Tuesday, August 13, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Rehabilitate riot-hit, Kalam tells Modi

President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam (R) stands beside Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and other officials while observing a painting of Mahatma Gandhi in Ahmedabad on Monday.

Local residents wave the national flag to welcome President Kalam to Ahemdabad.
— Reuters photos

Ahmedabad, August 12
President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam today directed Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Ahmedabad District Collector K. Sriniwas to make necessary arrangements for the relief and rehabilitation of riot refugees, especially for the education of a boy, who lost his entire family in the carnage.

Soon after winding up his visit to Naroda Patia area, which witnessed one of the worst post-Godhra violence here, the President, who had stepped into his car, re-emerged and called out to Mr Modi and Mr Sriniwas.

A visibly surprised Chief Minister and the District Collector were told by Dr Kalam that they should take steps for providing relief to the riot victims who had met him minutes before. He also directed them to arrange for their rehabilitation.

The President specifically asked Mr Modi and Mr Srinivasan to arrange for the education of Javed Sheikh, the 14-year-old boy who met him on the podium at Naroda Patia. The boy, whose parents had perished in the February 28 carnage, had told the President that he wanted to study but did not have the means to do so.

After this, the President left for the relief camps at Haj House, Kalupur, and the Widow House, Juhapura.

On his part, Mr Modi described the President’s visit as a “matter of pride for the state”.

Amid chants of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai’’, some 200 families of riot refugees from the Naroda Patia area urged Dr Kalam to ensure that they, too, be treated like other Indian citizens and given adequate compensation and protection by the Central Reserve Police Force as they no longer trusted the Gujarat police.

However, for a large number of minority community people who survived the communal riots, President Kalam’s visit to the worst-hit Naroda Patiya was a “damp squib and an anti-climax”.

“We expected the President to address us,” screamed a number of people from across the road near devastated Noorani Masjid as the presidential convoy zoomed through within minutes he finished interaction with some of the survivors at a makeshift stage set up on the premises of Gujarat Transport Employees Cooperative Bank.

Hundreds of residents had climbed on balconies, rooftops and treetops to get a glimpse of the President while banners such as “Rashtrapati Abdul Kalam, Naroda Patiya Ke Dukhiyon Ka Salam” (President Kalam, please accept the salutations of the distressed people of Naroda Patia) were seen around the area.

Earlier, interacting with his favourite audience — school children — at Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram, Dr Kalam said his “ideal persons” were “from this place, from Gujarat.”

Gandhi, who took a vow in 1930 not to return to the ashram till “I get freedom”, and renowned space scientist Vikram Sarabhai, “who showed how a vision can be converted into a mission” were his ideals, Dr Kalam said in his inimitable teacher’s style to a thunderous applause from the young audience.

“S..W..E..A..T”, the President spelt out when asked what sublime quality was required to become like him.

Reciting from his “Song of Youth”, Dr Kalam, who was flanked by Chief Minister Narendra Modi, said at one point: “Small aim is a crime. The honourable Chief Minister has to give you a big aim.”

“Have you not had your breakfast today?”, he asked his young audience, not satisfied with the way they recited his “Song of Youth” after him.

Earlier, immediately after arriving at the airport here, Dr Kalam reached Sabarmati Ashram and visited the Vinoba and Mira Kutir and then paid floral tributes to Gandhiji’s portrait at Hridaykunj.

He went inside the room of Mahatma Gandhi and sat on the mattress to offer prayers. Sabarmati Ashram Director Amrit Modi, who welcomed him with “sootmallas”, and the Chief Minister accompanied him. PTI, UNI



Defers recording of I-Day speech
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 12
President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has deferred the recording of the customary Independence Day message to the nation till he returns here tomorrow evening from his two-day trip to Gujarat.

Significantly, Dr Kalam is likely to make a mention of his Gujarat visit in his I-Day eve speech. Well-placed sources in the Rashtrapati Bhavan and Doordarshan told The Tribune here today that the recording would now be done late tomorrow evening at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Political observers attach significance to three recent moves by Dr Kalam: (i) his decision to visit Gujarat, (ii) his hosting a banquet for the Prime Minister’s Council of Ministers barely two days before his Gujarat visit, and (iii) deferring the recording of his I-Day address.


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