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November 7, 2000 - November 8, 2000

Former Jamnagar mayor attacked Wednesday, November 8, 2000

JAMNAGAR: Former mayor of the Jamnagar Municipal Corporation and prominent BJP leader Rajubhai Seth was attacked by three people at his residence here late on Monday.

During civic elections, Sheth had selected candidates for the BJP. At that time, one Rajesh Harilal Bhanushali had sought the party's candidature for ward number 16 but his name was not considered. Finally, he contested as an independent but lost his deposit.

For taking revenge, Sunil Bhanushali, brother of the candidate, who is an employee of the corporation, went to Sheth's residence with two constables, Anupsinh Jethva and Ajitsinh Jadeja of the city A division police station and one Harish Chimanlal Mehta, who runs a canteen in the corporation premises.

They allegedly attacked Sheth with a knife after calling him out of his house. He received blows on his face and other parts of the body and was threatened.

Since two constables were involved, effort were made to contact the DSP but he was not available. On a complaint filed by Sheth, all the four have been arrested and will be produced in a court.

lOn information, leaders of the BJP rushed to Sheth's residence and condemned the incident.

Farmers to rally against power-tariff hike on Nov 20 Wednesday, November 8, 2000

SURAT, NOV 8: Farmers from Gujarat have organised a mammoth rally in Surat on November 20 as a protest against the hike in electricity tariff proposed recently by the Gujarat Electricity Board (GEB) in the agricultural sector.
The decision was unanimously taken in the khedut samaj meeting which was held in Bardoli last Saturday. Gujarat State Farmers Association president, Bipinbhai Desai, Surat District Farmers Association president, Karsanbhai Patel, Surat District Co-operative Federation president, Bhikhabhai Patel, Surat District Co-operative Bank vice-president Dilipbhai Bhagat among other prominent farmer leaders remained present at the meeting.

While speaking on this occasion, Bipinbhai Desai said that there was no competition between the industrial and agricultural sectors in Gujarat. Both the sectors have opposed the recent electricity tariff hike proposed by the GEB. A whooping 34 per cent electricity has been wasted through electricity theft to the GEB.

He said that the hike should be reconsidered as scores of farmers in the state would be forced to terminate their farming activities in the near future. However, he added that the time has come to reveal anger against the Government's inaction to terminate or reduce the proposed hike for both sectors.

Surat district Co-operative Federation leader Vrajlalbhai Patel said that industrial units steal electricity on a large-scale but the GEB has turned a blind eye to it. Several spinning mills had to shut down due to the steep increase in the electricity tariff and if the tariff hike is not re-considered the agricultural sector would have to undergo the same fate, he said. He added that a detailed programme had been chalked out with the view of opposing the tariff hike.

He said that several meeting will be held to garner support from scores of farmers in the rural areas. Giving details, he said that from November 7 to November 16, meetings will be held to chalk out an action plan at Mangrol, Umarpada, Kim, Palsana, Olpad, Kamrej and Chauriyasi talukas of Surat district. Farmers from the rural areas of South Gujarat will remain present in these meetings.

Charges framed against Union minister, 9 BJP leaders Wednesday, November 8, 2000

AHMEDABAD: Charges have been framed against state health minister Ashok Bhatt and Union minister of state for defence (production) Harin Pathak and others in the city civil and sessions court for unlawful assembly, injury to policemen on duty, attempt to murder and murder during the communal riots on April 22, 1985.

According to details of the case, following complaints against the police a writ petition was filed and the Gujarat High Court appointed a commission to inquire into the matter. Orders were issued by the commission preventing some of the police officers, including RK Vashishtha from entering the Raipur area.

It has been charged that while the commission was inquiring into the matter, a police constable Laxman Jabbabhai Desai was attacked and killed by a mob with sharp-edged weapons while another Ratiram Yadav, was injured.

Apart from the minister, charges were also framed against BJP corporator Mayur Dave, former corporator Ghanshyam Mehta, and BJP workers Kiran Shah, Nansha Thakore, Babubhai Mehtabsingh Thakore, Dhruvkumar Vyas, Madhukar Vyas, Paresh Dhanadekar and Vijay Shah, alias 'Laambo', have been accused of provoking a mob leading to the attack on policemen and Home Guard personnel on duty. They were charged with making provocative speeches in the Pakhali ni pol area of Raipur.

Some of the offences registered against them include unlawful assembly, rioting involving use of lethal weapons, voluntarily causing grievous hurt to deter public servants from their duty, provoking a mob, attempting to murder and murder.

After police carried out investigations and a complaint was filed by the then deputy commissioner of police J Mahapatra against them, were the charges framed on Tuesday in the court of additional city civil and sessions judge Sonia Gokani.

When asked by the court whether the charges read out against them were correct or not, they replied in the negative. Now the evidences will be presented in the court when the next hearing takes place on November 23.

Public prosecutor in charge L H Patel appeared on behalf of the state government. The court however, dismissed an application filed by advocate BM Gupta to join in the case as the third party. Gupta had appealed that seeing the larger public interest in the case he wanted to join in it, which the court refused as not having locus standi.

Court to arbitrate water supply frequency - Vadodara Tuesday, November 7, 2000

VADODARA: A parched city, in the throes of a severe water crisis, will be looking forward to the district court judgment on Monday that will decide the water supply pattern to the city.

The joint district judge will hear an appeal by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) on Monday against a lower court order, asking it to supply water twice a day till November 9. The VMC had decided to cut down water supply to the city to once a day from November 6.

On Thursday, civil judge MD Bhatt had issued an interim injunction to the VMC on one-time water supply and had directed it to continue with two-time supply till November 9. The interim stay was issued on a petition filed by advocate Chetan Gore.

The VMC had then appealed to the joint district judge, seeking suspension of the interim injunction. The hearing has been scheduled for Monday.

Deputy municipal commissioner (administration) HS Patel said that the appeal was made on the basis that the order is "ultra vires" as there is no availability of water due to scanty rainfall. "The situation is beyond the control of the corporation," said Patel.

Municipal commissioner GR Aloria too said the VMC supplied water twice a day till it could manage. "It's beyond our control now. It is not possible, as there is not enough water. However, such decisions should be taken by the executive," he added.

Meanwhile, the standing committee has suggested that the VMC should increase the number of water distribution zones so that water can be supplied for a longer period and with greater pressure. Members believe that this will help ease the pressure on the people when supply is reduced to once a day. At present, there are five distribution zones in the city.

BJP infighting boon for Opposition in SMC - Surat Tuesday, November 7, 2000

SURAT: Simmering discontent between the Hajuria and Khajuria factions of the BJP in the Surat Municipal Corporation appears "advantage Opposition" if undercurrent moves by both factions in the wake of ongoing tussle between former mayor and Khajuria leader Fakir Chauhan and city BJP chief Praveen Naik, belonging to the Hajuria group, are any indication to go by.

Congress spokesman Bhupendra Solanki told The Times of India that the party has decided to move a no-confidence motion to cash in on any split in the BJP in the corporation.

Leaders of the Khajuria group are in touch with the Congress corporators and a new alignment could be achieved with the party supporting the Khajuria faction of the BJP. "Six corporators of the SMC are being wooed by the Hajuria group for support," alleges Solanki.

In the 99-member corporation, the BJP has 59 corporators of which 21 belong to the Khajuria faction. The Congress has 26 corporators in the 40-member combined opposition.

The city BJP sources said that corporators belonging to the Hajuria group had demanded suspension of Chauhan from membership of the party on the issue of stopping 20 corporators of the Khajuria group from attending the general board meeting of the corporation.

On the other hand, the Khajuria leaders want that Naik should be shown the door for resorting to autocratic manoeuvres in issuing a notice to senior leader and municipal finance board chairman Fakir Chauhan at the general board meeting.

Meanwhile, the Congress has urged SMC commissioner GP Mahapatra to issue a directive to the BJP to hold elections for chairmen and deputy chairmen of various sub-committees.

City Congress chief Pratapsinh Kantharia says that infighting between Hajuria and Khajuria factions of the BJP has affected the corporation's functioning.

In case elections for chairmen and deputy chairmen are not conducted soon, the Congress will drag the issue to the high court for judicial intervention. "A similar situation emerged in 1995-97 and the high court had to be approached for directive," said Solanki. Within two weeks, sub- committees were constituted, he added.

As per Bombay Provincial Municipal Act (BPMA), panels and sub- panels could be formed with one-year term in view of continuance of civic works in the city, explains Kantharia.

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