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Saturday 4 December 1999
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Vadodara Police gear up to pre-empt kar seva

GRP detains 22 volunteers in Vadodara, 35 in Valsad

By Sajid Shaikh

VADODARA: Government Railway Police (GRP) on Friday detained 22 kar sevaks, including nine women, under Section 68 of the Bombay Police Act. All those detained are from Maharashtra and had come to Vadodara on the Howrah Express to participate in Saturday's kar seva at Kevadia. While at least 35 volunteers had been detained in Valsad, GRP in Surat and Bharuch had not detected any kar sevak till 5.30 p.m.

"We are acting on the instructions of police director general C P Singh in line with government orders," GRP deputy police superintendent B R Shimpi said pointing out "This is a pre-emptive step and all those we have detained will be released in due course." He said those detained at Vadodara would be released after 6 p.m.

City and rural police, meanwhile, have pulled up their socks to foil any attempt by the kar sevaks to reach the Kevadia dam site by road, rail or on foot.

According to Vadodara rural police superintendent Vivek Shrivastava, three State Reserve Police companies, 10 sub-inspectors, 200 Home Guards and 200 Gramya Raksha Dal (Village Defence Force) personnel have been pressed into service in Vadodara district alone to prevent volunteers from reaching the site.

Rural police has also arranged for a mobile van and four water canons to disperse the crowd should the need arise. Police chowkies have been set up on all four roads leading to Kevadia through Vadodara district. Rural police has also deputed an executive magistrate at each chowky.

In Kevadia, police inspector general D D Tuteja has been given 10 SRP companies to cater to crowd control and tackle any law-and-order problem. Police bandobast on all seven routes outside Vadodara has been beefed up.

In the city, police commissioner J Mahapatra has formed police posses at the Vadodara Railway Station, the bus terminus and other strategic points. One SRP company has been deployed while a tight vigil has been mounted on three transit camps of the Narmada kar sevaks.

Narmada Jan Andolan - sponsors of the kar seva - has set up these camps at the Wadi Swaminarayan Temple, the Faramji compound in Sayajigunj and the Wakar Seva Kendra opposite Hotel Surya Palace. City police have also used additional manpower at the Kaporai-Chowkdy main entry point from the city to Kevadia via Dabhoi Road.

At least 10 Gujarat State Transport Road Corporation (GSRTC) buses have been requisitioned to transport detenus. Police is also keeping a constant track of Congress corporator Shailesh 'Sotta' Mehta and former MP Satyajitsinh Gaekwad who had pledged solidarity with the "civil disobedience" movement.

Senior police officials said the police commissioner met local transporters and asked them not to lend their vehicles to the kar sevaks. Police suspect the volunteers would try to leave city only in the wee hours.

"They don't have any shelter at Kevadia and will not want to spend a night there," Mr Mahapatra said, "They will probably start after midnight or in the wee hours."

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