Tuesday, June 13, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Petrol station employees robbed of over Rs 7 lakh
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 12 — In a case of daylight robbery, three unidentified men in an Ambassador car snatched a bag containing Rs 7,69,000 from two employees of a petrol station while they were going to deposit the money in the Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar branch of the Bank Of Punjab around 10.45 this morning.

The two employees of the Lakshmi Service Station — Mr Kalyan Singh and Mr Bara Singh sustained injuries when they tried to resist. While Mr Kalyan Singh who was holding the bag containing the money was hit on the head with a wooden stick, Mr Bara Singh received injuries on his shoulder and head. Mr Kalyan Singh has been admitted to the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital for treatment.

As was the routine, the two employees were taking the money from the petrol station to deposit the cash in the bank.

Mr Ashok Sachdeva, owner of the station says,"The last two days being a bank holiday, the money was not deposited in the bank. In the morning, the money was brought to the petrol station as usual to be sorted out and deposited in the bank."

Around 10.45 a.m., the two employees started towards the bank on a scooter and while Mr Kalyan Singh was driving, Mr Bara Singh was pillion riding and holding the bag. Mr Bara Singh recalled," When we moved from the Ferozepore Road towards the bank through a link road, a white Ambassador car that was coming from behind hit our scooter with force. The impact was so much that the scooter overturned and we were both thrown to the other side. Mr Kalyan Singh clung to the bag, but two of the three assailants hit him on the head with a wooden stick and snatched the bag. They got in the car where another man was already sitting at the wheel and fled."

He also informed that as the three men were wearing a mask, their appearance could not be known. He said that he then informed at the station and the police was immediately called at the scene. The advance party reached the scene within 10 minutes of the incident while the DSP Sarabha Nagar reached within 15 minutes.

The DSP Sarabha Nagar, Mr Harmanbir Singh, informed that the police had laid nakas in the town at 11 a.m. and efforts were on to nab the culprits. He did not rule out the involvement of someone known in the case as he felt that the time of carrying the cash and the route taken by the employees was known to the culprits.

Meanwhile, the Ludhiana Petroleum Dealers Association closed their stations for almost two hours as a mark of solidarity. Mr Yuvraj Dada, President, said, "This is the fifth incident of looting of a petrol station in the past 12 months. Our employees are scared and so we are observing a strike to express our solidarity."


Ludhianvis first to buy latest cars 
From A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 12 — Have car, will travel. This seems to be the philosophy of an average Ludhianvi. Although the car craze is spreading rapidly all over the country, it is nothing like it is in Ludhiana. Everybody who is anybody in this city of nearly 25 lakh seems to want a car. And the cost be damned.

Over the years, Ludhiana has emerged as the biggest car market of the northern region outside Delhi. Almost every leading brand name of car is available here: Maruti 800, Zen, Esteem, Baleno, Indica, Safari, Sierra, Santro, Matiz, Accent, Mitsubishi, Ford Ikon, Uno, Sienna, Opel, Honda, Toyota Qualis. You name it, and it is there. Even those cars which are not presently available in India, can be seen on the roads of Ludhiana.

Car companies regard Ludhiana as a test market to get an accurate feedback on their product. If a car starts selling in Ludhiana, it means it will sell anywhere.

"Till a couple of decades ago, the auto scene was rather unexciting. There used to be a monopoly of Ambassador and Premier. We used to sell about 25 cars and about 1800 scooters in a month and feel on the top of the world," recalls Mr Sooraj Dada, a leading car dealer of Ludhiana and keen observer of the auto scene in the country. "But with the advent of Maruti followed by other car makers, the market has undergone a sea change. The more the merrier seems to be the overriding consideration. The market has, therefore, expanded phenomenally.

"Everybody who owns a scooter, wants to change over to a car. The Maruti 800 owner wants to move into a higher segment represented by Zen, Indica, Santro and Matiz. It has also been seen, of late, that scooter owners with a little more paying capacity try to bypass Maruti 800 and go straight for cars like Zen, Santro etc.

"Consequently, the two-wheeler market has been shrinking and the car market expanding. Now Ludhiana adds about 2,000 cars a month to its ever-growing car population. Of these, about 400 are Indicas. The two-wheeler sales has come down to between 300 and 400 a month".

However, the car culture of Ludhiana is radically different from the rest of Punjab and Chandigarh. What sets Ludhiana apart from Chandigarh or for that matter, Jalandhar and Amritsar, is the spending power of an average Ludhianvi. Vast amounts of money, both accounted as well as unaccounted, generated by the factories of the megacity are available here for spending on good things of life.

Just as a fan replaced a desert cooler which in turn replaced air-conditioner, in middle-class homes over the years, cycle has been replaced by a scooter/motor cycle which in turn is getting pushed out by cars.

"A car is no longer regarded as a luxury by an average middle class home. It has come to be looked upon as a necessity," says Mr Anil Malhotra and Dr Naresh Malhotra, Managing Directors of Stan Autos Ltd., the leading car dealer as regards sales and service in Punjab. Stan Autos has also won an award for the highest customer satisfaction index in service for Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, J and K and Chandigarh.

Ludhianvis are fond of good things of life. And they have plenty of money to indulge in their tastes. Therefore, among other things, they go for good car variants. They have a weakness for niche cars — with upper brand names.

Unlike Chandigarh, Jalandhar and Amritsar where a car is purchased because it is required, the car purchase in Ludhiana is not always need-based. "Frequently, we find customers coming to the show room and asking for a particular car model even though he doesn”t exactly need it. He may already have two or more cars parked in his house but he just wants to add the new model too to his stable," says Dr Malhotra.

The roads of Ludhiana are notorious for their potholes and traffic is chaotic, to put it rather mildly. But even such terrible road conditions do not deter them from going in for the latest, expensive models, says Mr Yuvraj Dada, Managing Director, Yuvraj Motors who markets Mitsubishi Lancer in Ludhiana and the surrounding areas.

Even the decision to buy a car is more impulsive rather than a well-thought out plan. "In Chandigarh and cities like Jalandhar and Amritsar, you will find the whole family turning up at the show room to decide which car to buy. There is a discussion about the merits and demerits of different cars, their colours, their performance, their price. In Ludhiana, the male member of the family alone walks into the showroom to buy the car and drive home.

"There have been cases where a person came to the showroom just for window shopping but ended up buying the car straightaway", says Mr Dada.

With car finance available on the spot, the price of a car is no longer the main worry for a customer in Ludhiana. He knows that he has just to make a down payment and the rest will be taken care of in installments, says Mr Raj Naresh Singh, Managing Director, Bhagat Ford which is marketing the hot-selling Ikon, the “josh machine”.

Another example of rather different tastes of the car customers of Ludhiana is that they have been buying a large number of Zen Classics despite the fact that this Maruti car model has had a rather indifferent response in other parts of the country.

Another factor responsible for a sizeable segment of the car sales in the megacity is the desire on the part of the Ludhianvis is to show off their wealth and flaunt their new acquisitions. "Even if they don’t immediately need a car, they will go for it just because their neighbour, a friend or a competitor also has it," points out Mr Yuvraj Dada.

And once they acquire a car, they like to spend a good amount of money on decking it up — stereo, alloy wheels, wheelcups, upholstery, the works.


Free pollution check for 2-wheelers
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, June 12 — Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) organised a free pollution-check-up camp for two-wheelers at their retail outlet Ad Fuel Centre, near Fountain Chowk here today. There was an enthusiastic response to the camp by two-wheeler-drivers of all ages. Besides the free emission-level checking of vehicles, the company officials also explained the adverse effects of pollutants. They also suggested various remedial measures.

The company officials and the petrol station staff distributed leaflets and other literature to educate drivers about keeping the emission level under check. They advised all to keep the engines of their vehicles in good shape through proper service, tuning and using low-smoke lubricants like 2T oil for two-wheelers.

The Senior Sales Officer of the BPCL said vehicular pollution could be reduced to a reasonable level through modifications in engine designs and recirculation of exhaust gases. He said the use of catalytic convertor, unleaded petrol, low-smoke lubricants and the adoption of alternative and cleaner fuels like the LPG and the CNG also reduced pollution to a great extent.


Dimpa fears terrorism may resurface
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, June 12 — "Deteriorating law and order situation in the state and increasing interference by government functionaries, including the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, could lead to the terrorism resurfacing in this border state," said Mr Jasbir Singh Dimpa, newly appointed General Secretary of the Indian Youth Congress (IYC). Apprehending that the radical groups might be emboldened by government actions which tended to undermine the authority of Sikh religious institutions, he maintained that the congregation of numerous fundamental groups at Akal Takht on June 6 and observance of ghallughara divas at the instance of the Jathedar of Akal Takht were all indications to this effect.

Mr Dimpa, former President of the Punjab Youth Congress, while addressing media persons here last evening, observed that people of Punjab were fed up with the SAD(B)-BJP government and wanted to get rid of it at the first opportunity. The government had not only failed on all fronts but had also betrayed all sections of the people, including farmers, employees, unemployed youth, trade and industry.

The Congress, along with Youth Congress activists, had organised dharnas, first at the district level followed by block level protests all over the state to mobilise public opinion against anti-people policies of the government, he said.

Replying to a question, Mr Dimpa denied that there were any differences among the Congress leadership in Punjab. The reports of faction fighting between groups headed by the PPCC President, Captain Amarinder Singh, and a former Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, were baseless and were being publicised by opposition parties and vested interests, who were upset over the increasing popularity of the party, he alleged.

The IYC General Secretary asserted that Congress was bound to come back to power, both in Punjab and the Centre and the Youth Congress would play a pivotal role in the upswing of the party in the next elections. "To prepare and train the party workers to effectively cope with the changing political scenario in the country, zonal level training camps for Youth Congress activists would be organised," added Mr Dimpa. The series of camps would commence from Maharashtra and Gujarat, followed by Uttar Pradesh and Orissa in the near future. A joint camp for Youth Congress workers of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh would be organised sometime in September-October, he informed.


Tamasha bears rescued, owners jailed
From Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 12 — The Judicial Magistrate, Mr Rajiv Beri, today directed that two bears which were being illegally used for tamasha by their two owners be sent to Chhat Bir Zoo near Chandigarh. The two owners have also been sent to the district jail here till they furnish their bail surety.

The two bears, not in their wild best and in a bad worn-out shape, were caught by activists of the People For Animals Organisation, led by Mr Sanjeev Jain from Issewal village, 15 km from here, today morning. Mr Jain said the organisation had received complaints that wild animals, like bears and monkeys, and birds were being used for tamasha by persons in violation of the Animal Protection Act.

On a tip-off, the activists of the organisation swooped on the owners in the village and rescued the innocent animals. A wildlife guard said at the time of the raid by the organisation, the male bears were entertaining the crowd through scenes of courtship. While Sonu had been dressed like a female bear, Raju was using all techniques to lure it. The bear Raju performed several acts standing on one foot and rolling over and over, but Sonu did not budge. The guard said just before the raid, the trained bear was following the female one with a stick hoping that what requests could not do stick might.

Mr H.S. Lochan, Inspector, Wildlife, brought the bears to the court. Later, in the evening, a team of the wildlife officials left for Chhat Bir Zoo along with the two bears. It was nevertheless free and unusual entertainment for lawyers and litigants at the district courts in the afternoon. Quite a crowd gathered around the animals. The innocent bears, not knowing of their being caught in the grip of the law, began performing the learnt acts. Raju was particularly enthusiastic when media photographers aimed their cameras to take its shot.

One of the owners sitting near the bears was sobbing regularly. Talking to this correspondent, he said everyone was treating him and his animals as a thing of attraction, while they were hungry since the morning. He said he did not know that such a tamasha was banned. He was particularly worried about the health of Sonu, which he said had not taken any food since last night.


Gupta’s statue
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, June 12 — Mr O.P. Gupta, a veteran freedom fighter and a senior Congress politician, whose death anniversary was yesterday, contributed a lot of the field of education. He was a committed educationist and worked hard for women education. Born in 1916, he participated in India’s struggle for freedom and rendered selfless services to the ills prevalent in society at all levels.

He managed and headed SDP Sabha for more than two decades. Four educational institutions — SDP College for Women, SDP Senior Secondary School, Hazoor Road, SDP Senior Secondary School, Basti Jodhewal, SDP Model Senior Secondary School, Quilla Mohalla — had been running under his patronage. Stipends, scholarships, books and other facilities were provided to the poor and needy students in all the educational institutions by Mr Gupta.


Young guns who kill for thrill
From Ruchika Mohindra
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 12 — The involvement of the youth in many cases of crime solved by the local police in the past couple of days has brought into focus their callous attitude towards the law, besides a growing intolerance among them.

The youth here are not only involved in petty crimes like gambling, drug abuse and drunken driving, but also in murder, violence and theft. All of them do it for the thrill which they derive from breaking the law.

Recently, the CIA staff led by Inspector B.S. Brar had arrested four youths — all below the age of 20 — for allegedly stabbing to death another youth, Dhanu Ram. Allegedly, they were under the influence of some substance when they murdered the youth. The provocation was that Dhanu — also alleged to be a drug addict — had abused these youths when they had asked him for a matchstick to light a cigarette.

It is learnt that the four accused — Madan alias Dicky, Rinku, Mangat alias Sonu and Ramu — were taking drugs near the Dhuri railway track on the night of May 13. Dhanu and three other persons came there and, allegedly, abused these youths when they asked for a matchstick. In a scuffle that followed, one of the accused, Madan, repeatedly stabbed Dhanu and left him for dead. Dhanu was later taken to Civil Hospital, but, was declared brought dead.

The four youths returned home and continued with their normal routines without any regrets till they were caught by the police ten days later.

The involvement of three youths in the murder of Sanjay Kumar alias Dabbu, whose body was thrown in Sidhwan Canal after he was also stabbed to death, is another case in this regard. One of the accused involved in the murder, Karamjit Singh, is a second-year BA student. The two others, Kuldeep Singh alias Sonu and Sukhi, alleged to be police informers, got Sanjay released from the police custody and handed him over to his sworn enemy. Even after these youths were arrested a few days ago, they showed no signs of remorse. Rather, they proudly proclaimed that they had murdered Dabbu in order to take revenge.

In another case, four school children — Avtaar Singh, Harpal Singh alias Sonu, Pawan Kumar and Simratpal Singh alias Sunny — were arrested by the police at a checkpoint on June 9 while they were travelling in a stolen Maruti Esteem. The foursome were in the habit of taking away the car from outside the house of the owner in Sarabha Nagar for a few hours and zooming around in it. They had stolen the car again on the night of June 4 and had not yet returned it to its owner when they were caught by the police.

During the interrogation, the children confessed that the motive behind taking the car was only their craze for driving and not theft.

On June 9 again, two groups of students had clashed on the Punjab Agricultural University campus. Six students who got injured in the scuffle had to be hospitalised. An old enmity is said to be the reason behind this clash. Besides these things, the youth are also alleged to be involved in immoral trafficking. A few months ago, the police had also rounded-up a large number of town youth from various pool parlours in the city, where allegedly, they were indulging in obscene acts with women employees. These pool parlours are alleged to be pick-up joints of the town.

The town SP, Mr G.S. Sandhu, said, "The youth are increasingly getting enamoured by what they see on television and in films. They try to imitate the protagonist who breaks the law, but, is still considered right."

He, however, said youths who committed crimes like murder and theft mostly belonged to the economically weaker sections. The rich youth are mainly involved in breaking local and special laws.

Dr Rajiv Gupta, a consultant psychiatrist here, said, "With nuclear families coming into existence and an increase in the number of working parents, children do not get enough attention and guidance. As a result of this, they take to crime.

With both family and society losing control, children's control over the family is increasing. They also try to exercise this power and control outside their homes. Moreover, parents give too much money to their children and when they try to put restrictions later on, children rebel."



2 factory workers murdered
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June12 — Two persons were found murdered in a factory on Bajra Road around 10 this morning. Working in the same factory, the two had been allegedly killed after being hit on the head.

The deceased have been identified as Ram Avtaar, a resident of Uttar Pradesh and Krishna a resident of Andhra Pradesh. It is learnt that while Ram Avtaar was a worker in a shawl factory, Taj International, Krishna was a watchman there.

The victims are also learnt to be close friends and the police is suspecting that the two have been murdered by someone who had a personal grudge against the two.

The SP City II, Mr Pramod Ban, informed that there was no looting inside the factory and that Krishna was probably murdered while in sleep as his body was found lying on a cot outside the factory. The other victim's body was found in his hutment on a vacant plot adjacent to the factory.

Teenager abducted

An 18-year-old-girl, Geeta is alleged to have been abducted by Kailash and Pappu on June 7 from J-Block Sarabha Nagar. The police has registered a case under Sections 363, 366 and 34 of the IPC.

Boy kidnapped

A seven-and-a-half-year-old boy, Gurjot Singh is alleged to have been kidnapped from outside his house at Dhandra village last morning.

The police has registered a case under Sections 364 and 34 of the IPC at the Sadar Police Station on the statement of the grandfather of the child, Hardev Singh.

Highly placed sources in the police informed that all-out efforts were being made to nab the accused and find the boy.

At least 100 police personnel had been specially deployed to trace out the child and the kidnappers, it was informed.

Opium seized

The police has seized 400gm of opium from Bhure Lal in Gill village around 8.30 p.m.. during a special checking and a case under Sections 18, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act has been registered at the Sadar Police Station.Back


LSE round-up
Bullish but volatile stock market
From A Correspondent

LUDHIANA: As predicted in this column a week ago, the week witnessed a bullish but volatile stock market. The 30-scrip strong LSE index opened at 142 points on Monday and closed at 143 on Friday, showing a small upswing of 1 point.

The BSE sensex opened at 4608 points on Monday and closed at 4730 on Friday with a net gain around 3 per cent. Unlike 1997, the Indian capital market is swaying in tune with NASDAQ and other overseas capital markets. During the week the scrips of information, communication and entertainment (ICE) industries witnessed high volatility as a symbol of economically resurgent India and hyperactive capital market.

India's weather office has predicted a normal monsoon, which has come as music to the ears of the companies which depend on rural consumption for revenue growth. The severe drought in five states has already effected and led to the concerns that lower rural demands, if the monsoon fails, could hurt the corporate bottom lines. In spite of all the hype about the software companies, the industrial growth is still driven by productivity in the agriculture sector, which in turn depends upon a good monsoon. The monsoon has already touched the coast of India, 10 days ahead of its scheduled time, and is expected to reach Ludhiana by first of July.

Recently, three companies of the Vardhman group — Vardhman Spinning, Mahavir Spinning and Vardhman Polytex — declared their audited results. The net profit of Vardhman spinning increased by 6 per cent from Rs 31 crore to Rs 33 crore. The fabric process house of the company set up at Baddi with an annualised installed capacity of 30 million metres started commercial production on December 1, 1999.

The net profit of Mahavir Spinning vaulted by 19 per cent from Rs 59 crore to Rs 70 crore and the net profit of Vardhman Polytex showed an impressive jump of 31 per cent from Rs 13 crore to Rs 17 crore. The board of the three companies declared a final dividend of 7 per cent, in addition to interim dividend of 35 per cent for the financial year 1999-2000. However, the good results failed to enthuse the scrip price as Vardhman Spinning continued to trade in the range of 51-54, Mahavir Spinning below Rs 50 and Vardhman Polytex in the range of 31-32. At a dividend of 42 per cent. Vardhman Polytex appears to be the best option with an annualised tax- free return of 14 per cent. The three scrips are also strong bonus candidates with a very comfortable level of reserves.

In the last week, it was predicted in this column that the bonus issue of PTL was likely to be liberal as in the past. The prediction has proved right with the company declaring a bonus of 2:1 and a final dividend of 65 per cent, taking cumulative dividend for the year 1999-2000 to 260 per cent. However, there was not much increase in the net profit which stood at 133 crore for the year 1999-2000 as compared to Rs 125 crore last year. It is expected that a good monsoon will generate increased demand for tractors. However, it would be difficult for the company to service its enhanced capital of Rs 60.75 crore with a liberal dose of dividend in the next year. The investors may take medium-to-long purchase positions in this scrip.

The IPCL also declared its audited results during the period. The company reported a huge increase in the net profits at Rs 189 crore during the year ended on March 31, 2000, as compared to Rs 29 crore during last year. The public sector mammoth has finally been able to come out of its deep slumber. The turnaround has been possible because of thrust of the company on supply chain management, optimisation of energy consumption and improved capacity utilisation. The public sector giant is on the priority list of the government for disinvestment. The probable takers are the Indian Oil Corporation and Reliance Petroleum. On the back of the impressive results, the scrip price has improved from Rs 54 to Rs 69 during the week. The share price is expected to firm up further. Investors may take short-to-long purchase positions in the scrip.

Sensex is likely to gain another 200-300 points once it crosses the barrier of 4775. In spite of vilification of the software sector, the counters of IT companies are likely to be darlings of speculators during the next week. The infrastructure, construction and FMCG sectors are likely to be the other major gainers.Back


Furnace oil-using traders feel ST pinch
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 12 — Furnace oil and LDO-using industry in Punjab is dire straits. This industry has been getting these oils from depots of oil companies in Haryana, UP and other parts of the country by paying 4 per cent sales tax. The oil companies have now decided to stop all inter-state movement of furnace oil and LDO and diesel. Technically, these oils cannot be moved by road.

According to Mr P. D. Sharma, President of the Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry, now the Punjab industry will get furnace oil from depots of oil companies within Punjab by paying the state's sales tax. This tax is 20 per cent with a surcharge of 20 per cent. As a result, there is a straightaway hike of 18 per cent. Already, the basic prices of furnace oil and LDO have more than doubled during the past one year.

The chamber president disclosed that Punjab's industry uses more than 10,000 kl of furnace oil and 3000 kl of LDO a month. Re-rolling mills and forging industry exclusively use furnace oil. Other engineering industry also uses these oils for various inter-mediate processes. There will be a multiplying effect of this sharp hike. Prices of steel will go up as steel-based industry gets more than 60 per cent of steel from local steel manufacturers.

He disclosed that a big private refinery in Gujarat wanted to capture the market for its products. The company enjoys sales tax exemption. So, if products of other refineries are burdened with heavy tax, this company can reap a handsome profit, Mr Sharma alleged.

Mr Sharma said, the chamber raised the matter with the Chief Minister who referred the matter to the Finance Minister, who is scheduled to assess the report by the Excise and Taxation Commissioner on June 13.

The apex chamber has demanded that Punjab should charge 4 per cent sales tax only on these oils. He pointed out the Punjab Government has provisions in the sales tax Act to even waive tax on certain commodities used for manufacturing various products. This has been applied for some industries like tractor parts and this pattern could be applied here also. He pointed out, Himachal Pradesh has no oil depot and the users bring these oils from depots outside HP by paying a central sales tax of 4 per cent only.

Mr Sharma pointed out that the Punjab Excise and Taxation Minister had instructed the Sales Tax Department to either bring down or do away with sales tax on several items relating to poultry and dairy industry in view of the WTO implications. He said, this reinforces the belief that the government is concerned only with the agriculture sector and the industry was not its concern.

He said that the entire furnace oil-using industry was in panic and many industrial units have to cut down productions. He hoped the Chief Minister would resolve the problem by reducing the sales tax on these oils to bring it at 4 per cent.


Price hike hits trade
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 12 — Mr G.L. Pahwa, President, Mr D.S. Chawla, Senior Vice-President, and Mr Sudarshan Gosain, Vice-President, respectively, of the United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association, have expressed concern over the increase in the price of furnace oil.

The office-bearers of the association, in a statement issued here today, complained that the extra freight and octroi charges were affecting the cycle industry very badly. The association also said that the industry was already passing through a crucial phase and the increase of the sale tax on the furnace oil by the Punjab Government was a bolt from the blue to the cycle trade which would result in the collapse of the trade and industry. Mr Pahwa, Mr Chawla and Mr Gosain urged the Punjab Government to withdraw the increase in sale tax from 8 per cent to 22 per cent on furnace oil immediately to save cycle trade and small-scale industries.

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