Friday, April 28, 2000,
Chandigarh, India





punjab
P U N J A B

Kamaljit moves HC, seeks probe
CHANDIGARH, April 27 — Taking suo motu cognisance of the news items on Harpreet Kaur’s “mysterious death” along with a complaint filed by the world Human Rights Protection Council (WHRPC) the Punjab Human Rights Commission (PHRC) today directed the Director General of Police to ensure the safety of her “husband” Kamaljit Singh, his father Mr Darshan Singh and mother, Ms Balwinder Kaur, “by providing adequate security”.

Badal’s response to probe demand
CHANDIGARH, April 27 — In order to rebut the sharp and focused criticism over the mysterious death of Ms Harpreet Kaur, younger daughter of Bibi Jagir Kaur, president of the SGPC, the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today ordered an inquiry into the death.

SHSAD call to gherao MLAs
AMRITSAR, April 27 — The Sarb-Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) today asked the Sikh youths including activists of the All-India Sikh Students Federation, to ‘gherao’ ministers and pro-Badal MLAs when they visited their respective constituencies.

Rice mills project stayed
CHANDIGARH, April 27 — The Punjab Government today stayed the installation of six mills by Markfed in the state. Following instructions by the Punjab Cooperation Minister, Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, the Financial Commissioner (Cooperation), Mr K.S. Janjua directed Markfed authorities not to go ahead with the installation of six rice mills was concerned till further orders.

COMMUNITY

Improvement trusts to stay
LUDHIANA, April 27 — The improvement trusts of Punjab would continue to exist and the chairmen to the remaining 12 improvement trusts in the state would be nominated soon, said Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, Minister for Local Bodies, Punjab, here today.



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EARLIER STORIES
  Vets seek probe into equipment’s purchase
CHANDIGARH, April 27 — The Punjab State Veterinary Officers Association has demanded a high-level probe into the “unnecessary purchases” of equipment worth several crores made in the past years by the Animal Husbandry Department.

Fires destroy wheat crop
BATALA, April 27 — Standing wheat worth several lakhs was reduced to ashes in 10 incidents of fire in Batala subdivision during the past 24 hours.

Canadian minister praises Punjabis
HOSHIARPUR, April 27 — Mr Lynn Myers, Deputy Minister of Health Services Canada, lauded the role played by Punjabis in Canada while talking to this correspondent at the residence of Mrs Mohinder Kaur, State Minister for Health and Family Welfare here today.

Run-down jail houses 300
FARIDKOT: Deplorable conditions at the district jail complex here have been causing great inconvenience to inmates.

Duststorms likely in Punjab
CHANDIGARH, April 27 — The upper air cyclonic circulation, 1.5 km above sea level over Haryana and West Rajasthan coupled with a system lying over central Pakistan subsided heat wave conditions in most of north-west region, even though the day temperatures stayed one to five degrees above normal.

Institute’s call irks Sikh scholars
JALANDHAR, April 27 — A call by the Institute of Sikh Studies to “reject the Dasam Granth” had evoked strong protests from several quarters. These quarters have questioned the institute’s authority to make such demands under the garb of opposing the RSS, alleging it was being done to create confusion among the Sikhs.

Club ladies trade charges
PATIALA, April 27 — The Maharani Ladies Club, a 55-year-old organisation of the high-profile women of the city, is embroiled in a controversy. Two rival groups of members of its governing body headed by Mrs Pratibha Jain and Mrs Dolly Sadhana, respectively, have locked horns over the post of the President of the club. They are trading allegations of dictatorial attitude and anti-club activities against each other.

Farm technos demand pay parity
PATIALA, April 27 — Farm tecnocrats of the Agriculture, Horticulture, Animal Husbandry and Soil Conservation Departments held a rally in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office here today in support of their demands.

‘Eye donation should be encouraged’
PATIALA, April 27 — A symposium on “Corneal grafting and eye donation” held at the medical college here called for liberal legislation on cornea procurement, funding of eye banks, both by the government and social agencies, and a planned policy or scheme to educate the masses about safety and the need for cornea transplantation.

League resents delaying tactics
LUDHIANA, April 27 — The Indian Ex-Services League (Punjab and Chandigarh) expressed its displeasure over the delaying tactics of the government about the implementation of the recommendations of the Fifth Pay and Pension Commission.

CRIME

Two killed in road accident
MALERKOTLA, April 27 — Mr Rakesh Kumar Sharma, alias Kechhi (35), Municipal Councillor, and Mr Gursharan Singh, alias vickey (30), were killed in a road accident near Sangala village, 6 km from here, last night.

EDUCATION

Finance Minister meets PAU experts
LUDHIANA, April 27 — The Punjab Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, today held a meeting at Punjab Agricultural University to finalise a strategy to implement a Rs 2000 crore initiative to end stagnation in the field of agriculture.

AIFUCTO backs Bihar teachers
AMRITSAR, April 27 — The national executive of the All-India Federation of University and College Teachers Organisations (AIFUCTO) has condemned Bihar and Orissa government for UGC pay scales.

NFL reinstates Principal
NANGAL, April 27 — In a volte-face the NFL management has reinstated, Mr Gurcharan Singh, Principal of Fertilisers Senior Secondary School. The Principal was “retired” last month, according to the initial entry in his service book, his date of birth was March 17, 1937.

Annual charges arbitrary, allege RIMA students
CHANDIGARH, April 27 — The Punjab Technical University BBA/BCA Students’ Grievance Committee today accused the Regional Institute of Management and Administration of charging arbitrary annual charges from students who had sought admission to Bachelor of Computer Application and Bachelor of Business Administration courses during the 1997-98 academic session.

BUSINESS

Minister visits Khanna mandi
LUDHIANA, April 27 — Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Minister of State for Food and Supplies, yesterday visited Khanna mandi. The minister examined the working of commission agents and also checked the weight of filled bags. Mr Mittal was accompanied by Deputy Director (field) Patiala Division, District Food and Supplies Controller, Ludhiana, Food and Supply Officer, Khanna and officers of other agencies and the Mandi Board.
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Kamaljit moves HC, seeks probe
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, April 27 — Taking suo motu cognisance of the news items on Harpreet Kaur’s “mysterious death” along with a complaint filed by the world Human Rights Protection Council (WHRPC) the Punjab Human Rights Commission (PHRC) today directed the Director General of Police to ensure the safety of her “husband” Kamaljit Singh, his father Mr Darshan Singh and mother, Ms Balwinder Kaur, “by providing adequate security”.

Pronouncing the order in the open court, the PSHRC Chairperson, Justice V.K. Khanna, and member, Justice J.S. Sekhon, observed: “From the news item appearing in the English daily, The Tribune, dated April 26, 2000, it appears that Kamaljit Singh and his father and mother have expressed apprehension that there was grave threat to their lives”.

The Bench directed: “The DGP after receiving the orders from the commission will immediately look into the matter and ensure their safety by providing adequate security”.

In their detailed order, the Bench observed: “The Bench has perused the various news items published in English and Hindi dailies from April 25 to April 27 regarding the mysterious death of Harpreet Kaur, daughter of Bibi Jagir Kaur, and the grave threat expressed in those newspapers by Kamaljit Singh and his parents. After perusal, the Bench is of the opinion that it is a case fit for taking suo motu cognisance”.

The Bench also ordered the consolidation of the suo motu case and the complaint case filed by the Chairman of the World Human Rights Protection Council, Mr Ranjan Lakhanpal.

Meanwhile, claiming to have secretly married Harpreet Kaur, Mr Kamaljit Singh, in a petition seeking investigation into his “wife’s mysterious and suspicious death”, stated that his poverty and humble status were the reasons behind Bibi Jagir Kaur’s disapproval of their alliance.

In his petition filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court today, the petitioner also stated that they had “decided to marry each other secretly and then seek blessings of Harpreet Kaur’s family as otherwise the permission would not have been forthcoming or would not have been granted”.

The petitioner, his counsel added, having known Harpreet Kaur could vouchsafe and state that she was the last person to commit suicide. The facts of the case, the counsel added, “gave rise to a strong suspicion in the petitioner’s mind that the death was unnatural”.

Seeking directions for registering a case “against all those found responsible for causing Harpreet Kaur and her child’s death”, the petitioner also asked for handing over the probe to an independent agency like the CBI. Directions for fixing responsibility on persons involved in the “disappearance of evidence” were also sought.

Counsel added that “on account of political power and influence wielded by Bibi Jagir Kaur, the case relating to Harpreet Kaur and her child’s death would be hushed up and all those responsible for the same would not be touched”.

He further added that the facts and circumstances “clearly indicated that efforts were being made to hush up the case”. Counsel also stated that “it was in these circumstances that the petitioner, who has love and affection for the departed soul, has decided to take up the issue and fight with the might of the state”.Top

 

News analysis
Badal’s response to probe demand
By Gobind Thukral
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, April 27 — In order to rebut the sharp and focused criticism over the mysterious death of Ms Harpreet Kaur, younger daughter of Bibi Jagir Kaur, president of the SGPC, the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today ordered an inquiry into the death. Also, the government feared adverse action by the Punjab and Haryana High Court where at least three writ petitions have been filed. The government was keen on finding an answer to the demand for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Mr Badal had taken the decision last evening and the Director General of Police had been asked to hand over the inquiry to a senior police officer. But the announcement was held back as Mr Badal was keen on not hurting the feelings of Bibi Jagir Kaur. The bhog ceremony of Harpreet was held today at Begowal village.

The police chief today issued a five-line order which did not even mention who Ms Harpreet Kaur was. It merely said, ‘‘Mr Iqbal Singh, SSP, deputed by this office on April 25, 2000 to get enquiries conducted into the death of Bibi Harpreet Kaur. Consequent upon the directions of the Chief Minister, Mr K.K. Attri, IGP (Crime) has now been directed to inquire into the matter and form a special team for this purpose’’.

Would this satisfy the family into which the Ms Harpreet Kaur had been married to or those publicmen who have raised a voice of protest? No. They are all asking for a CBI probe.

‘‘In the manner Harpreet’s cremation took place and in the way the last remains were collected within hours and then immersed into a river, it destroyed all evidence. No scientific tests are possible to establish whether Harpreet Kaur was pregnant and had delivered a baby boy and under what circumstances she had died. Only evidence is with the family of her-in-laws and they would be scared of talking about it. The Chief Minister had rushed to the cremation and then had been rendering all help to Bibi Jagir Kaur. What confidence this enquiry can create’’? asked former Punjab minister and leading Akali MLA, Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal.

This is what other leaders from the Congress, CPI, CPM and the Sarb Hind Akali Dal had been demanding. At least a CBI probe into the murder, since Bibi Jagir Kaur is a powerful person and the Chief Minister is backing her, these leaders have demanded.

But Mr Badal must have calculated all this since he too had been busy consulting his colleagues, lawyers and even Bibi Jagir Kaur. For the government side an enquiry by an Inspector General of Police is what it could do.

Also, Mr Badal is not going to oblige his opponents by asking Bibi Jagir Kaur to step down. Political calculations in the ruling Akali Dal are that such an action would be against the interest of the party, although there is growing feeling that she must go. Second, and most important consideration before the Chief Minister once again is of finding a replacement for Bibi.

He would not like to have Mr Balbir Singh Pannu at present senior vice-president of the SGPC since this would strengthen the hands of cooperation minister, Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura and annoy his son-in-law, Mr Adesh Partap Singh and his father Mr Surinder Singh Kairon. This would disturb the power balance in the volatile Majha region. Second choice of having senior Akali leader Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi is also not acceptable as Mr Badal does not want another power centre in the Malwa region. These were the considerations earlier when Bibi picked up a big row with the then Akal Takht chief Giani Puran Singh. Mr Badal has finally to protect her at a considerable political cost.Top

 

Kamaljit ‘working’ for Oppn

CHANDIGARH, April 27 (PTI) — Elder brother of SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur has demanded registration of a police case against Kamaljit Singh, “lover” of Bibi’s daughter Harpreet Kaur, for maligning the position of head of top religious body and “abduction” of her daughter.

“I have never seen this boy (Kamaljit), but if in case there was any relation between Harpreet Kaur and Kamaljit Singh then police must register a case against him for abducting a minor girl”, Prof Nirmal Singh, 10 years older to Bibi Jagir Kaur told PTI here.

A senior Professor in the Physics Department of Panjab University here, he is one of the three elder brothers of Bibi Jagir Kaur. He said that it was for sure that there was no relation between Harpreet and the boy. However, he added, if at all there was something between the two, then it was one-sided.

“Harpreet was minor as she was to complete her 18 years in the month of June, he said adding that all that was being reported in the media was a concocted story.

“I don’t know the boy, but this much I know that his parents, who are already booked under several criminal cases, do not carry good repute,” he said, adding that they (Kamaljit Singh’s) parents could go to any extent to make money.

He said that if Kamaljit was in love with the girl, he could have approached any one of us. “I would have certainly helped the boy to reach an understanding,” he said.

Kamaljit Singh is working on the behest of opposition parties with an aim to take political mileage of the situation, he alleged.

“His (Kamaljit) intentions are mala fide because his parents, who are travel agents, have contacts with a politician of Begowal who is trying to tarnish the image of Bibi Jagir Kaur,” he further alleged.

He said that all the hue and cry raised by the opposition about Harpreet’s cremation and a post-mortem examination did not carry weight.

There was sufficient time for the cremation of Harpreet and nothing was hushed up, he claimed, adding that the ashes were immersed on the same day because it is accepted that to ward off evil this has to be done on the day of cremation itself in the case of elder girl.Top

 

SHSAD call to gherao MLAs
From Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, April 27 — The Sarb-Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) today asked the Sikh youths including activists of the All-India Sikh Students Federation, to ‘gherao’ ministers and pro-Badal MLAs when they visited their respective constituencies.

Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President, SHSAD, said the youths should ask the ministers and MLAs to part company with Mr Badal. “Ask them whether they were voted to power for denigrating Akal Takht”, he said.

Rejecting the inquiry ordered by the Punjab Government into the death of Harpreet Kaur, daughter of Bibi Jagir Kaur, SGPC Chief, Mr Tohra said a retired judge of the High Court should be entrusted with the job.

Mr Tohra was here in connection with the delegate session of the All-India Sikh Students Federation (Gill). At the session, Mr Harminder Singh Gill was re-elected President.

Mr Tohra said the Inspector General of Police (Crime), who had been entrusted with the inquiry, could not do justice as the “Chief Minister was present when evidence was being destroyed”.

To a question, Mr Tohra admitted that many pro-Badal MLAs were in touch with his party. Though Mr Tohra refused to give any time limit for “toppling” Mr Badal, he said the “explosion” would occur shortly.

Mr Ravi Inder Singh, MLA said Mr Badal would be ousted in a few days. “First of all, we have to oust him as President of the Shiromani Akali Dal”, he said. He also described the inquiry ordered into the death of Harpreet Kaur as a mere “eyewash”.

Mr Sukhjinder Singh, a former Akali minister, an archrival of Bibi Jagir Kaur, said he had enough proof that Harpreet Kaur had been murdered. “The alleged paramour of Harpreet Kaur met me about four years ago and sought protection from the police”, he said, alleging that Bibi Jagir Kaur had asked the police to stop him from meeting Harpreet.

After his re-election as President of the AISSF, Mr Harminder Singh Gill said he would continue to work for upholding the “maryada” of Akal Takht. The AISSF would launch a campaign in this regard, he said.

He reiterated that the federation would continue to consider Bhai Ranjit Singh as the “real Jathedar” of Akal Takht.

Meanwhile, the patron of Punjab Istri Sabha, Mrs Vimla Dang, today supported the demand for a CBI probe into Harpreet’s death.

The veteran CPI leader lashed out at the Chief Minister who she alleged was responsible for the “coverup operation” to destroy evidence in the case.

Mrs Dang made an appeal to the National Commission for Women and the Human Rights Commission to intervene.Top

 

JD(S) demands CBI probe
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, April 27 — The state unit of the Janata Dal (S) yesterday demanded a CBI probe into the sudden and unnatural death of Harpreet Kaur, daughter of Bibi Jagir Kaur, under mysterious circumstances.

In a press release issued here, Mr Harish Khanna, convener of the JD (S), asked the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, since he holds the portfolio of the Home Ministry, as to why Harpreet Kaur was cremated in such a hurry. He further asked why the post-mortem examination was not conducted before the cremation.

Mr Khanna alleged that the evidence was being tampered with in connivance with the state Chief Minister so as to ensure that the truth is not revealed.
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Politicians cashing in on Harpreet’s death: SAD
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, April 27 — for the first time reacting officially on the Harpreet death case, the Shiromani Akali Dal headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal said today that just to cash in on the tragic death of Harpreet Kaur, politicians of all hues were making unnecessary statements and false allegations against Mr Badal.

The Secretary of the SAD, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, said that it was a well-designed and prepared campaign against Mr Badal by politicians, rejected by people. He condemned all statements issued against Mr Badal and hoped that “wise people of Punjab would be able to understand the conspiracy of politicians against Mr Badal.”
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Rice mills project stayed
By Sarbjit Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, April 27 — The Punjab Government today stayed the installation of six mills by Markfed in the state. Following instructions by the Punjab Cooperation Minister, Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, the Financial Commissioner (Cooperation), Mr K.S. Janjua directed Markfed authorities not to go ahead with the installation of six rice mills was concerned till further orders.

Markfed authorities, confirmed that an order from the Punjab government had been received stopping action regarding the six rice mills. Markfed has signed an agreement with a South Korean firm for supplying machinery for six mills to be installed in the constituencies of influential politicians. The deal for purchase of machinery was worth Rs 14. 60 crore.

The Tribune had broken the story today highlighting two different opinions of two official delegations of the Punjab government regarding the machinery for the mills.

Markfed delegation comprised the Chairman, Mr Jagdish Singh Walia, the Managing Director, Mr D.S. Bains and Chief Manager (projects and equipment), Mr S.S. Shergill. It visited South Korea from February 18 to 25. On return home, Markfed authorities quickly processed the whole case and its board of directors approved the same on March 14. However, most of the directors belonging to the Congress party stayed away from the meeting. And even the Registrar of Cooperative Societies and the Financial Commissioner (Cooperation) did not attend the meeting and preferred to send their nominees.

The Punjab State Cooperative Markfed Employees Union was first to raise the banner of revolt against the deal signed by Markfed with the Korean firm about the mills. The union has stated that as already a former Managing Director of Markfed had rejected the proposal regarding the installation of mills by declaring it as unviable, there was no need to revive the same. The union has stated that not only existing rice mills but also almost all other plants were in the red except one pesticide unit in SAS Nagar.

But, the second delegation led by the Punjab Food and Supply Minister, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, who visited the South Korea from April 5 to 13, reached the conclusion that claims made by the South Korean firm regarding efficiency of machinery to be supplied for rice mills to Markfed, have been found a bit exaggerated.

Mr Mittal had told TNS that “it was evident that the geo-climatic and paddy agronomic practices differed vastly in Korea and Punjab. Close questioning and having seen actual performance, the team could not get a firm commitment from the Korean firm that the output of rice will be as high as 73 per cent as was being stated in Punjab conditions”.

Informed sources said that the report appeared in The Tribune was presented before the cooperation minister and after going through it, he immediately directed the authorities concerned to stop Markfed from proceeding further in the rice mills case.

Meanwhile, the union has urged the cooperation minister to order a high-level probe into the entire deal and visit of Markfed delegation to Korea and to fix responsibility in this connection. The union has stated that decisions were being taken in a very hasty manner without guarding the interest of the organisation and authorities concerned were out to destroy Asia’s biggest cooperative institutions.Top

 

Improvement trusts to stay
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, April 27 — The improvement trusts of Punjab would continue to exist and the chairmen to the remaining 12 improvement trusts in the state would be nominated soon, said Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, Minister for Local Bodies, Punjab, here today.

Talking to mediapersons on the occasion of Mr Madan Mohan Vyas taking over as the new Chairman of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust, Mr Tandon said all 21 improvement trusts in the state would start functioning normally as the government had decided that they would not be merged with any other body like PUDA nor would they be disbanded. The nominations for the trusts would be over by the first week of May, Mr Tandon said.

On the delay in the introduction of the new Municipal Corporations’ Act, Mr Tandon said the no objection certificates of the 11 departments concerned of the 12 had been obtained.

In addition, the assent of the President for repealing the existing Municipal Corporation Act, 1976, was being awaited as it was introduced during the President’s rule in 1976. In the meantime, he said, the objections raised by the department concerned, if any, could be removed.

To a question on the work of improvement trusts having suffered in the absence of chairmen for so long, Mr Tandon said alternative arrangements had been made by giving additional charge to competent authorities with strict instructions to ensure that the work did not suffer.

Mr Tandon congratulated the people for having Mr Vyas as the new Chairman, who, he said, was honest, hard working and sincere and had a deep understanding of the local problems.

Mr Vyas said he would do his best to win people’s faith and establish credibility of this institution in the minds of the people.

The take-over ceremony was attended by Mr Daya Singh Sodhi, state BJP chief, Mr Rakesh Pandey, a local MLA, Mr Apinder Singh Grewal, Mayor, Ludhiana Municipal Corporation, apart from prominent citizens of the city.

PHAGWARA: Cracks appeared in the ruling SAD-BJP combine here on Tuesday when all Akali leaders and workers boycotted a public function organised in connection with the assumption of office by BJP stalwart Om Parkash Gupta as Chairman of the local improvement trust.

Mr Tandon, the Punjab Tourism Minister, Mr Swarna Ram, and Mr Sodhi were among those who attended the take-over ceremony.

In a press note, Jathedar Gurmukh Singh, president, Akali Dal, Phagwara circle and Mr Jatinderpal Singh Palahi, secretary-general of the circle, declared that Akalis would continue to boycott all functions of SAD-BJP ministers till the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, redressed their grievances after coming to Phagwara. A meeting of Circle Jatha alleged that Akalis had been continuously sidelined by their own government. They said not a single Akali representative was taken on the local trust. The flashpoint came when the post of the trust’s Chairman also went to the BJP after nomination of BJP men as members.Top

 

Vets seek probe into equipment’s purchase
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, April 27 — The Punjab State Veterinary Officers Association has demanded a high-level probe into the “unnecessary purchases” of equipment worth several crores made in the past years by the Animal Husbandry Department.

Addressing a press conference here, Dr Gurcharan Singh Chahal, president of the association, said equipment worth several crore was lying unutilised for the past several years at various places. Giving an instance, he said equipment worth Rs 2.5 crore was lying unused in the semen bank of the department at Patiala.

He said while 45 castrators were lying utilised in the semen bank out of purchase of Rs 40 lakh made by the Nabha farm of the department, another order to procure castrators worth Rs 50 lakh had been placed by department.

He said while placing the order the standing committee of the department had been ignored. Interestingly, most of the equipment had been imported from France and Italy through a private firm based in Delhi. He said no proper inspection had been done by the committee set up by the department to inspect the purchased equipment. Same equipment had been purchased under different names at different rates, he alleged.

While a castrator in the open market was available of Rs 1000, the department bought it for Rs 6084 in 1997. And now an order had been placed to procure the castrator at Rs 3300. Why such differences in rates, Mr Chahal questioned.

Even imported equipment had not been utilised, he said. He said the association was ready to reveal more startling information regarding purchases made by the department in recent years if an inquiry was ordered regarding this. He said that though everything was brought in the notice of the minister concerned, no action had been taken in this connection.

While crores had been spent on the purchase of the equipment of no use, a majority of veterinary hospitals and dispensaries were without medicines.

Talking about the vaccination programme, he said as the department had fixed charges for vaccination, the doctors could not make people to accept vaccination programme of the government.

Mr Chahal said as neighbouring states were providing free vaccination for animals, the Punjab Government should also follow the same pattern.
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Fires destroy wheat crop
From Tribune Reporters and PTI

BATALA, April 27 — Standing wheat worth several lakhs was reduced to ashes in 10 incidents of fire in Batala subdivision during the past 24 hours.

In a major fire incident, nearly 45 acres of wheat belonging to 17 farmers was destroyed at Kotli Surat Malhi village, near here.

At least 3 acres of wheat was destroyed in a fire at Bhagowaal village. Two acres of wheat was destroyed at Batala, one at Sekhupura, and 3 acres at Ghas Kaler village, fire brigade sources said here today.

MUKTSAR: High-tension electricity wires passing over fields have been continuously playing havoc with the wheat crop in this region and many fire incidents have been reported in the district since Tuesday.

Standing wheat crop in six acres belonging to Balwinder Singh of Sotha village was reduced to ashes when it caught fire due to a spark in the overhead high-tension power cables.

In another incident, wheat crop in 10 acres belonging to Charanjit Singh and Gurdeep Singh (brothers) of Doda village, was engulfed by a fire which took place due to sparking in electricity wires passing over their fields.

Similarly, standing wheat crop in 10 acres of Doda village, belonging to Bhagha Singh, was destroyed by fires. In Innakhera village, wheat crop in eight acres was reduced to ashes when it caught fire from a spark from electricity wires.

In Bathinda district, in two incidents of fire, wheat crop worth thousands of rupees was destroyed at Bangi and Amargarh villages.

Mr B.S. Sudan, Deputy Commissioner, Muktsar, said a majority of these fires were, caused by sparks from electricity wires. He said the district administration was making efforts to provide compensation to farmers who had suffered losses.

PHAGWARA: Wheat in two marlas was reduced to ashes on the Palahi road on the outskirts of the town on Wednesday.

However, timely action by firemen saved a major loss.

In another incident, wheat chaff piled up along houses caught fire at Darveshpind 8 km from here, on Wednesday.

Gurdaspur: Three cases of burning of wheat from three villages have been reported in this sub-division since Tuesday.

Twenty acres of standing wheat at Bariar village belonging to Dilbag Singh, Surian Singh, Partap Singh, Mohan Singh and Gurrej Singh was reportedly burnt. Another 5 acres of standing wheat crop at Paniar village and 2 acres at Giderpindi village was also burnt. The total loss due to the fires has been estimated to be more than Rs 3.5 lac.

TARN TARAN: Hundreds of acres of standing wheat was burnt on Wednesday due to a short circuit when a heavy wind lashed the area.

As many as 100 acres of standing wheat belonging to Gurbax Singh, Mukhtar Singh, Jagtar Singh, Sawarn Singh, Shangara Singh and others was burnt due to the fire.

Standing wheat in 30 acres at Bhojian village, 15 acres at Naushera Dhalla village, 25 acres at Panjwar, three acres at Kasel, 15 acres at Dhotian, 16 acres at Gulalipur village was also burnt in a fire. Mr Maninder Pal Singh Toni, general secretary, Kisan Mahan Sabha, Mr Balwinder Singh Chabal of the Human Rights Wing (SAD), Mr Dilbag Singh, ex-sarpanch of Gandiwind village have demanded compensation for the farmers and have condemned the authorities for not sending firemen at Gandiwind village where 100 acres of wheat was burnt.

People have demanded fire brigade facility at all police stations during the harvesting season to check any uneventuality.Top

 

Canadian minister praises Punjabis
From Our Correspondent

HOSHIARPUR, April 27 — Mr Lynn Myers, Deputy Minister of Health Services Canada, lauded the role played by Punjabis in Canada while talking to this correspondent at the residence of Mrs Mohinder Kaur, State Minister for Health and Family Welfare here today.

Mr Myers is on a private visit to India to meet families of electorates of his constituency Waterloo-Wellington, Canada. He was accompanied by an NRI, Mr Gogi Sidhu.

Mr Myers said he had visited the Civil Hospital at Jalandhar, Golden Temple Complex, Amritsar and a number of educational and health institutions in the state during his visit. He was impressed with the work being done by the health staff, especially nurses and was all praise for their dedication. However, he said a lot of improvement was required in health facilities and for this a common programme between India and Canada should be initiated. He said the standard of living in villages in the state was much better than that in other developing countries.

Ms Mohinder Kaur presented a memento to him.Top

 

Run-down jail houses 300
From Romesh Gupta

FARIDKOT: Deplorable conditions at the district jail complex here have been causing great inconvenience to inmates.

According to reports, the bars used in the reinforced brickwork on roofs in most barracks and cells have rusted. Similarly bricks and mortars below the steel bars have been falling at several places. ‘Kallar’ or salinity has badly damaged the bricks and the plaster on the walls of the barracks up to a height of 5 ft due to damp-proof material not being used during the construction of the building about 70 years ago.

Even PWD officials and a number of architects, who were to time to inspect the building from time have also declared the structure unsafe.

Mr Justice Iqbal Singh, a Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, accompanied by Mr H.P. Handa, District and Sessions Judge, Faridkot, who visited the jail complex some time back, also expressed concern over the pitiable condition of the building.

Despite the poor condition of the jail, more than 300 undertrial prisoners and convicts are being kept in 39 barracks and cells in the complex. Non-appointment of a permanent medical officer for several years at the jail has been another problem in providing proper medical aid to the inmates. A pharmacist has been performing the work of a doctor.

Owing to the prevailing conditions, the women’s cell was closed about 25 years ago. The income from agriculture land attached to the district jail for the welfare of the undertrials has also gone down following poor irrigation facilities.

When contacted Mr Gurdial Singh, Superintendent of the jail, said despite many shortcomings, the jail administration has been making efforts to provide the best possible facilities to prisoners.Top

 

Duststorms likely in Punjab

CHANDIGARH, April 27 (UNI) — The upper air cyclonic circulation, 1.5 km above sea level over Haryana and West Rajasthan coupled with a system lying over central Pakistan subsided heat wave conditions in most of north-west region, even though the day temperatures stayed one to five degrees above normal.

Two systems were likely to cause light to moderate rains at a few places and thunder squalls exceeding 45 km per hour in velocity at isolated places in Himachal Pradesh over the next two days. Dust-raising winds were likely to hit some places in Punjab and Haryana besides Rajasthan over the next 24 hours.

Reports available here said in Rajasthan the maximum temperature in Jaipur, Sri Ganganagar and Jodhpur hovered between 42C and 44C.

Hisar as usual continued to be the hottest place in Haryana at 44C, plus five, followed by Gurgaon (39.2C). In Punjab Amritsar was the hottest place at 40.2C, four degrees above normal.

Palam (Delhi) reported 1.6 mm of rainfall till 8.30 this morning as the maximum temperature hovered around 39C. Safdarjung reported traces of rains overnight.

Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, saw the day temperature rising to 25.7C, five degrees above normal while the winter capital, Jammu reported the highest temperature of 36C, one degree above normal.

Shimla in Himachal Pradesh was also warm at 24.8C, four degrees above normal.

The mercury in and around Chandigarh rose to 37.6C today against 36.8C yesterday. It was just a degree above normal.Top

 

Institute’s call irks Sikh scholars

JALANDHAR, April 27 (PTI) — A call by the Institute of Sikh Studies to “reject the Dasam Granth” had evoked strong protests from several quarters. These quarters have questioned the institute’s authority to make such demands under the garb of opposing the RSS, alleging it was being done to create confusion among the Sikhs.

The Institute of Sikh Studies had passed a resolution after the meeting on April 7 claiming that the bulk of the ‘Dasam Granth’ text was composed by Vaishnav and Brahminical scholars and not by the Tenth Sikh Guru and should, therefore, be rejected by the community.

“The leaders of antagonistic faiths and social orders have adopted this book in a big way and are using it as a lever to destroy the image of the Tenth Guru and also the integrity of the Sikh Faith. This is the approach of the RSS and its allies which are seeking to establish ‘Hindu pad padshahi’ in place of the present set-up in India”, the resolution passed by the institute had said.

The institute had earlier been associated with drafting of the Sikh Gurdwara Bill, 1999 which was mired in controversy as it attempted to change the definition of a “Sikh” and also removed the bar on liquor consumption. The Bill sought to replace the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925.

Advocate Gurcharanjit Singh Lamba, said the latest move of the institute was “irrational, motivated and an act of sacrilege”.

The Social and Panthic Watchdog Group, another think-tank of the community which was among the first to question the Nanakshahi calendar and the Sikh Gurdwara Bill, has also taken exception to the institute’s resolution.

“Except for the genuine ‘bani’ (hymns) of the Tenth Guru, contents of this book are highly repugnant to the doctrines of the Sikh Faith and the practice of Sikhism, the resolution had said, but many from the community have protested against the use of such language for describing the Dasam Granth.

Mr Lamba said if the institute considered only certain scriptures as “genuine compositions” by the Tenth Guru, it should specify which compositions were not.

Senior leader of the G.S. Tohra-led Sarb-Hind Akali Dal Jagjit Singh Gaba also slammed the institute for giving a call to reject the Dasam Granth. He said the Dasam Granth guaranteed the Sikhs a separate identity.

Mr Lamba said the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, a frontal forum of the RSS, did not refer to the Dasam Granth in its constitution and rather had “propagation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib in all languages of India” as one of its prime objectives. Even the vary emblem (logo) of the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat contained words from Guru Nanak’s hymns.

Mr Lamba asked now that the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat had listed propagation of Guru Granth Sahib as its objective, would the institute ask the Sikhs to discard the holy scriptures “The need of the hour is to rather understand the subtle moves of the RSS and its frontal organisation, the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, instead of creating controversies over the community’s scriptures like the Dasam Granth”.Top

 

Club ladies trade charges
From Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, April 27 — The Maharani Ladies Club, a 55-year-old organisation of the high-profile women of the city, is embroiled in a controversy. Two rival groups of members of its governing body headed by Mrs Pratibha Jain and Mrs Dolly Sadhana, respectively, have locked horns over the post of the President of the club. They are trading allegations of dictatorial attitude and anti-club activities against each other.

Mrs Jain, President of the club, has claimed support of the majority of over 200 ladies of the club while the rival group claims a no-confidence motion against her had been passed.

Interestingly, most of the members of Mrs Sadhana’s group have been suspended for alleged anti-club activities by Mrs Jain.

Talking to The Tribune about their infighting, both groups claimed they were working for the betterment of the club.

Mrs Sadhana said Mrs Jain was chosen President as per the constitution rules, but after her appointment, she started behaving in a dictatorial manner and indulged in anti-club activities by neglecting and ignoring elected members of her group.

Mrs Sadhana, who is the elected Vice-President, said Mrs Jain arbitrarily appointed executive members of the club without consulting her and the Secretary. The members appointed were not eligible for membership as their attendance of club meetings was less than required, she alleged.

She claimed that Mrs Jain was no longer the President as a no-confidence motion had been passed against her and, thus, she has not right to suspend any member.

However, all these claims were contested by Mrs Jain. She said the constitution of the club has no provision for passing a no-confidence motion against the President. She said the rival group comprising only a handful of members had never actually held the so-called no-confidence motion. She said they had only walked out of a club get-together and then claimed that they had passed a no-confidence motion.

Denying allegations of not encouraging the members of other group, Mrs Jain said she had intimated all the ‘‘disgruntled elements’’ about the three meetings in advance, but none of them came for participation.

Mrs Jain said trouble started when she sought accounts of the club after taking over. She was amazed to find less than Rs 10,000 at her disposal for running the club while the collection was much more. She said when she pressed for investigation the rival group which owed allegiance of the out-going group started disrupting the club activities.Top

 

Farm technos demand pay parity
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, April 27 — Farm technocrats of the Agriculture, Horticulture, Animal Husbandry and Soil Conservation Departments held a rally in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office here today in support of their demands.

Persons at the rally held under the banner of the Agriculture Technocrats Action Committee of Punjab, urged the government to restore the technocrats-professional pay parity and allowances with veterinarians, withdrawal of “false” cases registered against field officers regarding the verification of fertilisers and revocation of their suspension. They also pressed for evolving a just and practical procedure for the verification of subsidised fertilisers and other farm inputs in the interest of farmers and employees. They demanded an end to “harassment” and “humiliation” of technocrats by the Vigilance Bureau of Punjab.

In a press note issued here today, Dr Balwinder Singh Sohal, State Joint Secretary-cum-President of the Agriculture Officers Association of Punjab, said farm technocrats had achieved pay parity in 1992 with veterinarians and other technocrats.

He said the SAD-BJP government under the garb of the fourth Punjab Pay Commission’s recommendations had snatched this parity. He said while agriculture technocrats were being given Rs 7,200, Rs 10,000 and Rs 12,000 scales at entry level, after 8 and 16 years of service, respectively, their counterparts in veterinary and other departments were being given scales of Rs 8,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 12,000 and Rs 14,000 at entry level, after 4, 9 and 14 years of service, respectively. “This has caused widespread resentment among farm technocrats and hence they have to resort to an agitation,” he said.

Dr Dildar Singh, President of the Plant Doctors Services Association of Patiala, while addressing the rally, said the government was victimising the officers of the department by involving them in trivial issues like the verifications of subsidised farm inputs. He also said the government was not letting them fight for parity in pay and framing of farmer-oriented National Agriculture Policy etc.Top

 

Eye donation should be encouraged’
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, April 27 — A symposium on “Corneal grafting and eye donation” held at the medical college here called for liberal legislation on cornea procurement, funding of eye banks, both by the government and social agencies, and a planned policy or scheme to educate the masses about safety and the need for cornea transplantation.

The symposium, organised by the Ophthalmology Department, Government Medical College, in collaboration with the State Bank of Patiala painted a dismal picture of the present scenario of corneal grafting and eye donation.

According to Dr R.S. Gill, Assistant Professor, as many as 13000 corneas are received for transplantation but due to their inferior quality only 7000 are actually used. He said due to delay in retrieving the cornea from a registered donor, the cornea is weakened and the donation goes waste.

Dr Harjit Kaur Sidhu, Assistant Professor, said though the first eye bank was opened in the country in 1945 in Madras, till date only 50 banks have opened. Due to the scattered location of these banks, an inordinate delay occurs in the collection of the corneas. She suggested that opening of more eye banks by well-meaning social organisations, aided by the government, can go a long way in bringing light to many needy persons.

The symposium also stressed on the education of the masses for removing several taboos and myths shrouding the noble act of eye donation.

Dr Arun Jain, an eye-specialist who was the guest speaker, said despite the spread of education, people have yet to accept eye donation as a normal thing. He said a number of safety procedures were required for the successful transplantation of corneas.

Summing up the symposium, Dr Ravinder Singh, Principal, Government Medical College, said the funding of eye donation activity was necessary if it is to succeed in our country. He said liberal legislation like allowing cornea retrieval from bodies coming for post-mortem can also help in increasing the availability of cornea.

The symposium also called upon social organisations for publicising slogans encouraging eye donation. Dr Ravinder Singh said every one should come forward for registering themselves as donors as eye donation is the only service which one can do even after death.Top

 

League resents delaying tactics
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, April 27 — The Indian Ex-Services League (Punjab and Chandigarh) expressed its displeasure over the delaying tactics of the government about the implementation of the recommendations of the Fifth Pay and Pension Commission.

Col C.S. Dhillon, president of the league, said here yesterday that the present as well as the past governments had expressed lip sympathy for the jawans and veterans instead of doing something worthwhile for them.

He said if the anomalies in the pay and pension were not removed by a fixed date, they would be constrained to resort to other options.
Top

 

Baljit Singh Sandhu
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, April 27 — Mr Baljit Singh Sandhu has been appointed general Secretary of the Sikh Budhijiv Council by its convener Mr Harcharan Singh Gill. The council is associated with the SAD (Badal). Mr Devinder Pal Singh Mann has been appointed senior General Secretary of the Council.
Top

 

More castes in OBC list
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, April 27 — The National Commission for Backward Classes has recommended names of certain more castes and communities in the Central list of backward classes of OBCs in cases of Punjab and several other states. According to a notification issued by the Union Government, Nai, Sain, Dhaula, Soni, Sunar, Swarankar, Saini, Kachlu, Kachlu Maurya, Kachhnu Kushwaha castes and communities have been included in the OBC list in case of Punjab.
Top

 

Sales tax on motor vehicles up
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, April 27 — The Punjab Government today enhanced the rate of sales tax on all types of motor vehicles from 5 per cent to 12 per cent under the Punjab General Sales Tax Act, 1948.

The rate of tax on air circulators and synthetic gems have also been enhanced from 8 per cent to 12 per cent. These rates have been revised in pursuance of the floor rates agreed upon at the national level meeting of state finance minister held in January, 2000. The enhanced rates will be effective from May 1.
Top

 

Two killed in road accident

MALERKOTLA, April 27 — Mr Rakesh Kumar Sharma, alias Kechhi (35), Municipal Councillor, and Mr Gursharan Singh, alias Vickey (30), were killed in a road accident near Sangala village, 6 km from here, last night.

The deceased were coming from Dhuri side when their new Santro car collided with a tempo coming from the opposite side.

After a post mortem at the local Civil Hospital, the two were cremated. Their funeral procession was largely attended.
Top

 

Finance Minister meets PAU experts
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, April 27 — The Punjab Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, today held a meeting at Punjab Agricultural University to finalise a strategy to implement a Rs 2000 crore initiative to end stagnation in the field of agriculture.

Called “mission for a second push in agriculture and allied sectors, 2000-2001,” the programme was earlier unveiled by the Finance Minister on the floor of the Vidhan Sabha while presenting the Budget.

Talking about the plan here today, the minister described it as “path-breaking” and a “gateway” to the new millennium which would make Punjab farmers market leaders at a global platform by heralding a second green revolution in the state.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh said while Rs 200 crore had been earmarked as seed money, the rest would be put in by private investors. “The state government is involved in promotion, creating of infrastructure and aggressive marketing of the state to investors for setting up agro-processing units here,” he said.

Earlier, addressing a meeting attended by experts of PAU, officers of the Agriculture Department and the Secretary, Finance, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, the Finance Minister said the plan would be implemented on a priority basis. “Though it is a five-year plan, 90 per cent of the work would be finished within two years,” he said.

He also asked the administrative secretaries and heads of departments concerned to chalk out a timeframe for implementation of various programmes under this plan. He asked them to appoint nodal officers who would be responsible for the implementation of various programmes and assured adequate funds for the same.

Later, talking about the plan, Capt Kanwaljit Singh said high yielding varieties of maze and “moong” would be introduced and the state government after procuring seeds of the two crops would distribute it among various village cooperatives and the farmers encouraged to sow these. A Rs 700 per quintal subsidy would also be given on these crops.

Other than this, it had been decided to promote the sowing of chillies, tomatoes, peas, onions and cucumber as these crops fetched good returns and also had a high yield.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh said the state government proposed to set up a chain of cold stores in the state at a cost of Rs 10 crore. Other than providing the basic infrastructure, everything else would be placed in private hands. “With the setting up of the state-of-the-art cold stores, stability in the prices of various crops would be ensured,” he said.

He also said the plan entailed promotion of animal husbandry, bee-keeping and dairy farming on a large scale.

On the promotion of agro-based industry, the Finance Minister said an interactive seminar would be held in July for all major players in the food processing industry to tell them about the available potential and the infrastructure they could provide. Areas would be identified where agro-based processing units could be set up.

Regarding promotion of dairy farming, Capt Kanwaljit Singh said the focus primarily would be on increasing milk production. “Fifteen per cent subsidy would be given to dairy farmers and they can also avail a loan of up to Rs 10 lakh with a 2 per cent cut on interest,” he said. He also said Rs 4 crore had been sanctioned for on animal care hospital.

The state government had prepared this comprehensive plan after consultation with experts from PAU and other state government departments.Top

 

AIFUCTO backs Bihar teachers
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, April 27 — The national executive of the All-India Federation of University and College Teachers Organisations (AIFUCTO) has condemned Bihar and Orissa government for UGC pay scales.

It expressed solidarity with teachers of Bihar who are on an indefinite strike from April 1, demanding implementation of scales with retrospective effect from January, 1996.

The executive held a two-day session here to discuss the situation arising out of the developments during the past three months, including the ‘dharna’ at New Delhi in March and the “delaying tactics” by the government so as not to honour the agreement with the AIFUCTO.

The organisation urged the Government to take an early decision on creation of posts of Professor in colleges and in evolving a scheme to reward meritorious teachers who did not possess the degree of Ph.D.

It extended support to the teachers of Assam who plan to launch a stir from May 4.

The AIFUCTO discussed the recent move by governments of Karnataka and Punjab to cut grants for aided colleges, since it would have a serious affect an higher education.Top

 

NFL reinstates Principal
From Our Correspondent

NANGAL, April 27 — In a volte-face the NFL management has reinstated, Mr Gurcharan Singh, Principal of Fertilisers Senior Secondary School. The Principal was “retired” last month, according to the initial entry in his service book, his date of birth was March 17, 1937.

The Principal had, however, contested that Panjab University Syndicate had rectified his date of birth to March 17, 1942. He had produced a certificate to this effect to the NFL management according to which his date of birth had been changed.

The Manager, P&A, Mr R.D. Gharana, had however maintained that the change in the date of birth in principal’s service book was in fact tampering. He had said that the Principal had not followed the proper procedure in getting the date of birth changed in the service book. He had also contested that the NFL authorities had ordered an inquiry into the case of tampering with service records by certain employees.

The union leaders of NFL today took the Principal from his home to school in a procession, raising slogans against the NFL management. They have also demanded action against the officials responsible for defaming Mr Gurcharan Singh and alleged that his reinstatement had proved that the action against the Principal was vindictive.

Mr R.D. Gharana, however, said the Principal had been retired on the directions of the Corporate Office and had been reinstated also in compliance with its order and the local authorities had no ulterior motive in the case.Top

 

Annual charges arbitrary, allege RIMA students
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, April 27 — The Punjab Technical University BBA/BCA Students’ Grievance Committee today accused the Regional Institute of Management and Administration of charging arbitrary annual charges from students who had sought admission to Bachelor of Computer Application and Bachelor of Business Administration courses during the 1997-98 academic session.A press note issued by the committee said while the prospectus issued by the institute stated that the tuition fee would be Rs 3000 per month, the annual charges would be decided by the “competent authority”.

Without the approval of the Director of Technical Education or the Technical University at Jalandhar, the institute arbitrarily fixed the annual charges at Rs 19,500 for the BCA course and Rs 17,500 for the BBA course.The committee claimed that its representatives called on the Director of Technical Education and the authorities of the university. These authorities disclaimed any knowledge about the annual charges fixed by the institute. They had also promised to look into the matter.

Although three years have gone by since the, neither the Director of Technical Education nor the university took any action against the institute.The press note explained that the annual charges fixed for those students who sought admission in the 1999-2000 academic session were fixed at Rs 6,400 as against Rs 19,500.

The committee appealed to the Punjab government to intervene in the matter and redress their grievance.Top

 

Minister visits Khanna mandi
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, April 27 — Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Minister of State for Food and Supplies, yesterday visited Khanna mandi. The minister examined the working of commission agents and also checked the weight of filled bags. Mr Mittal was accompanied by Deputy Director (field) Patiala Division, District Food and Supplies Controller, Ludhiana, Food and Supply Officer, Khanna and officers of other agencies and the Mandi Board.

Mr Mittal talked to the farmers and enquired if they were facing any problem during procurement. He said that 4373016 tonnes of wheat had been procured till date.

Mr Mittal directed procurement agencies officers to make prompt payment to the farmers.
Top

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