|Thursday, February 10, 2000,
soon, says PM
clarifies stand on RSS
case: CBI team in Malaysia
begins fresh recruitment drive
plea on President
misbehaved with Secy?
in IGNCA deed invalid
|India-Indonesia panel to bolster
NEW DELHI, Feb 9 India and Indonesia today took several steps including the setting up of a joint commission to take the bilateral ties to cherished Nehru-Sokarno era.
2 UP ministers quit in protest
in Kalkat case reserved
hold protest against wageboard proposals
Nairs film gets Golden Conch
for first phase ends today
Vananchal soon, says PM
BOKARO, Feb 9 (PTI) Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today sought to allay doubts about his governments determination regarding carving out of a separate tribal state from Bihar saying it would be a reality soon.
The bill for the purpose has been sent to the President, he said addressing an election meeting here.
Mr Vajpayee also gave an assurance of a special economic package for the rest of Bihar to compensate it for the loss of its mineral-rich region.
His assurance came in the wake of demand by a major NDA ally Samata Party that the rest of Bihar get a special package for its economic development in the event Vananchal was carved out of it.
Mr Vajpayee told newsmen at Ranchi airport that President K.R. Narayanan will send the Vananchal bill to the new Bihar Assembly after the polls to seek opinion on it.
The Centre, he said, is all set to introduce the bill in Parliament at the earliest possible date after it is returned by the state assembly with its opinion on it to the President.
He told the meeting here that his government had imposed Presidents rule to rid Bihar of RJD misrule and criticised the Congress and the left parties for the current state of affairs in the state.
He accused the Rabri Devi government of being steeped in corruption and said central funds for development were not properly utilised.
What is the justification for non-utilisation or misutilisation of even central funds by a state whose 58 per cent population lives below the poverty line?, he asked.
Mr Vajpayee charged the state government with failing to maintain law and order and said the business community was fleeing Bihar because of threat from extortionists and criminals.
Mr Vajpayee said Pakistan has a record of sponsoring terrorism and the recent hijacking of the Indian Airlines plane has substantiated the Indian charge.
JAMSHEDPUR (PTI): Mr Vajpayee accused the RJD government of establishing jungle raj in Bihar and said there would be no wrangling over chief ministership in the National Democratic Alliance if it was voted to power in the coming Assembly elections.
Addressing an election rally here, Mr Vajpayee said even in a jungle, there is a rule. But in Bihar, there is no rule at all.
Saying the NDA wanted to
bring about a change in the quality of governance in
Bihar, he said there would be no problem in
running a coalition government in the state as such an
arrangement at the Centre had already been working well.
Karunanidhi clarifies stand on RSS
CHENNAI, Feb 9 (PTI) A day after endorsing Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayees view that the RSS is a non-political, social movement, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi today said he was still against the Gujarat Government order permitting its employees to participate in RSS activities.
In a statement here, he sought to clarify his position on the plea that newspapers had given varying versions of what he had told mediapersons here yesterday on the subject.
Mr Karunanidhi said he would write a detailed letter to Mr Vajpayee asking him to advise the governments in states like Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh to give up their adamancy about letting their employees participate in RSS activities.
When there are several other problems facing the nation, this problem need not be given undue importance, he said.
The DMK president said he had stated even earlier that it was impossible to accept the view that the government servants could join the RSS. My opinion on this is still the same, he said.
This was because even though one could accept that the RSS was not a political but a social movement, one could see that RSS members were active in politics, he said.
We can see that the RSS, like many other social outfits, has political activities, he said.
Mr Karunanidhi said a government servant should be under the control of the government and the Constitution alone. In such a situation, if people participating in different movements were allowed to work in the same department, it would lead to conflict of views.
will then become debating podiums and seminar halls, and
administrative work will inevitably suffer, he
said, adding that there would be serious repercussions if
the trend spread to the police and the army.
NEW DELHI, Feb 9 The multi-million dollar deal for the purchase of 100,000 AK-47 assault rifles is a classic example of a deal which on the face of it, looked to be a clean and above board. But a closer look bring out several disturbing details.
Even while Indian soldiers were dying fighting the insurgents for lack of adequate equipment including AK-47 assault rifles, bureaucrats at the Ministry of Defence were placing objections to the proposal for the purchase of assault rifles saying the demand was temporary in nature and did not meet the General Staff Qualitative Requirement These remarks delayed the purchase of rifles.
Then when the AK-47 assault rifles did arrive after a delay of two years, they were to rust in Army stores for another eighteen months for lack of ammunition as the bureaucrats had initiated separate contracts for the guns and the munition.
While the contract for supply of AK-47 rifles was given to a Romanian firm, Romatehnica, the contract for the supply of ammunition was given to North Korea, which had neither the technical knowledge nor capacity to produce the ammunition. So while the guns came, the North Korean firm defaulted.
Even this was second time unlucky. For the MoD had initially agreed to purchase the assault rifles and ammunition from a Bulgarian firm M/s Teraton. The contract was for the supply of 100,000 AK-47s and 30 million rounds of ammunition.
Interestingly, the contract was subject to the firm obtaining an export licence from its government and did not have a default penalty.
Eventually the Bulgarian firm, could not supply the guns or munition as it failed to get a licence, allegedly because it was unable to put up a 10 per cent performance guarantee of around $ 7.5 million & required for an export permit.
The MoD had then invited bids for the second time for supply of the rifles and ammunition with Romatehnica for the supply of rifles at an approximate cost of $ 100 each and for munition with North Koreas firm, Mining Development General Trading Corporation, at an approximate cost of $ 70 per 1,000 rounds on June 23, 1995.
The first batch of 20,000 Romanian AK-47s came in March 1996, followed by 47,000 rifles in August 1996 and 30,000 in November 1996.
While the Army waited for the ammunition to arrive, a letter from the North Korean firm on dated June 11, 1996, pleaded that the firm could not supply the ammunition as there were heavy floods in the region. Besides, since there was rising tension between the two Koreas, the government had put a ban on exports.
The MoD then went back to the Romanian firm, and initiated a contract for ammunition. The last batch of ammunition came in December 1997, almost four years after the Army requisition for the AK-47s.
Interestingly, in a
letter to the MoD in January 1997, the Bulgarian firm
which had originally taken the order alleged that there
were three very serious irregularities in the signing of
contract The contract (No.15/2/92/D) was signed by
an unauthorised person, had no date and an Indian agent
was active in Sofia (lobbying against it).
Bofors case: CBI team in Malaysia
NEW DELHI, Feb 9 (PTI) In yet another effort to seek the extradition of controversial Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, a key accused in the Rs 1437-crore Bofors Gun deal payoff case, the CBI has sent a high-level team to Malaysia.
The Director of the CBI, Mr R.K.Raghavan, confirmed here today that the two-member team is holding discussions with the Malaysian authorities in Kuala Lumpur about the possibility of securing Quattrocchis extradition to India. He is alleged to have received part of the Rs 65-crore kickback in the deal.
During its stay in Kuala Lumpur, the team, comprising Special Director P.C.Sharma and the agencys legal adviser S.K. Sharma, would apprise the authorities there of various legal aspects relating to the case, he said.
This is the third time that the investigating agency has sent a team to Malaysia as earlier attempts to bring Quattrocchi, who has been denying involvement in the 155 mm Howitzer deal, failed to yield any tangible results.
The same team, which is now in Kuala Lumpur, had been deputed by the agency in December last year.
Another team of officials deputed by the CBI in 1997 to Kuala Lumpur, soon after the agency acquired the first set of Swiss Bank documents relating to the Bofors case from Berne, had failed to bring Quattrocchi due to the absence of any extradition treaty with Malaysia.
After taking cognisance of the CBIs chargesheet in the case, a special court here had issued fresh non-bailable warrants (NBW) against Quattrocchi and summoned former Defence Secretary S.K.Bhatnagar, former Bofors agent Win Chadha, former President of A.B.Bofors Martin Ardbo and Swedish firm Bofors, now renamed Celsius.
The CBI has alleged that Quattrocchis A.E.Services received $ 7.3 million while Chadhas Swenska got $ 27 million as kickbacks from A.B.Bofors for helping it in getting the gun deal signed during the Prime Ministership of Mr Rajiv Gandhi in March 1986.
Sources said though there is no extradition treaty between India and Malaysia, efforts were being made through diplomatic channels to persuade the Malaysian authorities to hand over Quattrocchi to the CBI.
Non-bailable warrants had also been issued by the special court here earlier during the investigation for his arrest but the warrants could not be executed.
Following dismissal of the petition filed by Quattrocchi in the Supreme Court seeking quashing of the arrest warrant against him, the CBI had reactivated the red corner and look-out notices issued against the accused through Interpol.
Lashkar begins fresh recruitment drive
NEW DELHI, Feb 9 (PTI) Pakistan-backed Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) has begun a new recruitment drive in Pakistan to meet the challenges being faced by its mercenaries from the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir, highly-placed sources in the Home Ministry said today.
Quoting media and intelligence reports, the sources said LET had called for volunteers from all over Pakistan and the top functionaries of the outfit including Hafiz Syed had been addressing gatherings in mosques at Lahore and Islamabad since February 5.
The group had suffered heavy casualty in the state from the security forces and a majority of its cadre had been arrested or killed, the sources said.
The move of the outfit, traditionally supported by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz faction, comes close on the heels of its losing patronage of those at the helm of affairs in Islamabad, the sources said.
The ISI has shifted its support from LET to Harkat-ul Mujaideen (HUM) after the military rule and is promoting the latter by providing money and sophisticated weapons.
This trend has been discernible in Pakistan for quite some time as LET had the patronage of sacked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif while HUM or Harkat-ul-Ansar has the support of Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf and former premier Benazir Bhutto. Some of the recently arrested militants have also stated that LET was desperately trying to create widespread panic in the state in order to please its ISI masters, the sources said.
Besides, the ISI wants that the Kashmir pot should be kept boiling till the US President Bill Clinton arrives in the sub-continent, the sources said.
Thousands of Kashmiri youth were waiting in PoKs Bagh district to cross over to the state for carrying out subversive activities, they added.
NCP plea on President
NEW DELHI, Feb 9 (UNI, PTI) The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) today expressed regret at the loss of respect and confidentiality between the Prime Ministers Office and Rashtrapati Bhavan.
NCP General Secretary and spokesman Devendra Nath Dwivedi said at a press conference here that exposing Rashtrapati Bhavan to public gaze is gross impropriety and the relationship between the two should have confidentiality.
He was commenting on a remark made by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee at a press conference that he would convey to the President the decision about the central government employees participation in the RSS activities.
This means that the Prime Minister is conveying the governments decision to the President through the media whereas the President should be first told about it, he remarked
The NCP spokesman said the communication between the President and the Cabinet under Article 78 was totally confidential and not subject to public gaze. They should have taken a public stand that their communication with the President was confidential and they would not publicly comment on the subject, he said.
He said the increasing trend of ministers making public statements about their communication with the President was highly improper and detracted from the unique character of the President-Cabinet relationship.
Mr Dwivedi also regretted the off and on statements and clarifications issued by Rashtrapati Bhavan describing the practice as against the established conventions of the Constitution. He said Rashtrapati Bhavan should not function as a centre of power.
The NCP leader criticised Home Minister L.K. Advani for his statement that the government was contemplating reviewing the existing ban on central government employees participation in the RSS and said the decision was unconstitutional and fraught with grave consequences.
Speaking on the issue, former Union Minister Madhu Dandavate took strong exception to Mr Vajpayees description of the RSS as a cultural organisation and said the entire top brass of the ruling party took political guidance from the Nagpur-based organisation at chintan baitaks at regular intervals.
In Bareilly, former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh joined the protests against government employees joining the RSS saying it was a political organisation for all practical purposes.
Minister misbehaved with Secy?
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, Feb 9 (UNI) Kerala Transport Minister and Janata Dal leader Dr A. Neelalohithdasan Nadar is in the eye of a storm with a local newspaper accusing him of having misbehaved with a senior woman IAS officer in his department and the Cabinet today deciding to shift the official concerned to another department.
Though Chief Minister E.K. Nayanar, Dr Nadar and the Transport Secretary in question, Ms Nalini Netto refused to comment on the newspaper report, Mrs Netto did hint that there was an issue.
When newspersons crowded her secretariat chamber, she first requested the TV cameras not to shoot her and later said she did not want to make any comment at this stage.
To repeated questions, Mrs Netto said: You know there is an issue involved.
Asked what exactly was the issue, she said whomever and whatever I have to inform, I have informed. I will let you know when it is the right time.
Earlier in the day immediately after a meeting of the Cabinet, Mr Nayanar announced the shifting of Mrs Netto from the post of Transport Secretary to the post of Taxes Secretary in the Department of Finance.
Asked if the shifting of Mrs Netto had anything to do with the newspaper report alleging misbehaviour by the Transport Minister, Mr Nayanar said her services were sought by Finance Minister T. Sivadasa Menon, who was also present at the post-Cabinet briefing.
Transport Minister Nadar told newsmen, who met him after the Cabinet briefing, that he was not aware of any complaint against him by the Transport Secretary.
He, however, said Mrs Netto was shifted from his department only at his request as she was not properly discharging the duties assigned to her.
Interestingly, while Mr Nayanar insisted that Mrs Netto was shifted on a request from the Finance Minister, Mr Nadar maintained that he had requested the Chief Minister to shift her.
Changes in IGNCA deed invalid
NEW DELHI, Feb 9 (PTI) The Centre in the Delhi High Court today questioned the validity of a suit filed by some sacked trustees of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA), saying the plaintiffs kept silent for over a year after they were informed that amendments to the trust deed were not acceptable to the government.
Why did not they (the trustees) approach the court for relief, Solicitor-General Harish Salve told Mr Justice J. B. Goel while giving a chronology of events from November 3, 1998, when the government wrote a letter to IGNCA informing that it did not approve the amendments made by the trustees in the deed in May 1995.
The trustees, by amending certain clauses of the deed, had made Sonia Gandhi life president of the trust and 21 other members as life trustees.
The government last month had removed Ms Gandhi from IGNCAs presidentship and sacked some trustees while appointing 15 new members in their place.
Contending that the amendments were aimed at providing benefit to certain persons, Mr Salve said the changes in the deed were illegal as no prior permission, as required, was sought from the government, a major financer of the trust.
Even after the
government informed IGNCA about the
Attorney-Generals opinion last year and made its
intention clear about an action against the amendments in
an affidavit before the high court while hearing a PIL,
the trustees never thought it fit to approach the court
for declaration suit, if in their opinion the government
move was against law, he said.
India-Indonesia panel to
NEW DELHI, Feb 9 India and Indonesia today took several steps including the setting up of a joint commission to take the bilateral ties to cherished Nehru-Sokarno era.
Addressing newspersons at a specially convened press conference at Vigyan Bhavan this evening just before his departure, the visiting Indonesian President, Mr Abdurrahamn Wahid, said the visit was a success as we agreed to take our relationship back to the times of President Sokarno.
Mr Wahid said the two countries had decided to set up a joint commission to have a better understanding on bilateral, regional and international issues.
He said summit-level meetings will be held every year to review the bilateral relations and to adopt fresh measures for giving required impetus to the existing ties.
A protocol was signed between MMTC and the Indonesia Chambers of Commerce for promotion of counter-trade.
To exploit oil and gas in Indonesia, the visiting President said India would have the airport facility at the nearby Indonesian island of Sabang which is near Nicobar.
Indonesia has also expressed the desire to buy electric locomotives from India for which an understanding was reached between IRCON and private buyers.
India is setting up a vocational training centre in Jakarta for providing training in agriculture and others vocation.
Mr Wahid invited investments from India to the tune of $ 100 million to $ 200 million.
2 UP ministers quit in protest
LUCKNOW, Feb 9 (PTI) A day after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Ram Prakash Gupta reallocated portfolios to some of his ministers, a BJP Quota Minister and another from the alliance partner the Jantantrik Bahujan Samaj Party (JBSP), resigned today taking strong objection to the arbitrary manner in which the reallocation was effected.
The two ministers who submitted their resignations to the Chief Minister are Mr Rakesh Dhar Tripathi (BJP) and Mr Munna Lal Maurya (JBSP), who protested against the reallocation of the portfolios. Both are ministers of state in the 89-member Gupta ministry.
Their resignations have not been accepted, an official spokesman said, adding that the Chief Minister has assured to look into their grievances.
Mr Maurya who submitted his resignation tonight, said he had urged the Chief Minister to change the portfolio which was not done and hence he had resigned. I have submitted my resignation to the Chief Minister and party president Narendra Singh, he said.
Verdict in Kalkat case reserved
NEW DELHI, Feb 9 (PTI) The Supreme Court today reserved its judgement on a petition by Union Government challenging the Delhi High Courts order quashing appointment of Lt Gen H R S Kalkat as the head of Armys sensitive Eastern Command.
The High Court had directed the Government to appoint Lt Gen R S Kadyan in place of Lt Gen Kalkat on the ground that the former was the senior of the two.
A Bench comprising Chief
Justice A S Anand, Justice S Rajendra Babu and Justice
Doraiswamy Raju reserved the order on Governments
petition after hearing Attorney General Soli J Sorabjee,
senior advocate P P Rao for Lt Gen Kadyan and senior
advocate Gopal Subramaniam for Lt Gen Kalkat.
Scribes hold protest against wageboard proposals
NEW DELHI, Feb 9 (PTI) A large number of journalists and non-journalists today staged a sit-in outside the Labour Ministers office here in protest against ridiculous pittance proposed in the tentative proposals of the Manisana Wageboard.
Addressing the gathering, Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) president S.K. Pande said the scribes and other employees were being victimised pending the wageboards final recommendations.
DUJ and the Delhi State Newspaper Employees Federation also submitted a memorandum to Labour Minister Satyanarain Jatia, saying the wageboard proposals have sent shock waves among employees in the newspaper industry, a DUJ release said.
The faulty DA
formula negates the concept of an All India Wage
Board, the release alleged, adding there were
certain irregularities in a few media
organisations where salaries for about four months were
yet to be paid.
Murli Nairs film gets Golden Conch
MUMBAI, Feb 9 (PTI) Murli Nairs acclaimed Malayalam fiction Throne of Death (Maranasimhasanam) and UKs Paul Bushs animation film The Albatross won the Golden Conch awards in the sixth Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF-2000) that concluded here today.
These awards in the international film category also carry a cash prize of Rs 2.5 lakh each.
The Golden Conch for the best non-fiction international video film went to Choir Boys by Magnus Isacsson from Canada while the top award for fiction went to September 11, 1973 The Last Stand of Salvador Allende by Patricio Henriquez (Canada/France). These awards carry Rs 1.5 lakh each.
The Golden Conch for the best non-fiction national video film went to The Shame is not Mine by Arun Chadha.
The international critics award went to Tales from the Reading Room by Minkie Spiro from UK while Blood Ink, directed by Carmen Gurani and Marcelo Cespedes of Argentina, got the international FIPRESCI critics jury special mention.
Campaign for first phase ends today
PATNA, Feb 9 (UNI) The campaign for the first phase of elections on February 12 in 108 Assembly constituencies in South Bihar will end tomorrow.
Prominent among those whose fate would be decided in the first phase are RJD President Laloo Prasad (Danapur), Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly and BJP candidate Sushil Kumar Modi (Patna-Central), BJP state President Nand Kishore Yadav (Patna-East), leader of the Congress legislature party Ramashray Prasad Singh (Konch) and former pradesh Congress President Sarfraj Ahmed (Gandey).
Altogether 1,290 candidates are in the fray in the 108 seats with more than 20 million electorate exercising its franchise in 26,566 polling stations of which most are identified as sensitive or hyper-sensitive.
The state government has declared all seats as sensitive and more than 400 companies of central paramilitary forces would be deployed along with several companies of the Bihar Military Police,75,000 district armed force and 30,000 homeguards to man the booths.
The Election Commission, apprehending large-scale violence, particularly in the extremism-affected Palamau, Chatra, Hazaribagh, Jehanabad and Rohtas districts, has constituted a standing committee comprising state Electoral Officer A.K Basu, state Director-General of Police K.A. Jacob and officers of the central forces to coordinate the security arrangements in those areas.
The Election Commission has exempted the deployment of local poll personnel in those polling stations falling under the extremist areas and additional police superintendents had been pressed into service to monitor the security measures.
After almost a decade-long rule by a single party,the election issue, automatically generated was the accusation that the government had not performed up to the peoples expectations. Thus, the RJD faced the brunt of anti-incumbency factor with its opponents pulling out all stops to overthrow the jungle rule.
The BJP, in its campaign, talks of giving it at least one chance in Bihar. Its two electoral partners, the Samata Party and the Janata Dal (United), after overcoming their initial problems on the subject of seat sharing, made common cause with the BJP, in projecting the total collapse of law and order situation and developmental activities going off the tracks as an electoral issue.
The CPI(ML), however, favours a peoples movement for reinstallation of democracy, improving living standards of the poor and crushing the mafia raj. The party maintains that a mere exchange of the power would not improve the lot of the people.
The RJD, however, had concentrated its attention on the alleged step-motherly treatment by the Centre and the attempt of the NDA to divide the state. The RJD supremo termed it as an attempt by the communal BJP and its allies to convert the mineral-rich belt as a colony of the RSS.
The RJD, after having
burnt its fingers in the last Lok Sabha elections, is
treading with caution while trying to convince the voters
that their poor living standard was due to the
step-motherly treatment by the Centre.
CUTTACK, Feb 9 (UNI) The Orissa police is geared up to face any eventuality in view of the poll boycott call given by Naxalites of the Peoples War Group (PWG), state police DIG (administration) Anup Patnaik said here today.
Mr Patnaik said special security measures had been taken in the Naxalite-dominated areas of the four southern districts of Malkangiri, Rayagada, Gajapati and Koraput to neutralise any attacks by the rebels.
Besides setting up of special picket posts in areas bordering Andhra Pradesh and intensifying police patrolling, several groups of the states special branch had been deployed to collect advance intelligence reports to combat any untoward incident, he said.
Stating that so far no major poll-related incident had been reported from any part of the state, including the four ultra dominated districts, the DIG said flag march by central para-military and state armed forces were conducted at several sensitive areas to instil confidence in the minds of the electors.
State police chief Bana Bihari Panda made an extensive tour of the areas going to the polls in the first phase on February 17, to review the law and order situation with senior police officers of the districts. Dr Panda had directed the police officers to remain vigilant as pressure on them would mount with the approach of the polling dates.
Mr Patnaik said against the states requirement of over 150 companies of central forces, 50 companies had been provided, while 30 companies of Central Para-Military Force (CPMF), comprising CRPF and Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh Special Reserve Police had already arrived. Twenty more companies would reach before February 12 to be deployed for the first phase of polling. The same force would be utilised for the second phase elections scheduled for February 22, he said.
For the first phase, Mr
Patnaik said 40 platoons of the Orissa State Armed Police
(OSAP) would be deployed along with 50 companies of CPMF,
ex-servicemen, ex-policemen, forest guards, home guards
and gram rakhis to ensure free and fair polls.
Arrest accused before poll, directs CEO
BHUBANESWAR, Feb 9 (UNI) Orissa Chief Electoral Officer Ardhendu Sekhar Sarangi has directed all District Magistrates and Police Superintendents to issue pending warrants and arrest all accused before the Assembly elections.
After reviewing the law and order situation with state DIG of Police A.K. Patnaik, Mr Sarangi ordered the district administration to make a list of all persons involved in criminal activities during the past elections held to Lok Sabha, Assembly, municipalities and panchayats since 1995 and take action against them after issuing warrants for smooth conduct of the polls.
The District Magistrates were also asked to review the steps taken against these persons during their tour to the areas.
Warning against the use of unregistered vehicles by candidates for electioneering, Mr Sarangi asked district officials to ensure that not more than three vehicles were used in campaigning.
He also wanted to ensure that vehicles were not used for transporting anti-social elements, weapons and narcotics during the poll.
assurance to traders
HVP leader joins
to check Sonia
Hooda: poll a
tortured for stealing roti
killed in Pak firing
Fare for Haj to
be Rs 12,000
Man gets death
instead of siddhi
casual leave en masse
UNESCO Gandhi award
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