Tuesday, October 29, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Badungar files plea in PHRC
Apprehension of govt interference in SGPC poll
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 28
Apprehending the use of musclepower, the police and other arm-twisting measures by the Punjab Government to stop pro-Badal members from exercising their franchise in the elections of the SGPC President on November 12 at Amritsar, SGPC chief Kirpal Singh Badungar, today filed a petition in the Punjab Human Right Commission (PHRC), seeking its intervention to stop the government interference.

The commission has also been requested to conduct an inquiry into the police raids and picking up close relations of certain SGPC members.

Mr Badungar, who was accompanied by Mr Alwinderpal Singh Pakhoke, senior vice-president, Mr Kewal Singh Badal, vice-president; and Ms Kiranjot Kaur, general secretary personally handed over the petition to the commission members who would meet tomorrow to take a “proper” view of the petition.

In an eight-page petition supported by newspaper clippings etc, Mr Badungar has cited several examples of police raids and “ picking up” of close relations of pro-Badal SGPC members. He has alleged that “ coercive tactics used by the state government against pro- Badal members have forced them to leave their homes”. The petition says that Capt Amarinder Singh was “ going out of the way” to help the splinter Akali — SHSAD headed by Mr G.S. Tohra in the elections.

It has been alleged that the police has raided the houses of Mr Bakhshish Singh Dhirowali, Mr Devinder Singh, Mr Raghbir Singh, Mr Kulwinder Singh, Mr Bhagwant Singh, Mr Balbir Singh, Mr Kashmir Singh Gindiwind, and Mr Hardev Singh.

The SGPC President has stated in the petition that Mr Surinder Singh Atwal, SP, Internal Vigilance, has been conducting the raids. Though the matter was taken up with police authorities concerned but no one has put a stop to the raids etc.

Talking to mediapersons after filing the petition, Mr Badungar claimed that the government would prevent pro-Badal members from entering the voting hall at Amritsar and also try to create trouble there. “However, the SAD, was prepared to face the challenge,” asserted.

Ms Kiranjot Kaur, when asked whether she is a candidate for the post of SGPC President, said “I am too young to hold this office”.


SGPC members get ‘five-star facilities’
Our Correspondent

Mansa, October 28
Former Chief Minister, Punjab and SAD President Parkash Singh Badal has kept 88 members, including 11 women members of the SGPC belonging to Mansa, Bathinda, Sangrur and other districts at his farmhouse at Balasar in Sirsa district of Haryana. Medical facilities are being provided to them by Mr Om Parkash Chautala, a friend of Mr Badal and Chief Minister Haryana. A team of mediapersons from Mansa visited Balasar yesterday and talked to a number of SGPC members there.

Almost all of them said that the Punjab police under directions of Captain Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister Punjab, had been harassing their kin and relatives after having failed to win them over with inducements like offers of government jobs to their relatives. They affirmed their support to Mr Badal and said come what may they would not support Mr Ravi Inder Singh, former Speaker of Punjab Vidhan Sabha or Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, former SGPC Chief.

The farmhouse of Mr Badal where these SGPC members are being kept have 30 well furnished rooms comparable to rooms of five star hotels. Some of them said they were enjoying the stay like a picnic while others said with the medical treatment they were receiving they might be cured of their diseases.

Mr Baldev Singh Makha, SGPC member from Mansa district said that the state government had been harassing the SGPC members and Captain Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab would have to pay a heavy price for the treatment given to them at the instance of SHSAD president Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Mr Ravi Inder Singh a former speaker.


SAD (A) activists stage dharna
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, October 28
Hundreds of workers and office bearers of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) staged a dharna outside the Central jail here today demanding the release of Sikh youths, who were languishing in the jail for years.

Addressing the dharna, Mr Ram Singh and Mr Gurjatinder Singh Bhikhiwind, both general secretaries, of the party, said this time Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister, could not fool the Sikhs into supporting him. They said no one would be allowed to spoil the hard-earned peace in Punjab.

The leaders said they would support if Mr Badal had constructive issues like the river waters issue, transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab etc. to fight the state government. However, he should not count on the Sikh youth to support him on corruption cases involving him and his near and dear ones.

“Not a single Sikh youth languishing in jails of Ajmer, Jodhpur, Bareilly, Nabha, Amritsar, Delhi and Nasik for past 13-14 years without trial had been released, despite favourable governments both at state and Centre” they said.

The leaders announced support for agitation by seven farmer organisations tomorrow against the government decision to revoke free electricity to agricultural sector. The party office-bearers also threatened to hold dharnas outside embassies in Delhi to protest the government refusal to allow Sikh jathas to go to Pakistan on the occasion of the Gurpurab. The party had given an ultimatum of November 8 to the government failing which dharnas would be staged.

JAGRAON: Hundreds of workers of the SAD held a dharna near the office of the SDM. The dharna was led by Mr Bhag Singh Mallah, MLA.

The leaders also criticised Mr Darshan Singh Brar, former minister, for his activities.

KHAMANO: A dharna was organised by the Khamano unit of the SAD in front of the office of the SDM. Presiding over the dharna, district SAD president Swarn Singh Chanarthal flayed the policies of the Congress government. He said the SAD would not tolerate oppression and would fight for justice.

PHAGWARA: SAD and BJP activists sat in a dharna in front of the SDM’s office in protest against the non-acceptance of their 15-point demand charter.

The alleged reign of repression and vendetta unleashed by the government against the Akalis and BJP leaders and workers drew a flak from all speakers.


SAD activists stage dharnas
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 28
A large number of SAD workers, led by Mr Didar Singh Bhatti and Mr Gurpreet Singh Bhatti, senior Akali leaders, staged dharnas in front of the offices of the SDM, Fatehgarh Sahib, and the SDM, Bassi Pathana.

The dharnas were staged as part of the party’s decision to hold protests against the ‘anti-public policies’ of the Congress government.

Mr Didar Singh Bhatti, SAD candidate from Sirhind constituency, addressed the dharnas at both places. He lashed out at the Congress government and said it had failed on every front. “What to talk of fulfilling its promises made in the election manifesto, it has started withdrawing facilities being provided by the Badal government,” he said. He urged the people to unite under the leadership of Mr Badal to uproot the ‘anti-public’ government.

Mr Gurpreet Singh Bhatti, district president of the Youth Akali Dal, urged the youth to come forward and to highlight the ‘anti-public’ policies of the Congress government. He alleged that Capt Amarinder Singh was using the Vigilance Department as a tool to terrorise his political rivals on the behest of certain so-called Akali leaders, who were actually the agents of the Congress.

Mr Dalip Singh Pandhi, former minister, Mr Rajeshpal Singh Lalli, Mr Amarjit Singh Kohli, Jathedar Amar Singh Nalini, Mr Hardev Singh Badali, Mr Harinder Singh Babar and Mr Mohan Singh Makaronpur, all senior Akali leaders, also addressed the dharnas.


SAD dharna against ‘reign of terror’
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, October 28
Workers and leaders of the SAD staged a dharna in front of the SDM’s office here today in protest against the alleged reign of terror let loose by the Congress government in Punjab against SAD activists.

Speakers criticised the Congress for failing to implement any of the promises made at the time of the Assembly elections. They claimed that almost all sections of society had turned against the Congress and if a poll was held now, the latter would not win.

Mr Amrik Singh Mohali, senior vice-president of the Ropar unit of the SAD, said the Congress government was filing false cases against SAD workers and leaders and had adopted a policy of confrontation. He said the issue of corruption was nothing new and had started during the tenure of the Congress government at the Centre led by Mrs Indira Gandhi.

Mr Amrik Singh Mohali said if the 15-point charter of demands was not implemented, the party would be compelled to begin a “jail bharo” movement.

Mr Gurpartap Singh Riar, president of the Chandigarh unit of the SAD, said Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had made sacrifices for the SAD and during his tenure as Chief Minister he implemented various schemes for the benefit of the people of Punjab.

The protesters’ demands included the provision of free power and water to farmers as earlier, the introduction of the “shagun” scheme, the abolition of octroi and the withdrawal of the decision to cut salaries of government employees.


PSEB to return power to states
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, October 28
The Punjab State Electricity Board will start returning power to Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir from November 1 under the banking system.

The PSEB had procured a sizeable amount of power from these states during the summer months in order to meet the energy needs under the banking system. Under the banking system, no cash transactions take place nor is any other type of payment made . But the same amount of energy is returned to the states concerned during the winter months.

According to information available with this reporter, the PSEB drew nearly 1,000 lakh units of power from Uttaranchal. From November 1, as much as 10 lakh units of power from the PSEB will be made to that state daily. The entire power loaned from Uttaranchal would be returned in three months. Similarly, supply to Himachal will start at the rate of 5 lakh units daily. The Jammu and Kashmir State Electricity Board has not yet conveyed its requirement schedule. The power demand from these states will increase with the lowering of temperature in December and January.

Meanwhile, the PSEB is trying to supply eight-hour power to rural feeders in order to meet the tubewell load.

The three thermal plants of the PSEB are running normally, but the coal supply position continues to be difficult. Lehra Mohabbat Thermal Plant has coal for six days, the Bathinda plant for 16 days and Ropar plant for 9 days.

Meanwhile, the PSEB has not received the first instalment of Rs 25 crore which was due in October from the Punjab Government out of the Rs 100 crore to be paid for supplying power to the tubewells from April to July this year.

The billing for the tubewells at the rate of Rs 60 per horsepower has not yet been started by the PSEB from the month of August as ordered by Electricity Regulatory Commission. The state government is understood to have asked the PSEB to go slow on this issue in view of the political ramifications of the implementation of the tariff order.


Police remand for Pherurai in fake arms
licences case
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, October 28
Putting up a brave front former SSP of Ferozepore Gurcharan Singh Pherurai today spoke to The Tribune in a court here saying that he was being framed due to political vendetta.

On being asked if he was treated humanely in police custody, he refused to comment and said, “My whole concentration is on in the legal process being planned by my counsel to tackle the difficulties I am facing”.

He was remanded in judicial custody till November 9 by the court in a case of graft registered against him at the Mamdot police station. However, he was arrested immediately by the SHO, Ferozepore cantonment police station, after seeking production warrants and produced him before the court in another case of fake arms licences registered against him and 23 of his relatives and associates under Sections 420 and 120 (B) of the Indian Penal Code at the cantonment police station on October 14.

The court remanded him in police custody till October 31 after hearing the plea of the public prosecutor. Counsel of Pherurai however opposed the plea of the police for remand by giving reference of a judgement of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in which the matter of fake arms licences was referred to the CBI for a probe.

Counsel for Pherurai argued that since the matter was pending before the CBI and all relevant records of arms licences for the period 1997 to 2000 were seized by the agency there was no point in granting police remand. Another counsel for Pherurai argued that the police had no right to seek police remand. Let the CBI file an application for police remand before the competent court and go ahead with the interrogation.

The court was adjourned for a few minutes and finally granted remand till October 31. Meanwhile counsel of Pherurai demanded a proper medical check-up of the accused at regular intervals, for which the court issued orders to the police. The court directed the police to allow the counsel of the accused to meet him for three hours daily from 5 pm.

Many persons, including journalists were seen outside the court to have a look at Pherurai. He was brought to the court under tight security by a DSP. The police tried to push mediapersons out from the court-room when hearing was adjourned for a few minutes. The police coaxed the mediapersons out of the court-room and then locked it from inside keeping only a few journalists inside the court.


Punjab restructures school education
Sarbjit Dhaliwal

Chandigarh, October 28
Effecting a major change in the Punjab Education Department, the Punjab Government today issued orders regarding the reorganisation and restructuring of the school education.

The present four-level system — primary, middle, high and secondary — of school education has been compressed into two levels. The directorate of primary education has been abolished. Primary schools will be merged into middle schools at places where they have been functioning on the same premises or located at distance within kilometre from each other.

The order issued today will become operative with effect from November 1. The order has been issued by Mr B. Sarkar, Secretary School Education , for the State Government. However, a large number of problems especially pertaining to redesignation of central head teachers and block primary education officers are expected to crop up.

As per the new order, the school education has been restructured into two levels —elementary and secondary. The elementary level will consist of first eight class and the secondary level will consist of nine to 12 class. However, the system of common syllabi for 9th and 10th classes and streams of eleventh and twelfth classes will continue with a special emphasis on vocational streams.

The Directorate of Primary Education will, henceforth, be called Directorate of Elementary Education.

All primary and middle schools under the control of state government will be called government elementary schools and all high and senior secondary schools will be called government secondary schools.

The Directorate of School Education will be called Directorate of Secondary Education. The nomenclature and functions of the State Council of Educational Research and Training and the wings working under it will remain the same. The DPI (Secondary Education) will be the head of the Department of Directorate of Secondary Education.

There will be no change in the drawing/disbursing officers and all members of staff will continue to draw their salaries wherever they are drawing their salary at present.

All existing primary and middle schools operating from the same campus will merge into a single elementary school and their separate entity will cease to exist. Staff working in these primary and middle schools will merge and frame a common time-table, mark attendance on a single register and will redistribute the workload accordingly.

All Primary and middle schools operating in a village with in a kilometer of each other will merge into a single elementary school.

A primary school will start upper primary classes whenever it has more than 20 primary graduates available. In a village which has only a primary school but does not have any middle and high, senior secondary school, the primary school will start upper primary section. In the villages where primary schools are operating in the premises of high and senior secondary schools, upper primary section will be separated from high and senior secondary school will merge with primary school to form elementary school.


EPF scam: contractor booked, officials in dock
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, October 28
The Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant (GGSSTP) authorities have been finally, after a delay of two years, forced by the PSEB Vigilance to register an FIR against Sodhi Errectors, the second labour contractor accused of swindling Rs 51,25,985 in the EPF scam. The case against the contractor was registered under Sections 406, 409 and 120-B of the IPC in the Sadar police station, Ropar.

Sources say that following the registration of the case, the ADGP Vigilance, PSEB, Mr Lalit Bhatia, expressing doubts over the integrity of the local plant authorities has written to the DGP, Punjab, to get the records of the labour contractors in GGSSTP sealed.

With the registration of the case, the path has been cleared for the issuance of charge sheets against 28 officers of the GGSSTP who were found guilty of dereliction of duty in the EPF scam.

The inquiry conducted by the PSEB Vigilance had earlier recommended a major penalty against 16 engineers and four accounts officers and minor penalty against six engineers and two accounts officers of the GGSSTP for failing to check the EPF scam. The action in major penalty could amount to dismissal from service. The findings of the Vigilance inquiry were endorsed by the three-member committee, comprising Member Generation, Member Finance and Secretary of the board, constituted to mull over the Vigilance findings

While a case against one labour contractor accused in the EPF scam, Calcutta Construction Company, was registered in February 2000, the other major contractor, Sodhi Errectors, went scot-free on the plea that the firm later deposited the swindled amount in the EPF accounts of the workers. In fact, the firm was awarded a major labour contract of the plant despite the accusation.

Sources told TNS the ADGP Vigilance, PSEB, wrote to the General Manager, GGSSTP on August 28 to register an FIR against Sodhi Errectors accused in the EPF scam. However, the General Manager, instead of acting on the Vigilance directive, sent the case to the Advocate-General Punjab for legal advice. The Advocate-General endorsed the advice of the PSEB Vigilance that the case should be registered against the guilty contractor.

The ADGP, PSEB Vigilance, has also written against the Ropar police authorities for failing to act on the FIR registered against the Calcutta Construction company, the labour contractor firm accused in the EPF scam. The case against the said labour contractor was registered in the Sadar police station of Ropar on February 19, 2000. However, no action was taken on the FIR since then. The sources told that the police officials did not register even the case diary in the case.


MoD to get defence land vacated
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, October 28
Amid concern expressed by the civilian owners of defence lands and bungalows on the basis of old grant or lease in all cantonments of the country the Ministry of Defence has finally decided to get these lands vacated dislocating thousands of families without any prior settlement of compensation.

According to a letter dated September 27 issued by the Ministry of Defence addressed to Chief of the Army Staff, it has been asked to get the lands and bungalows vacated from the civilians falling under the area of cantonments. The letter has also been sent to the CDA, Western Command, CDA (O), Pune, and heads of all other Commands of the country.

The first of its kind, the orders reached the office of the Jalandhar Cantonment Board last week. It has been written in the orders to ensure the resumption of 57 old grant properties at Jalandhar Cantonment. The list of these 57 bungalows has also been attached with the order with full details of the size of the lands constructed area.

The orders signed by Mr D.R. Mehra, Under Secretary to Government of India, read as follows:

1. Resumption of 57 old grants properties at Jalandhar Cantonment.

2. Amount of compensation for the authorised structure, if any, standing thereon will be decided later on as per the recent apex court ruling.

3. This issues with the concurrence of the Ministry of Defence (Finance) vide their dy. No. 1906/FIN/W-1 dated 25.9.02.

Sources in the Army disclosed that similar orders would also be applicable in all cantonment areas of the country. Earlier, in 1968 and 1984 such moves were initiated but it could not be finalised due to political pressure. This time the Ministry of Defence has got the permission in this regard from the President of India.

Mr Deshbir Singh Sodhi, president of the Ferozepore Cantonment Bungalow Owners Association, said they were feeling insecure and disturbed. “This reminds us of 1947 when we migrated from western Punjab. The bungalows/lands were allocated to us in lieu of our properties in Pakistan”, he added.

Mr Jatinder Aggarwal, executive member of the association, stated that the Army resumed few houses that were in depleted condition long ago in the 1950s, in the lands resumed have so far not been utilised for defence purpose. These lands and bungalows portray a picture of total neglect.

It is worth mentioning that the owners of 90 houses in Ferozepore Cantonment on the Sant Lal road, Church road, Jhoke road and Mall face the wrath of the Defence Ministry, which is blindly ignoring the Record of Rights, 1910, that clearly states that the government could not establish ownership of such lands.

“Going into the history of settlement records clearly proves that the Army was no more the lessee in most of the cantonment boards.

According to an estimate, at least 10,000 families will be dislocated from cantonment boards in the country if the Army succeeds in the resumption of properties.

The civilian owners of 90 bungalows falling in the limits of the Ferozepore Cantonment Board have also decided to meet the President and present their cases for reconsideration. Another resident Harjit Singh said the Union Government should consider compensating the affected at the market value.

Meanwhile, the properties of the state government falling under the cantonment areas will not be affected as per the decision of the ministry.


BJP to enrol 3 lakh members in Punjab
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 28
Mr Avinash Jaiswal, General Secretary, Punjab state unit of the BJP has said that three lakh persons would be enrolled as primary members of the party in Punjab. A campaign has been launched for it.

Addressing mediapersons here yesterday, Mr Jaiswal said for membership campaign the state had been divided into four zones namely, Malwa, Majha, Doaba and the cities having Municipal Corporations. He said the Malwa zone comprised 11 districts.

Mr Jaiswal, who was in the city for a preview of membership campaign, said efforts would be to enrol members from all castes, creeds and professions. He said the BJP was making efforts to reach people not represented in the BJP so far.

He claimed that response to the campaign was good and people were keen on becoming members of the BJP.

Mr Jaiswal said the party had also started ‘gaon chalo’ campaign in the state. He said the campaign launched at the national level was aimed at reaching out to the rural areas, which were thinly represented in the party.

Mr Jaiswal said the Amarinder Singh government had failed on all fronts and people from all walks of life were unhappy with the performance of the Congress government.

He said the ‘gaon chalo’ campaign was not in conflict with its alliance partner, the SAD (B). Rather it was to strengthen both parties where these were weaker. They wanted to reach every nook and corner of the state, he said.

Mr Jaiswal added that the national President of the BJP, Mr Venkaiah Naidu, would visit Amritsar on November 14. He would go to Tarn Taran also to launch the ‘gaon chalo’ campaign. He said efforts were to ensure that at least five persons from each village of the state were present on the occasion.

He said campaigns were part of preparation for the next Parliamentary elections. The purpose was to increase party cadres before next Lok Sabha election. He added that the party wanted sufficient number of seats for the formation of the next government at the Centre on its own.


No differences with party: Kharar MLA
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, October 28
The MLA from the Kharar constituency, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, today sought to lay at rest speculations about his differences with the party leadership.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Bir Devinder Singh emphasised that he was completely satisfied and in agreement with the decisions of his leadership at all levels and that he would never be found wanting in his loyalty either to the Chief Minister or the party.

Reiterating his complete support, he pointed out that the campaign against corruption that the Chief Minister had launched needed the support of each and every person in his party. “The Punjab CM is faced with challenges probably no other state’s CM is faced with right now. I do not intend to create any problems for him but at the same time I will continue to raise issues in the assembly which affect my electorate.”


Kanwaljit lashes out at Cong
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, October 28
A former Finance Minister and SAD General Secretary, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, today criticised the ruling Congress government under the chiefministership of Capt. Amarindar Singh for its ‘anti-farmer’ policies.

Extending support to farmers against their alleged victimisation by the Congress, he said the SAD would not tolerate this for a long time.

He was addressing a massive rally of party workers here.

He said the government had failed at every front and increased problems of the general public as all development works in the state had come to a halt.

Many public schemes, including the Shagun scheme, free power for irrigation, old-age pension, widow pension, homes for homeless, that were started by the SAD had also been discontinued by the government, he said.

Moreover, 200 units of electricity being provided to the Scheduled Castes free of cost had also been stopped, he claimed.

Employees, traders and farmers were also feeling harassed and cheated as the government had not fulfilled its promises.

He alleged that the Congress had betrayed the Punjabis by not fulfilling the promises made in its manifesto.

Long power cuts in odd hours and poor water supply in rural and urban areas were presented as ‘gifts’ to the public by the government, he added.

Not only corruption but also law and order situation had gone from bad to worse in the past eight months in the state. Corruption in lower levels like police stations, tehsils, and other government offices had increased, he said.

Besides party workers and scores of residents of the nearby areas, Mr Jagjit Singh Dalli, president, Dera Bassi Municipal Council, Mr Sukhdev Singh Changera, senior district general secretary of the SAD, Mr Basheshar Singh Bacchal, Jai Prakash and Mr Mam Raj Gandhi, a local municipal councillor, participated in the rally.


2 CPI men default on SC corpn loan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 28
Two CPI leaders have been found to be defaulters of the Scheduled Caste corporation. Though one of the leaders has already remained behind bars on charges of impersonation, the department is contemplating fresh action against the leaders and an employee of the corporation.

This was disclosed by Mr Ranjit Singh, Executive Director, Punjab Scheduled Caste Land Development and Finance Corporation, while addressing a press conference here today. He alleged that Mr Gurdip Singh and Mr Raj Kumar, the two CPI leaders, had been found defaulters of the corporation loan to the tune of Rs 1.45 lakh and Rs 63,000, respectively.

He further alleged that Mr Gurdip Singh had also fraudulently taken Rs 5 lakh from the corporation on names of five persons of his native village — Mr Sulakhan Singh, Mr Sohan Singh, Mr Balvir Singh, Mr Mukhtiar Singh and Mr Swarn Singh. He said all of them had remained in jail for more than a month for indulging in fraudulent activities. Earlier, both the leaders had levelled charges of irregularities in the corporation.

The Executive Director disclosed that an FIR was being registered against Mr Malkiat Singh, senior clerk of the department, who had allegedly taken house loan from the corporation fraudulently. He alleged that Mr Malkiat Singh got the loan on the basis of land belonging to Mr Gurdip Singh which was already mortgaged in five cases to the corporation itself.

Mr Ranjit Singh said despite repeated reminders, no action had been taken against the revenue officials who had given wrong certificates of Scheduled Caste to six persons belonging to the general category in the past. He, however, said the amount had already been recovered from the “wrong beneficiaries”.


Kale kachhewale’ fear grips villagers
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Sultanwind (Amritsar), October 28
Following a rise in incidence of attacks by the Kale Kachhewale gang in the Majha region, the able-bodied youth of this sleepy village, which was called ‘mini Khalistan’ during the days of terrorism, have started thikri pehra to protect themselves.

Despite a steep fall in night temperature, many residents of Sultanwind village are forced to sleep on the roof-tops of their houses as a precautionary measure. The fear stalks the elders and children as well because at least three persons have been killed by the gang in Sultanwind, Batala and Majitha police districts between October 9 and October 11.

The villagers said they were more scared about the attacks by unidentified persons, who strike during midnight carrying lethal weapons. With the result, some farm house dwellers had started migrating to safer places. While the attackers carried lethal weapons the youth on the thikri pehra were finding it difficult to match them. Meanwhile, the villagers having weapons were volunteering to join the pehra.

It may be mentioned here that Mohar Singh of Chakk Sikandar village in the Batala police district was killed while six others sustained injuries when they were attacked by the Kale Kachhewale gangsters on October 9. The gangsters also decamped with Rs 1 lakh and other valuables. The next day they attacked and killed Chaman Singh of Kalia village in the Batala police district and injured six persons. Within 24 hours, they again struck at Sultanwind village, killing Didar Singh and seriously injuring his wife and grandson.

Mr Sukhwinder Singh, a Municipal Councillor, and Mr Jagir Singh, a former MC, said the residents of Sultanwind village were more scared today than they were during the days of terrorism. Mr Ravinder Kumar Sultanwind, president, All-India Youth Association, said the villagers had to take the responsibility of protecting themselves from the probable attacks in the absence of night patrolling by the police. The family members of Didar Singh said they had to shift to a safer place as they apprehended more attacks in the coming days.

Mr Ravinder Kumar demanded issuance of arms to the villagers to defend themselves against such attacks. He said the police should conduct a door-to-door survey so that a list of ‘outsiders’ could be prepared.


Doping ‘not to affect Sunita’s job’
Our Correspondent

Budhlada (Mansa), October 28
Special security arrangements had been made in the state to thwart untoward incidents during festivals. This was stated by Mr M.S. Bhullar, Director-General Police, Punjab, to mediapersons here on Saturday. Mr Bhullar presided over the concluding ceremony of the 46th Punjab State Senior Volleyball Championship (Men and Women) which started here on October 24. He said there were no A or B categories of terrorists in the state and the state did not face any threat from terrorists.

He added that the withdrawal of medals from Sunita Rani who participated in the 14th Asian Games would have no adverse effect on her police job. He said the All-India Amateur Athletics Federation might take action if required against her which had no concern with her service.


Vigilance raids on PTU ex-VC’s house
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 28
A high-level Vigilance team raided the residence of Dr H.S. Gurm, former Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar, in Urban Estate here today.

Sources said the team, armed with a search warrant, broke open the locks of the house and seized some documents pertaining to the case.

It may be recalled that the former Vice-Chancellor is absconding after an FIR was registered against him and former minister Jagdish Singh Garcha, implicating them in the multi-crore PTU scam. According to the FIR, they allegedly accused had caused a loss of about Rs 11 crore to the university and appointed 95 ad hoc employees without following the prescribed norms.


MC ‘sleeps’ as parking lot becomes banquet hall
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 28
Even as the state Vigilance Department has sought the record of some of the building plans passed during the past few years in the city during the Akali-BJP regime, the manner in which the Municipal Corporation “slept” over non-compoundable violations conducted by a hotel is most glaring.

A survey of the building plan of the hotel by The Tribune revealed that the basement of the hotel had been marked for parking. The hotel is situated on the busy Head Post Office road and has Irrigation department land in front of it. As the hotel could not have got permission if it did not earmark parking space for the hotel, it submitted a building plan under which a ramp was supposed to be created to ensure vehicles could be parked in the basement.

However the hotel did not stick to the plan and instead converted the basement into a banquet hall without seeking the permission of the corporation. The corporation on its part, played game with the hotel and did not take any action in the non-compoundable offence committed by the hotel. The corporation, however did take a fee for the compoundable offences committed by the establishment.

This is not all. The hotel kept only 10 feet of space of its own outside its front facade. This means the hotel is now using a concrete road constructed in front of it for the use of pedestrians and cycles as well as land of the Irrigation Department in front of the road for parking purposes. The land of the Irrigation department has been covered with concrete but no one seems to be objecting the move.

Corporation Mayor Vishnu Sharma when contacted on the issue, said: “we will serve a notice on them for the serious violation conducted by changing the use of its basement”. He said there was no provision for doing away with this clause as the offence was non compoundable. When asked as to why no action had been taken in the matter till now, he said he could not say anything because there was nothing on file on the issue.

Hotel Director Narinder Pal Singh when contacted said the building plan had been changed due to certain constraints. He, however, claimed that later the hotel had submitted an affidavit to the corporation that it would develop parking space for the hotel. He said the management had purchased a plot for the purpose and that a 12 feet road led to the plot and that the plot could be used for parking purposes. He said sometimes the hotel parked its own cars in the plot.

However, when the adjoining site was visited by TNS it was revealed that there was no way in which it could be used for parking purposes. The site has been named Mohan Gardens. A gate has been installed at the entrance of the garden most of which is a sprawling lawn. When TNS visited the site there were nearly a dozen plastic tables and chairs laid on the spot. Moreover an elaborate rockery has also been established at the spot clearly indicating it has been developed as an open air entertainment centre and not for parking purposes.

The hotel Director when questioned about the government space in front of the hotel which is being used for parking purposes, said other establishments had also done the same. He said the hotel had by laying concrete in the area had made it neat and clean.


Onion, garlic prices going the ’98 way
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 28
The prices of essential vegetables like garlic and onion have started witnessing a steep hike in the state during the past fortnight.

The situation may go the 1998 way, while had led to a major crisis for the government.

A survey of major vegetable markets in Doaba region revealed that while the garlic price had recorded a steep hike, ranging between 70 to 80 per cent, the onion prices had witnessed a rise ranging between 25 to 40 per cent during the past fortnight, stirring apprehensions that the prices might go up in the near future.

If good quality garlic was available between Rs 25 to Rs 35 per kg in the retail market during the past fortnight, now it was available for Rs 50 to 60 per kg. The wholesale price has also jumped from Rs 15 to Rs 25 per kg.

Similarly, onion prices have also shot up form Rs 7-8 per kg a week ago to Rs 10-12 per kg, recording a steep hike of about 25 per cent in two weeks. The wholesale price has also gone up.

“This has created problems and the situation might turn worse during the winters for which I have already started storing onions and garlic in sufficient quantities,”rued Ms Kusumjit, a customer at the local Jyoti Chowk market. She was, however, happy over the lower prices of cauliflower and peas, which were available in the market for Rs 12-15 per kg and Rs 20-25 per kg, respectively.

Traders maintained that the prices of onions might go up due to poor supplies from Bhavnagar, Nasik and Kohlapur.

The situation could worsen, particularly in case of garlic, which is being imported from China this year,” said a wholesaler. Similarly, Mr Dimpi Sachdeva, another wholesaler, said the hike in onion prices was caused due to its export unlike last year. He observed that the prices of onion might witness some decrease after Divali as was the case last year.

The situation was a bit comfortable in case of potatoes, which has registered a slight hike, particularly, in Doaba region. “This much hike is for the festival season and prices are likely to roll back after the festival season is over,” said Neeraj, another wholesaler, maintaining that the daily supply of crops to the markets was normal.


Mann wows Tribune readers
Our Correspondent

Punjabi singer and actor Harbhajan Mann greeted by residents
Jee Aayan Nu: Punjabi singer and actor Harbhajan Mann greeted by residents of Bathinda on Monday. — Photo Kulbir Beera

Bathinda, October 28
“I am thrilled to interact with residents of Bathinda. I feel happy that the city which was once called a backward area, has developed so much”, said popular Punjabi singer and actor Harbhajan Mann while giving gifts to readers of The Tribune.

Mann was in the city as part of a campaign launched by ‘The Tribune’ along with the pop star to honour its readers who have shown their faith in the publication.

Talking to the residents of his home district, Mann felt nostalgic and said that although he had visited his native place many times, today’s experience was different.

The singer said it was his dream to make Punjabi cinema popular in Punjab and abroad. He added that the Punjabi movie “Jee Aayan Nu” in which he plays the lead role was made with the motive that Punjabis should not shy away from seeing Punjabi movies.

‘The Tribune’ readers were happy to be with the star as they had had been waiting for the past many days for the “big” event. “It was a matter of pride to see Harbhajan Mann at my door”, said a college student in Model Town.

Harbhajan Mann visited houses at random in Model Town, Bhagu Road, Power House Road, Ajit Road, Shakti Nagar and Bharat Nagar. He gave gifts like audio cassettes of his latest movie, caps, pens and writing pads. The event evoked a good response. Some readers got their photographs clicked with the signer.

He urged the residents to keep up their attachment with the newspaper.


Court orders status quo in tree felling case
Our Correspondent

Kharar, October 28
Ms Harinder Sidhu, Civil Judge, today ordered status quo on a suit filed by the Dalit community of Siswan village in Kharar tehsil for permanent injunction, restraining the defendants, including the Forest Ranger, Sultanpur Taprian village, and the District Forest Officer, Ropar, from issuing permit for the felling of khair trees and firewood from the forest area within the revenue limits of Siswan village. The court has also issued notices to the defendants for November 6 along with a “munadi” in the village.

The suit was filed by Mr Dalip Singh in his individual capacity and on behalf of the Dalit community. He had pleaded that the land had been allotted to the Dalit community in 1961 by the then Punjab Government. He said hundreds of khair trees were illegally cut and taken for sale in the timber market. He wrote in his suit that the Dalits of the village would suffer an irreparable loss in case the defendants were allowed to carry out their illegal designs.


Petitions of two SGPC members infructuous
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 28
Two different petitions seeking the grant of anticipatory bail filed by Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee members Kashmir Singh and Bhagwant Singh were rendered infructuous after state counsel informed the Punjab and Haryana High Court that there was no case registered against them.

In their petitions taken up by Mr Justice R.C. Kathuria of the High Court, the two members had earlier stated that they should be granted anticipatory bail in any first information report registered against them or in alternate they should be given 15-day notice if they were required in any case. Two similar petitions had earlier been filed by Mr Devinder Singh Cheema and Mr Balbir Singh also.

The petitioners had claimed that they were being harassed and threatened with implication in serious cases by the Vigilance department as they owed allegiance to the Shiromani Akali Dal headed by Punjab’s former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Seeking the grant of anticipatory bail, their counsel had stated that the Vigilance department had no jurisdiction over the petitioners as they were not a government servant. He had further added that the petitioner might be involved in some false case with a view to pressurise them into voting for All India Shiromani Akali Dal during the forthcoming elections to SGPC’s executive committee. This, he had submitted, would help the government to succeed in its design of installing Gurcharan Singh Tohra or his nominee as SGPC President.

He had also contended that the present Congress government had adopted a revengeful attitude towards its opponents and as such they were being implicated in cases. The present Chief Minister had repeatedly declared that the Akalis would be taught a lesson, counsel had asserted.


Akali leaders give memo to Jacob
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 28
The Akali Dal faction led by N. S. Minhas and former Mayor Harjinder Kaur here today submitted a memorandum to Punjab Governor Lieut-Gen J. F. R. Jacob (retd) to restrain Chief Minister Amarinder Singh from indulging in personal “vendetta.”

They demanded that 15 demands raised by the Shiromani Akali Dal President Parkash Singh Badal be accepted.

The memorandum was presented by Mr Minhas, Ms Kaur, H. S. Sawhney, Amrit Singh Chaudhary and R. S. Khalsa after a dharna before the DC Office as part of the “Rosh rally” called by Mr Badal.

The rally resolved that a jung had been announced by the party against the Amarinder Singh government. The leaders warned that the Chief Minister’s policies would plunge Punjab in dark days of terrorism.


Cabbies besiege RTA Secy’s house
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 28
Scores of taxi operators besieged the Baradari residence of the Secretary to the Regional Transport Authority (RTA) for about four hours to register their protest against his alleged attempt to force them to send their vehicles to him on “begar”.

Mr S.S. Ghuman, Secretary to the RTA, refuted the allegations and said the gherao was stage-managed. Agitating taxi operators alleged that the officer had been forcing them to send their taxis to him without paying for the fuel. The taxi operators also alleged that officials of the Transport Department harassed them if they failed to give them heavy bribes.

Mr Gurmukh Singh, president of a local taxi union, said the immediate provocation was the harassment of taxi operators running their vehicles under the Self-Employment Matador Taxi Union. He alleged that when a driver of the taxi asked the officer to pay for the petrol bill, the latter started challenging other vehicles at the taxi stand and his securitymen thrashed two taxi operators. He alleged that the officials of the Transport Department were forcing them to shell out heavy monthly bribes up to Rs 50,000.


Man gets life term for murder
Tribune News Service

Moga, October 28
The District and Sessions Court here has sentenced a person to life imprisonment after finding him guilty of murdering his neighbour.

Sukhwant Singh of Jhandeana Sharki village under the Mehna police station area murdered his neighbour Jagdeep Singh on March 20, 2000 with some sharp-edged weapon, suspecting that Jagdeep had illicit relations with his wife. An FIR regarding this was registered under Section 302 of the IPC at the Mehna police station. The Judge sentenced Sukhwant to life imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 5,000 on him.


Tribute to mother of modern Punjabi theatre
Sukant Deepak

Patiala, October 28
A festival featuring two plays — ‘Mirza Sahiban’ and ‘Nau Das Barah’ — is to be a perfect tribute to Norah Richards, “mother” of modern Punjabi theatre, on her birth anniversary on October 29. Norah, a Norwegian who settled in India, gave Punjabi theatre a style different from that of Parsi theatre and encouraged experimentation.

The Punjabi University Department of Theatre and Television is to present these plays at Andhreta in Himachal Pradesh tomorrow. This will be in league with her unmatched way of bringing together lucid interpretations of famous thinkers and writers of realistic plays like Ibsen. The aim is to show that theatre is not only a popular art form, but also a tool for education and enlightenment.

‘Mirza Sahiban’, immortal folk tale of Punjab, would be presented in the ‘Naqlian’ style, oldest theatre form of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. Its director, Dr Yogesh Gambhir, Head of the university Department of Theatre and Television, has tried to improvise with the pace of the play and make an extensive use of masks, reminiscent of the Shakespearean Theatre.

“I have done this to present the folk tale in a contemporary way and introduce the audience to total theatre, that includes drama, dance, legend and music,” said Dr Gambhir. The aim was also to introduce students to the theatre of their roots. “Before exposing themselves to modern realistic drama, students should know theatre of their region,” he said.

Dr Navinindra Behl, a teacher of the same department, is directing ‘Nau Das Barah’ — a Punjabi story by Waryam Sandhu on economic deprivation and existential crisis. It portrays the life of a financially weak young man who wants to live a surrealistic life. The presentation is aimed at bringing forth the theatrical idiom of the story. Presented in the style of D.R. Ankur, Director of the National School of Drama (NSD), the play, says Dr Behl, will help students acquaint themselves with the drama in Punjabi literature.


Motor cycles for border patrol
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, October 28
The DGP Mr Sarabjit Singh Bhuller, flagged off 30 motor cycles for enhanced patrol in the sensitive border areas here today.

Special patrol is being undertaken in view of Divali festivities and fears of sabotage or other disturbances by Pakistan. The killing of two Pakistani nationals and arrest of one last evening by the BSF has added to the fears.

The DGP, who was here to lay the foundation stone of a canteen complex at the Police Lines, denied that SGPC members were being harassed. He also denied tension between other departments and the police.


BSF men shoot Pak intruder
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 28
BSF personnel shot dead Yunus (18), a resident of Naushad Aadi in Lahore district of Pakistan, who had intruded into the Indian territory last evening.

The BSF has also nabbed two Pakistani intruders at a border observation post in Rattan Khurd.


Sec 144 imposed near colleges
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 28
Mr Anurag Verma, District Magistrate, today said the trucks parked near the Sports Stadium caused problems to students of various educational institutes and could lead to an accident.

Sensing it as a threat to the law and order situation, he imposed Section 144, CrPC, in the area and ordered that no truck/canter etc be parked on the Goniana Road, near the stadium, Hanuman Chowk or educational institutes.


Police to probe death of cows

Ferozepore, October 28
With the death toll of cows, which consumed stale chapatis, rising to 52, a local court today ordered the Punjab police to initiate a probe into the incident.

District Magistrate D.K. Tiwari, who gave the orders, said here that even though the incident was not related to crime, the police could still look into the matter so that any criminal angle could be ruled out. UNI


Jagjit Zirwi enthrals
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 28
Television and radio artist Jagjit Zirwi cost a spell during a nearly two hour rendition of ghazals, particularly those of Shiv Kumar Batalvi, at Mini Tagore auditorium on Saturday on the second foundation day ceremony of Mehak Cultural Forum.

Zirwi struck a chord with the audience by singing “Sahare mat bana ae dil, sahara tut jaate hain”.

Jagjit delved into his experience of nearly three decades of ghazal singing. This included singing ghazals of noted ‘shairs’, including Galib, Momin, Mir, Ibne Insha and Batalvi.

Expressing his helplessness at the present law and order situation, he sang “ghar se niklo to pata jaib me rakh lo, haadsaa chehre ke pehchaan badal deta hain”. Communal harmony was visible when he sang “Ram walon ko Musalman se bu aati hai, Ahalaw islam ko bhagwan se bu aati hai”. Zirwi presented another form of gayaki when he sang some of the ghazals written by Batalvi which were well received by the audience.

Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) Member M P Pandove, who was the chief guest on the occasion, stressed for the need of popularising old art forms on the occasion. He was honoured by Mehak Cultural Forum president Dr Naresh Raj and general secretary Gurminder Walia.

Forum Chairman Harjinder Singh released a souvenir of the forum on the occasion.


Removal of encroachments ordered
Our Correspondent

Ropar, October 28
The Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain, today ordered the removal of roadside encroachments in Nangal town. The decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of administrative officers of the area at the Nangal Municipal Council office. The meeting was held to review the progress of various development projects of the town.

The president of the local Municipal Council, Mr Ranjit Singh Saini, told the Deputy Commissioner about the growing roadsides encroachments on the Nangal-Bhakra road, following which Ms Jain ordered that these be removed immediately.

In another major decision taken at the meeting, The Nangal Municipal Council agreed to take up the work of maintenance and operation of the Nangal bus stand. The renovation of the bus stand was started during the tenure of the previous government. However, for the past few months the work has come to a standstill due to paucity of funds.

It was decided that the local Municipal Council would make the incomplete bus stand functional. It would then operate it to recover its funds utilised in making it functional. The Deputy Commissioner later told newspersons that the proposal of the council was being sent to the Transport Ministry.


Woman held for son’s murder
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, October 28
The police has solved the murder case of Sonu Masih of Alludinpur village with the arrest of his mother Deepo and her suspected paramour.

Sonu was allegedly murdered in his house on October 20 and was cremated later on the same day by Deepo with the help of fellow-villagers and his ashes were also disposed of on the same night.

A press note issued here today by Mr R.N. Dhoke, Senior Superintendent of Police, said Deepo allegedly had illicit relations with Gurpal Singh, alias Gullu, of Sangojla village, which was opposed by his sons Sonu and Ranjit. Ranjit left the village on account of this and started living at Nawan Pind village.

On the other hand, Sonu lived with his mother and kept on asking her to end relations with Gurpal. Deepo and Gurpal allegedly hatched a conspiracy to eliminate Sonu. On the evening of October 20, when Sonu was alone in the house, Deepo and Gurpal allegedly bludgeoned him to death.

Deepo called Ranjit, who smelt foul play in the death. On being pressed, Deepo allegedly confessed to have killed Sonu along with Gurpal Singh. The police also received some information in this regard, following which Deepo and Gurpal were interrogated and both confessed their crime. The police arrested Deepo and Gurpal following the registration of a case under Section 302, 201, 506 and 34 of the IPC against them.


Petrol station owner booked
Our Correspondent

Bareta (Mansa), October 28
On a complaint of some Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta) activists and farmers, the police has booked the proprietor of the Kulrian petrol station for mixing kerosene with diesel.

According to information gathered by this correspondent, an employee of Kulrian Filling Station at Kulrian village told some farmers that no diesel stock was available. In the meantime, a tanker reached the petrol station and started filling the diesel tank with kerosene. The farmers, who were still standing there, noticed the diesel being adulterated and sent for the BKU (E) activists. The activists gheraoed the petrol station but the proprietor and his driver managed to escape.

Meanwhile, the Bareta police has registered a case under Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act against proprietor Bharat Bhushan Goyal and driver Nittu Singh, a resident of Dhanaula in Sangrur district. The petrol station has been sealed and the samples of the District food and Supply Controller, Mansa.

It has been further learnt that the petrol station is of the reserve category and its ownership has changed hands eight times.


2 bodies found
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 28
The body of Azad Kumar, a Junior Engineer employed with the Punjab State Electricity Board, was found today from thick vegetation along the Bathinda-Malout road, about 2 km from the Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant.

Mr Vijay Goyal, president, Sahara Jan Seva, in a press note issued here today said volunteers of the NGO were told by some unidentified people that a body was lying near the Bathinda-Malout road. He said the police was also informed and the body was later brought to the local Civil Hospital.

In another incident a body was fished out from the water channel of Chauke village, about 35 km from here. The body was putrefied and could not be identified. The post-mortem was conducted at the local Civil Hospital and the body was handed over to the workers of the NGO. The police has registered cases in this regard.


GND varsity youth fest begins
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 28
A two-day youth festival for colleges of education affiliated to Guru Nanak Dev University began at Khalsa College for Education here today.

While inaugurating the festival, Mr Sardool Singh Bhundala, Minister for Excise and Taxation, said the state government was committed to promote and preserve the cultural heritage of Punjab. He said festivals at educational institutes were a platform for students to display their artistic skills. Mr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor of university, was also present on the occasion.


Wooing voters with liquor
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 28
Liquor is being used to woo voters in a run-up to the annual elections of the Non-Teaching Employees Association at Guru Nanak Dev University.

Some marriage palaces are also being booked to lure voters and their supporters, sources revealed. The elections are scheduled for October 30.

Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, denied liquor parties on the campus, he said the university could not prohibit these outside the campus.


School holds annual function
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 28
Children of Kaintal School enthralled the audience with a varied display of song, dance and drama on their annual function here yesterday. The programme included a number of items in which each and every student of the school participated.

Children presented a ‘qawali’ in which they expressed their gratitude to their parents, a skit based on the movie ‘’the sound of music’’ as well as a Rajasthani dance sequence and traditional bhangra and giddha items. A skit based on a parody of Hindi film songs was specially well received by the audience.

Speaking on the occasion, the Principal, Ms Neena Dhundia, highlighted how the school had gone from strength to strength during the past five years. She said the school, which was only till Class VI right now, would soon have a senior section also. She said the school was focussing on all-round development of the child with focus on extra curricular activities and sports, including judo and swimming.

The Income Tax Commissioner Mr B M Singh, who was the chief guest, stressed the need of inculcating good habits in the students right from the onset. He said the manner in which young minds were shaped during their formative years was largely responsible for their actions in later life.


Pbi varsity youth fest schedule
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 28
Punjabi University has finalised its schedule for the zonal youth festivals to be organised in its affiliated colleges. The zones include Patiala, Sangrur, Mansa, Bathinda and Faridkot.

Giving this information, the Director, Youth Welfare, Mr Dalgit Singh, said the Ropar zone would comprise 19 colleges and its festival would be organised at Government College, SAS Nagar, from November 12 to 15. The festival for the Patiala zone would be organised at the Army Institute of Law from November 16 to 18. The festival for Mansa, Bathinda and Faridkot zones would be held at Guru Nanak College, Budhlada, from December 5 to 8 and for the Sangrur zone at S.D. College, Barnala, from December 18 to 21.

He said 3,500 students from various colleges would participate in the 28 items of the youth festival. Items like Western music would be introduced, he added. 

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