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November 1, 2000 - November 3, 2000

Rs 2.95 lakh looted in two incidents Friday, November 3, 2000

RAJKOT: Armed desperadoes took away Rs 2.95 lakh in cash in two incidents of looting in Rajkot district on Wednesday night.

A gang of 10 criminals swooped on a petrol pump at Kuvadva on the outskirts of the city and took away Rs 1.50 lakh in cash. This is third incident of petrol pump looting this year.

According to police, the gang members pelted stones on the petrol pump to scare away employees and customers before taking away the cash taking advantage of the confusion. They had locked some employees in the cashier's cabin.

On getting information, police rushed to the place and took statements of employees. According to cashier Batuk Rana Boricha, five members of the gang, dressed in blue shirts, entered the petrol pump from the rear gate while the rest five resorted to heavy stoning from the front gate.

The cashier and other employees were busy counting the day's collection when they heard somebody locking the door. Manager of the petrol pump Narendrasinh Zala was inside the cashier's cabin. The gang members then asked them to hand over the cash or face death. Scared to the hilt, they handed over the cash to the criminals who escaped easily.

Meanwhile, the police have sealed borders of the district. A search operation has been launched to nab the gang members who might be hiding in some nearby village.

In another incident, an unknown person entered the house of Jivraj Nanabhai Patel, living all alone in Fulwadidhori area in Jetpur town, on Wednesday night and took away Rs 1.45 lakh from the drawer of his table. He had administered chloroform on Jivrajbhai to make him unconscious.

When he regained consciousness at midnight, he informed his sons about the incident. A police complaint has been filed and a case of looting registered. Further investigations are going on.

City BSP chief kills man, surrenders Friday, November 3, 2000

RAJKOT: City unit Bahujan Samaj Party chief Vijay Somabhai Parmar shot dead one Ajitsinh Jadeja at point blank range here on Thursday morning over a personal enmity, police said.

Parmar, who runs a fortnightly Bahujan Itihaas, fled on his moped soon after killing 30-year-old Jadeja on University Road but surrendered at the taluka police station, they said.

Even as the police were investigating the case at the site of the murder, Parmar came riding his cycle to the police station and gave himself up. He also deposited the revolver used in the crime.

Parmar, who was arrested immediately, said he was going to office in the morning and had stopped at a pan shop where Jadeja, with whom he had had a fight over filling water a few days ago, passed by and used abusive language. Enraged, the BSP leader pulled out his revolver and shot Jadeja dead before leaving for his office on Ring Road.

Parmar told the police that during the argument over filling water from a standpost Jadeja, who belonged to Halol near Vadodara, had sided with a Rabari and had even gone to his house and abused his parents on October 21. He said he had lodged a police complaint in this regard.

About the revolver, he said he had got it from a party worker in Lucknow, where he had gone for the Bahujan Samaj Party rally. Parmar has unsuccessfully fought a Lok Sabha election.

Meanwhile, police suspects an old enmity over a land deal could also be a cause of the murder.

They said Jadeja was going to a laundry when he was attacked. Eyewitnesses said Parmar fired a single shot from his revolver after which Jadeja collapsed on the spot. The assailant was dressed in white, they said.

Almost all shops in the vicinity downed their shutters "to avoid any harassment".

Meanwhile, the police is also investigating another angle of the case. Jadeja's father had opened a showroom of a scooter company on Gondal road in partnership recently. However, Jadeja had broken the partnership, police sources said, adding they did not rule out "some problem over financial dealings in the final transactions".

Jadeja had returned to Rajkot only on Wednesday night. He had gone to Halol to drop his wife, Dakshaba, and his six-year-old son Nemiraj.

Flag meters remain elusive Friday, November 3, 2000

AHMEDABAD: Though the three-month ``grace period'' provided by the transport department to rickshaw drivers for installing flag meters expired on Wednesday, just about 2,000 of the total 55,000-odd autorickshaws have had flag meters fitted.
Chances of more autos installing these meters seem bleak as the rickshaw union has claimed in a letter to the transport department that most drivers do not have enough money to purchase flag meters.

The Ahmedabad Autorickshaw Co-operative Society Limited, the biggest rickshaw union in the city, has also written to the government saying that it should provide them loans to install flag meters and sales tax exemption.

A flag meter costs approximately Rs 2,500 and fitting every rickshaw with such meters will cost the drivers about Rs 13.75 lakh. In contrast, one Yenkay meter costs about Rs 250 and these are being used by rickshaw drivers here for the past 35 years.

Interestingly, after the recent hike in petroleum prices, the union applied for a revision in the fares and a notification was also issued to this effect a week ago. However, all the fare cards are for the Yenkay meters, that are illegal as far as the government is concerned.

Regional Transport Officer (RTO) K M Makwana said that now that the deadline had passed and very few rickshaws had installed meters, checking would be carried out. ``But the RTO is also severely understaffed and most inspectors spend most of the time issuing driving licences People should write to us giving the number of the rickshaws so that we can seize them,'' he said.

``It was the union which took the initiative in installing meters way back in 1963 and the RTO approved them. Now, when most have Yenkay meters, they are forcing us to install flag meters, which is simply not possible given the financial position of rickshaw drivers,'' general secretary of Ahmedabad Autorickshaws Co-operative Society Mahendra Dave told Express Newsline.

He further added that if flag meters had to be installed, the government must waive sales tax and provide loans to all drivers to buy these. ``I have written to the government regarding this,'' he said. AUCS president Ibrahim Shaikh too claimed that the insistence on flag amounted to unnecessary harassment of the drivers.

Regardless of what happens, the commuter will still be taken for a ride. Since even if flag meters are installed, the fare will still be taken on the basis of the reading of the Yenkay meter as no fare cards for flag meters have been made in the first place.

14 state officials shifted in minor reshuffle Wednesday, November 1, 2000

GANDHINAGAR: The state government on Monday shuffled 14 officials of the rank of additional collectors. Additional collector of Kutch YC Potdar has been shifted to commissionerate of employment and training in Gandhinagar.MK Chaudhari, deputy commissioner with the state election commission, has been appointed as project administrator, tribal area sub-plan.
NM Chavda, welfare commissioner with the Gujarat Labour Welfare Board, has been made in-charge of the tribal area sub- plan. MS Thakkar,
additional collector of Valsad, is the new secretary of the state pilgrimage places development board.
RS Patel of the social welfare department has been transferred to Bhavnagar as chief executive of the Bhavnagar Area Development Authority.
VS Chauhan, addictional collector with the pilgrimage places development board, has been shifted to Mehsana district as director of the district rural development agency in place of MA Narmawala, who has been shifted to the social welfare department in Gandhinagar.
Additional collector (Irrigation) JD Antani has been made new additional collector of Kheda district. MS Vyas, project administrator of tribal sub-plan, Rajpipla, has been asked to proceed to Bharuch in
the same capacity. AG Parmar of the state leather industries development board has been made new director of Sabarkanatha district rural development agency in place of NP Patel, who has been shifted
to Godhra as project administartor of the tribal sub-plan.
Additional collector of Amreli MH Gadhvi has been appointed as additional collector of Kutch. SS Vaghela, chief executive of Bhavnagar Urban Development Authority, has been posted at Amreli
in the same capacity. NR Pandya has been transferred to Gandhinagar as additional collector in-charge of irrigation, according to an official
release issued here on Monday.

Chauhan asked to explain party councillors Wednesday, November 1, 2000

SURAT: City Bharatiya Janata Party president and leader of the ruling party in the Surat Municipal Corporation, Praveen Naik, has sought explanation from former mayor Fakir Chauhan as to why he did not allow 20 councillors of the party to attend the general board meeting that could have resulted in the party's loss on the floor of the House.
Naik has written to Chauhan, who is also the chairman of the Gujarat Municipal Finance Board, to explain why he did not allow the 20 councillors in a meeting which was held to appoint the heads of 13
committees of the SMC. The letter says: "Your not allowing the councillors to attend the general board meeting is against the
rules of the party and the municipal corporations act.'' Chauhan has to reply to the letter within three days.
The incident, which was a flare-up of the Hajuria-Khajuria battle, happened a week ago when the BJP moved resolutions for appointment of
chairmen for various committees to the SMC. The Kashiram Rana loyalists, who form the Khajuria brigade, did not attend the meeting with a result that the party would have lost if not for the last minute help from Janata Dal, Janata Party and the Nationalist Congress Party. It was later known that the 20 councillors of the Khajuria faction were at the residence of Fakir Chauhan and discussing their next move. They had boycotted the general board meeting as they claimed that their faction did not have enough representation in chairmanship to various committees.
Political analysts here say this should be the beginning of a long battle between Fakir Chauhan and the party, as Naik is preparing the ground for state party president Rajendrasinh Rana to take action against Chauhan.
The letter seeking explanation, Naik insisted, is not a show-cause notice as everyone sees it. There is no word from Chauhan as yet, he said, adding that he had three days to reply to the charges.

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