Indian police arrest astrologer for dire earthquake prediction

Indian police have arrested an astrologer for predicting another earthquake is about to happen.

Ambalal Patel's prediction was published on the front pages of regional newspapers in Gujarat.

His predictions come only a week after an earthquake decimated cities in the state claiming between 30,000 and 100,000 lives.

Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel says: "He was arrested for spreading fear and disturbing the peace."


AHMEDABAD, India (Reuters) - A week after a brutal earthquake ripped through western India, people in the city of Ahmedabad have been gripped by panic following reports of Hindu astrological predictions of an even more devastating quake.

"We will go inside only after the third or fourth of February when the ill effects of the planets is over," said Naresh Singhvi, who runs a small "paan" (betel leaf) shop in Gujarat's prosperous commercial capital, Ahmedabad.

"There is going to be a very severe earthquake, more powerful than this one," he added.

Rumours of a fresh disaster have been flying thick and fast since a Gujarati publication quoted a Hindu astrologer as saying a powerful quake would tear through Gujarat on Saturday.

Hindu astrologers say that Pluto, the planet of death in Hindu astrology, and Mars, the planet that spells aggression, are aligned ominously at the moment.

Many of the city's five million people, including some panic-stricken Muslims, have been staying away from their high-rise apartments.

People say the fresh quake would be bigger than the one which hit Bhuj, the town closest to the epicentre of last week's calamity. That measured 7.9 on the Richter scale.

Officials say at least 30,000 died and thousands were left homeless in India's worst natural disaster which struck on the morning of January 26 when the country was getting ready to celebrate Republic Day.

Dozens of aftershocks since then have only aggravated peoples' fears.

"I don't want to sleep at home because I will not be able to run if I am asleep," said Pinky Jain, a housewife. "All the families in my apartment block have decided that we will live together and die together."


How sad that people are ruled by superstition and witchcraft. How much we need to work to show them a better way.

Even so come, Lord Jesus

[This message has been edited by Linda Sutton (edited February 03, 2001).]