Saturday, March 2, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Army stages flag march, riot toll 200
Shoot-at-sight order throughout Gujarat, Fernandes visits troubled areas

Ahmedabad, March 1
With the communal violence continuing unabated, the Gujarat Government issued the shoot-at-sight order throughout the state and deployed the Army in the worst-hit Ahmedabad and some other towns as the death toll in the past two days of rioting rose to over 200.

Nine columns of the Army, comprising over 3,000 personnel, staged a flag march through sensitive areas and took up positions in the city where 27 members of a minority community were burnt to death in their sleep and a police constable was shot dead by a frenzied mob bringing the number of deaths in the commercial capital alone to nearly 115.

The areas where the Army staged the flag march included Dariyapur, Shahpur, Shahibaug and Naroda.

The police opened fire in some places in the city and in the curfew-bound Vadodara to control rioting mobs.

In the curfew-bound industrial town of Halol, about 45 km from Vadodara, the police resorted to firing to disperse a mob setting factories ablaze.

Defence Minister George Fernandes discussed the situation in the state with Chief Minister Narendra Modi and later visited some troubled areas in Ahmedabad. Coming under criticism of “total inaction”, Mr Modi issued the shoot-at-sight order to the police against arsonists and those indulging in rioting activities.

A large number of people with bullet injuries, stab wounds and scalded faces following acid attacks were making a beeline to the Civil Hospital in Meghaninagar, the scene of yesterday’s mob attack in which 38 persons including a former Congress MP and his family members were burnt alive.

At least 40 bodies were recovered from Muthiya in the Naroda area on the outskirts of the city.

Mr Fernandes, who went around the violence-hit areas of the city this morning , earlier held discussions with Police Commissioner P.C. Pandey here.

KOLKATA: A deputy commander of the Harkat-ul-Jehad-e-Islami, suspected to be one of the mastermind behind Wednesday’s train arson in Godhra station of Gujarat, has been arrested from the Bengal-Bihar border.

Fresh communal violence in the city and its outskirts early today claimed 30 more lives.

There were fears of more violence in view of the fact that Muslims would congregate for prayers in mosques. There were reports of arson and looting in  Old Ahmedabad city and a policeman was killed and his motor cycle burnt in the Bapunagar area.

The curfew remained in force in the city, which witnessed large-scale violence since yesterday with unruly mobs targeting houses and shops belonging to a minority community.

In the city, the police fired 101 rounds and 500 teargas shells to unsuccessfully contain the violence.

In Mehsana district of north Gujarat, five houses were set on fire and a number of residents have deserted their residences at Uktupur village, which was the target of mob fury.

In Vadodara, three bodies were recovered in the Makarpura police station area bringing the toll in the city to six since Wednesday’s attack on the train in Godhra.

One more fatal stabbing incident has been reported from the curfew-bound Bharuch town last night.

At least 16 persons, alleged to be arsonists, were killed in police firing across the state today even as rampaging mobs defied curfew orders in different places including the city, official sources said here.

The police had to open fire in many curfew-bound places in which at least seven persons were killed, the sources said.

Meanwhile, the state government has identified the areas near Godhra railway station from where some miscreants involved in the attack on the Sabarmati Express hailed from.

The state government has demolished 184 illegal structures constructed on government land near the station, according to Minister of State for Revenue Haren Pandya.

Mr Pandya alleged that miscreants belonging to this locality had attacked passengers on the train. PTI



Arson, clashes mark VHP bandh; 2 killed in Aligarh

New Delhi, March 1
Two persons were killed even as police firing, arson, clashes and demolition of religious structures marked the dawn-to-dusk countrywide VHP-sponsored bandh today in protest against the Godhra carnage. The bandh evoked a mixed response, partially affecting normal life in some states.

Two persons belonging to a minority community were killed in communally-sensitive Aligarh district of Uttar Pradesh, triggering tension and prompting the authorities to deploy the Rapid Action Force (RAF).

While a person on a morning walk was shot dead by two-wheeler-borne assailants on the railway road, the other was stabbed to death at Naurangabad, the police said.

All shops and business establishments were closed in the district and the streets wore a deserted look.

Five religious structures were demolished and one was set afire by a mob at Kaithal in Haryana. In Punjab, a religious structure was damaged at Kapurthala, the police said.

The police fired 12 rounds in the air to disperse a mob that looted and set afire shops at Murad in Thane district of Maharashtra.

The 100-strong mob also pelted the police with stones and the latter resorted to firing to quell arsonists after bursting of teargas shells and a lathi charge failed to control the situation.

Suburban train services were partially disrupted as VHP workers squatted on rail tracks and put sleeper blocks at various places in Mumbai.

The BEST authorities said VHP workers threw stones and deflated tyres of buses in various parts of Mumbai, affecting 15 per cent of its services.

The police fired in the air and the authorities slapped curfew on Kishangarh town in Rajasthan’s Ajmer district, where members of two communities clashed.

The trouble erupted when hundreds of VHP activists tried to forcibly close down shops on the Jaipur-Ajmer highway, the police said.

A complete shutdown was observed in Ayodhya, where additional forces were deployed to maintain order in view of the convergence of thousands of Ram sevaks.

All schools, government offices, post offices, banks, shops and business establishments were closed, the police said, adding that no major breach of law and order was reported from anywhere during the bandh.

In Andhra Pradesh, miscreants indulged in stone-throwing causing injuries to a police constable near a mosque at Charminar in old Hyderabad city.

Government offices were open and vehicular movement was normal in Madhya Pradesh where the bandh evoked poor response.

Incidents of arson and stone pelting were reported from Kolar town in Karnataka, while life was normal in Bangalore which was exempted from the bandh call.

The police control room said no untoward incident was reported from any part of the Capital.

Shops in the Connaught Place market, besides the walled city areas such as Fatehpuri and the commercial area of Jhandewalan were closed in response to the bandh call. In some areas in east and south Delhi, shops were opened in the morning but were closed later in the day under pressure from VHP workers.

There was no disruption of essential services and attendance in schools and government offices was near normal.

Public transport was by and large operational. School buses also plied normally.

In some areas of central Delhi however, office-goers complained of their buses being stopped by bandh supporters in the morning. PTI, UNI



30 companies rushed to Ayodhya

Ayodhya, March 1
At least 30 companies of the paramilitary forces were rushed to Ayodhya where the VHP’s bandh call in protest against the Godhra carnage evoked a total response.

Another 70 companies of the paramilitary forces will be reaching here during the next two days as part of a “security scheme” devised by the state and Central governments to ensure peace, Additional District Magistrate N.S. Patel said.

He said the additional forces had been requisitioned to maintain law and order in view of the convergence of thousands of people here.

Special emphasis is being laid on the security of the disputed site, Mr Patel said. Security around the site and the approaches leading to it has been beefed up substantially and is being monitored by officials.

Authorities have imposed strict restrictions in Ayodhya and its twin city of Faizabad including a ban on the gathering of more than four persons and on the movement of vehicles into and inside Ayodhya.

All roads leading to Ayodhya from Lucknow, Rae Bareily, Sultanpur, Ambedkar Nagar and Gorakhpur have been sealed.

Meanwhile, a complete shutdown was observed in Ayodhya and Faizabad. No untoward incident was reported from anywhere, Mr Patel said. PTI



Mob frenzy unabated
Prashant Sood 
Tribune News Service

Ahmedabad, March 1
An eerie silence permeates through Dariapur area of the city where flames still rage in shops gutted by angry mobs hours back.

Empty roads are littered with charred remains of cars, autos, rickshaws and rehris. The police is hardly visible on roads as one passes through the curfew-bound old city area.

As edginess starts turning into fear, an Army truck with men in battlegear appears, giving some relief. If the old city area is seemingly quiet now, it is, perhaps, only due to the presence of the Army.

It was the third day of mob frenzy in Ahmedabad after Wednesday’s incident near the Godhara railway station shook this sensitive city. An handicraft exhibition, in which several artisans from Jammu and Kashmir were participating, was torched in the afternoon today. “If there is perceived anger, loot-mentality is also at work,” said an aghast resident of the city.

Over 40 persons were burnt alive in Gulmarg Society yesterday. Former Congress MP S.N. Jafferhy was among those who fell a victim to mob fury. Thousands of passengers were today stranded at the Ahmedabad railway station, which seemed to be an oasis of relief in a sea of terror.

There were long queues outside the only STD line working. Scared passengers thought it safe to spend the night sleeping on the platform than venture out. But there were good Samaritans, like Mr Bhavesh Shah, a former member of the National Railway Users Consultative Committee, who ferried desperate passengers in vehicles with passes.

Almost the entire city was under curfew today and the Army had been sent to sensitive areas.

Army troops were airlifted from Delhi on Thursday night and a besieged state government is hoping that another brigade will arrive tomorrow. Locals say the violence is the worst that Ahmedabad has witnessed since 1969. And there are many who see the enemy hand in the incidents.

“It could be an attempt to force the government to curtail the Army strength on the borders,” said a resident. There were also reports of the involvement of two corporators and the local station master in the incidents of Godhra.


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