warned a senior BJP leader, "Any delay in the appointment of a new organising secretary will cause immense damage to the party at this crucial juncture when panchayat elections are due next month and assembly elections in 15 months' time."

Some senior BJP leaders owing allegiance to the RSS have recommended the name of Pravin Maniar, one of the most senior RSS leaders, to replace Joshi, but the party is in a dilemma whether he should step into the shoes of someone much junior to him. Maniar, it is felt, will also have problems dealing with Modi.

Another name doing the rounds is that of Bhikhubhai Talsania, organising secretary of Rajkot city BJP. He is in the good books of the Sangh Parivar and has an excellent track record in the organisation.

Ahmedabad BJP president Mayaben Kodnani is also among the list of probables, but party sources feel she has not yet attained that stature. But a section of the RSS leaders is advocating her name.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that the BJP's central leadership has asked Sanjay Joshi to stay for 10 more days in Gujarat even while discharging his duties at the national level.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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Security to be increased at BJ students hospitalised Friday, November 9, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
AHMEDABAD: B J Medical College authorities took some more steps on Wednesday to persuade the students into calling off their indefinite hunger strike even as seven students were admitted to the Civil Hospital with dehydration. More than 100 parents, who have joined their wards in the agitation, have also joined the hunger strike as a protest.

Speaking to TNN, additional dean Usha Shah said they have already received approval from the state government to fill up vacancies for security personnel. The college has also decided to set up separate mess at each of the four blocks of the hostels to reduce skirmishes between the two groups of students, which have brought academic activity to a standstill.

"We have 13 vacancies for security personnel which will be filled up at the earliest," Shah said. "In fact, we are planning to double the number of such personnel and have already received approval for it." The tenders for the new canteens will also be issued soon.

However, the authorities have refused to concede to the main demand of the A, C and D block students _ which is suspension of 11 students from the B block, whom they allege have been responsible for the violence. "We have already suspended 14 students from the hostel for six months," dean K V Bhatt said. "We cannot take any further action until the police inquiry is completed." The internship of five students has also been extended by 15 days as a punishment, he added.

A and D block students, on the other hand, remained adamant and are not ready to call off the strike until the 11 students are suspended from the college for a semester. Of the seven admitted to the hospital, two are girls. They agreed to taking drips only at 5 pm on Wednesday even though they were admitted on Tuesday. "It is important for us to feel that the culprits have been punished and justice delivered," one of the students said.

They have decided to keep sitting on the college lawns and to continue with the strike despite the Diwali vacation beginning from Thursday onwards. The students say they will continue with the agitation even if the college remains closed.

B block students, accused of the violence, insist the matter is being stretched unnecessarily. They believe students on both sides have been adequately punished and that the strike should be called off. "The A and D block students come up with a longer list of students for suspension each day, which is not acceptable," a student representing the B block said. "We want peace now," the student added.

However, additional dean Shah insists suspension and rustication are long processes with approvals required both from the Gujarat University as well as the state government. "For the moment we are waiting for the report of the police investigation. As soon as they give us their findings, we will take action," she says.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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