Saturday, March 23, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Another train attack bid
POTO against Godhra accused withdrawn

Ahmedabad, March 22
News of an attack on another train sent shivers through Gujarat this morning.

An armed mob of about 500 reportedly tried to stop a Mumbai-bound train at Vadodara city late last night. The driver of the Baroda-Mumbai Express, sensing trouble, accelerated the train and averted a potential disaster, a senior Vadodara police officer said.

Shops burn in the Sindhi market
Shops burn in the Sindhi market in the Kalupur area in Ahmedabad on Thursday during the communal violence, which disrupted the normal life in this area. 
— PTI photo 

Rioters loot goods from a store
Rioters loot goods from a store as another shop burns in Ahmedabad late Thursday. — Reuters photo

Broken pieces of glass
Broken pieces of glass lie on the road after communal clash in the Kalupur area in Ahmedabad on Thursday. 

— PTI photo

“No complaint has been lodged with the police or the Railway Police and no arrests have been made so far,” the officer said.

Thursday’s train attack might not have been planned, he added. “The train passes through the sensitive Shijajinagar area on the outskirts of Vadodara. It is possible that the train was caught in the hail of stones that mobs of the two communities were throwing at each other,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Gujarat Government has decided to withdraw the application of the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO) against the accused in the Godhra carnage and subsequent communal riots and instead apply provisions under the IPC in these cases. Chief Minister Narendra Modi said at Gandhinagar today.

Talking to the media, Mr Modi said the government had sought the advice of the Advocate-General before taking the decision in this matter.

The accused would now be dealt with as per the normal provisions of the IPC, he added.

The police had arrested 62 persons in connection with the carnage. Some of the accused, as also some of those arrested in connection with the subsequent riots, were charged under POTO.

At least two persons were stabbed to death and another injured in the Dantiwad and Lal Akhara localities of Baroda, prompting the authorities to re-impose indefinite curfew in six police station areas of the city.

One person was stabbed to death and one injured in the Dantiwad Bazar area, while another was killed in the Lal Akhara area by some unidentified persons, the police said.

In Ahmedabad the situation remained peaceful but tense even as the curfew restrictions were strictly observed in the four police station areas of Kalupur, Karanj, Shahpur and Dariapur.

Curfew was also being strictly imposed in the riot affected town of Himmatnagar in Sabarkantha which was gripped by tension yesterday after the recovery of the body of a youth.

Modasa town in Sabarkantha district was also under curfew after group clashes on Tuesday claimed the lives of two persons.

Meanwhile, the four-member National Human Rights Commission headed by Justice J.S. Varma today visited Godhra to make an on-the-spot assessment of the situation. AgenciesBack


No decision yet on ‘asthi yatra’, says VHP

Ayodhya, March 22
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) today denied that it had ever announced the holding of an “asthi kalash yatra” carrying the ashes of those killed in the train carnage at Godhra last month.

Talking to the media here, parishad General Secretary Pravin Bhai Togadia today made it clear that no decision had been taken as yet regarding taking out the countrywide yatra.

Criticising the so-called secular forces for raising a hue and cry over the “asthi kalash” issue, he pointed out that the VHP was not ready to discuss with anyone whether the carrying out of this yatra was relevant or not. “However, we may discuss the possible ramifications of such a move, if taken,’’ he added.

He also condemned all political parties for ignoring the interests of the Hindus and on the other creating a furore for getting meagre benefits accrued to the minority community.

The VHP demanded that Parliament should enact a law to hand over the makeshift temple and the acquired land to Hindus, while threatening a country-wide “indefinite agitation” after June 2 in support of the construction of a Ram Temple at Ayodhya.

Talking to reporters here, VHP General Secretary Praveenbhai Tagodia said, from June 2, they would organise a daily “Ram nam jaap’’ (recital) and a weekly “Ram nam santkeertan’’ in villages across the country till the construction of the temple at Ayodhya.

“On every “puranmasi” (full moon), a Sri Ram yajna would be organised in villages till the construction of the Ram temple here,’’ he added.

Mr Tagodia also demanded that the entire land (disputed as well as acquired) be handed over to the Hindus and Parliament should enact a law in this regard.

“Any talk with anyone on the temple issue would be non-negotiable,’’ he claimed.

Asked whether the VHP’s plan to polarise Hindus would benefit the BJP, he said his organisation was not concerned with that.

Taking a dig at the BJP, Mr Tagodia said the party was defeated in the Assembly elections in the state as the majority Hindus were dissatisfied with its performance on various fronts and “its lack of commitment on the Hindu issues’’.

He alleged that the BJP had lost track of its original principles after becoming a part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

After the end of a two-day managing committee meeting of the VHP here yesterday, he said the organisation would support only that party which has the interests of Hindus uppermost in its mind. The BJP used to be one such party but it has, of late, come under the “vicious’’ grip of the NDA.

In reply to a question, he said the March 15 shila daan was not a flop show and expressed satisfaction over the peaceful conduct of the programme. He claimed that the successful passage of the event under adverse circumstances reflects that the Ram temple movement has gone one step ahead towards victory. UNIBack

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