Tuesday, June 4, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Gang-rape victim fails to identify 3 accused
AISSF(Bhoma) sets up 5-member probe panel
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 3
The three accused in the gang rape case in a gurdwara, who were arrested by the police two days ago, were released here today as the victim failed to identify them in the identification parade.

Sources in the police department said, while the three were not identified by the girl, the police was taking their help to locate the other accused by raiding the premises of various sewadars working in the gurdwara for some time.

Sources further said the police had conducted raids on various villages, including Bassian and Bhinder Kalan, and some areas of the city, including Nirankari Mohalla.

Meanwhile, The All-India Sikh Students Federation (Bhoma group), owing allegiance to the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), has set up a five-member fact finding committee to bring out the truth behind the incident in which a girl was allegedly gang raped for several days by five persons, including three grant his (preachers), inside a place of worship on Ferozepore Road here.

Presiding over a meeting of party activists here today, Dr Manjit Singh Bhoma, while terming the incident as sacrilegious, observed that the conduct of the head of the gurdwara in this context raised several doubts. “The head of the gurdwara, on the one hand is claiming that it is a deep-rooted conspiracy to malign him, on the other he is tendering apology for the incident.”

He said religious sentiments of the masses were hurt over the shameful incident, particularly with regards to the reprehensible conduct of the granthis, allegedly involved in the rape. According to Mr Bhoma, the probe panel, headed by the AISSF senior vice-president, Mr Gurdip Singh Leel, comprised Mr Amarjit Singh Pathankot, Mr Harbaksh Singh Bhola, Mr Satnam Singh Dairywal and Mr Bhupinder Singh Bedi.

The committee would also go into similar incidents that took place in the past in the gurdwara and would submit its report in the next five days to the AISSF chief, who in turn would release the report to the press. The meeting also called for social boycott of the families of the accused persons.

Meanwhile, the Nari Shakti Jagran Samiti, a Patiala-based organisation, today demanded an inquiry into the alleged gang-rape case of a woman in a local gurdwara and demanded strong action against the guilty.

The President and members of the samiti met the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Aggarwal, here today and urged him to hold a thorough probe into the case and not allow the recurrence of such incidents.

Flaying the gurdwara authorities the President said it was not possible that such activities were taking place on the premises without their knowledge.



Woman poisoned to death
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 3
Four-month pregnant Meena Kumari (26), a resident of Ghumana village under the Koomkalan police station, was allegedly poisoned to death by her in-laws yesterday. The four accused — Gurdial Singh (father-in-law), Bhambo (mother-in-law), Charanjit Singh (brother-in-law) and Darshan Singh (husband) — have been arrested under Sections 304-B, 498-A, 34 of the IPC. Kulwinder Kaur, the victim's sister-in-law, is absconding.

The woman’s father, Subhash Chand, a resident of Vishkarma Nagar on the Tajpur road, said that his daughter was married to Darshan Singh for the past one-and-a-half year. She already has a nine-month-old son.

"I have three daughters and two of them, Sonia and Meena — were married in the same house at Ghumana village to two brothers. Both my daughters used to complain about their in-laws earlier but we never took it seriously. Yesterday, somebody from the village called up and told that Meena was critically ill and was admitted in Christian Medical College and Hospital. As soon as we reached the hospital, she was already dead", said Subhash Chand.

Sonia, the victim's sister, alleged that both of them were being continuously harassed by their in-laws. "We were mercilessly beaten by our in-laws daily. My husband and brother-in-law were demanding Rs 2 lakh from our parents. They also wanted us to get them a new scooter. Yesterday, we had a fight with them. My sister Meena was forcibly given celphos tablets by her husband and in-laws. They tried to hold me also but I ran from house and started screaming. By the time the villagers gathered, all five accused had already fled from the scene”, said Sonia.

Sonia said,”I have been married to Charanjit Singh for the past four years. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law, Kulwinder Kaur, used to beat me over minor issues. My family decided that if my younger sister will get married to my brother-in-law, things would run smoothly. But things worsened day by day. We were neither allowed to visit our parents nor even to call them”.

The body of Meena Kumari was cremated here today after the post-mortem at Civil Hospital. Subhash Chand said, “We have lost our daughter. If Meena’s in-laws had some grudge, they could have told us. They had no right to kill my daughter”.



Murder mystery solved
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 3
In a major breakthrough, the local police has solved a gruesome blind murder committed more than one-and-a-half year ago with the arrest of four accused here today. Two other accused involved in the murder are presently in jail in another case. This was the outcome of the instructions issued by Mr H.S. Sidhu, SSP, who directed the CIA staff to make all out efforts to solve all such cases at the earliest.

According to sources, the police had recovered a badly mutilated and limbless body from the Buddha Nullah and had been unable to solve the case. Those arrested include Satnam, Vicky, Deepa and Sanjeev. Munna and Kania, the other co-accused are already in jail. All were allegedly drug addicts and small-time crooks.

During interrogation, they confessed to the crime and said that the deceased, Raman, was their friend, but Satnam suspected him of eyeing his wife and they connived to kill him.

Raman was called on the pretext of celebrating Shivratri on the night intervening February 21-22 in the one-room residence of Vicky near Preet Cinema. First, they smoked cannabis and later went on a drinking binge. When Raman became unconscious, Satnam strangled him with a plastic rope and killed him. To remove all evidence, they cut up the body into pieces and threw it into the nullah.

Parents of the deceased, aware of his habits, and presumed that he had left home of his own accord. But after he did not return, his father Inayat Masih, got worried and approached the SSP, who marked an enquiry to Mr Shiv Kumar, SP (D). The SP worked out some leads for SI Gurmit Singh, Incharge CIA-II and his staff to follow. The accused were arrested and confessed to their crime. The sharp-edged cleaver and rope used in the murder has been recovered from their possession.



DHO’s medical reports examined
Vigilance sleuths raid Civil Hospital
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 3
In the wake of reports that the District Health Officer (DHO), Dr Birenderpal Singh, who was arrested on corruption charges on Saturday, has been admitted to the Civil Hospital, the Vigilance Bureau today conducted a raid on the hospital to check his medical history and records.

The bureau headed by the DSP, Mr Swarup Singh Chauhan, and the Inspector, Mr Daljit Singh, conducted the raid as the department had information that the DHO was residing in a special room of the hospital. And since his wife, Dr Jitender Kaur, was the SMO, Civil Hospital, he was easily getting all facilities.

Earlier, the DHO complained of chest pain, back ache and high blood pressure in the lock up. He was immediately shifted to the hospital.

According to sources, the sleuths has taken ECG reports of Dr Birenderpal Singh.

The DHO, however, said he was falsely implicated in the case. He said the raid at Shimlapuri was conducted on the basis of complaints by area residents.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that the DHO is being sent back to the jail on the demand of the bureau.



Part of Circuit House to be auctioned
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 3
The Land Acquisition Tribunal- here has ordered the auction of a part of the Circuit House situated on the Ferozepore-Ludhiana road, to recover Rs 69,23,014.

The tribunal has passed the order in the execution applications filed by various persons of Mundian Kalan village, whose land was acquired by the Industry Department in 1994.

The Land Acquisition Collector assessed the market value of the acquired land.

Meanwhile, dissatisfied with the award passed by the Land Acquisition Collector, villagers approached the Land Acquisition Tribunal, Ludhiana. After hearing the parties concerned, the tribunal enhanced the value of the acquired land and passed the award in favour of the aggrieved persons.

Nazar Singh, Gurcharan Singh, Baljit Singh, Bant Singh, Karam Singh and Bhagat Singh filed execution application with a prayer to attach and sell the property of government so that they may get their due share.

When the department concerned failed to pay the enhanced compensation, the Circuit House was attached, and has now been put to auction.

The proclamation of sale by beat of drums in respect of the property, measuring 629.27 sq. yards, will be done on June 15. It will be sold in an open auction on July 20, as per the orders of the tribunal.



Cong-Akali showdown: scene shifts to rural areas
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 3
With the Zila Parishad elections scheduled for June 9, the scene of political action has shifted from urban to rural areas. After making a clean sweep of the four Municipal Corporations in the state, the Congress is headed for a crucial battle against the Akalis, its traditional rivals and that too, in their traditional strong hold comprising the rural electorate. The Congress has constituted a campaign committee for the purpose, headed by its district president (rural), Mr Gurdev Singh Lapran.

The District Congress Committee (Rural) has, in consultation with Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib, Member Parliament, set up a campaign committee for Zila Parishad and Block Samiti elections in the district.

Giving details, the DCC (Rural) President Mr Gurdev Singh Lapran said in a press statement that senior party activists including Mr Manjit Singh Malerkotla, Mr Piara Singh Dhillon, Mr Dharamjit Singh Khera, Mr Parminder Singh Latala, Mr Gurmeet Singh, Mr Gurkeerat Singh Kotli, Mr Sant Singh Doburji, Mr Avtar Singh Ghulal, Mr Bhupinder Singh Benipal, Mr Kasturi Lal, Mr Manjit Bharowal, Mr Bhajan Singh Detwal, Mr Mohinderpal Lali, Mr Soni Ghalib, Mr Ravinder Mohan Pinki, Mr Inderjit Jhanji, Ms Manpreet Kaur Dhaliwal, Mr Tejinder Singh Kooner, Mr Anil Sood, Mr Swarn Singh, Mr Inderjit Dhaliwal, Mr Sukhjit Singh Hara, Mr Darshan Singh Beermi, Mr Harbhupinder Dharor, Mr Pawan Diwan, Mr Jagir Singh, Mr Sat Pal Goyal, Mr Onkar Mehta, Mr Rupinder Singh Raja and Mr Mohinder Singh Racheen, would be the members of the committee.

The party is not going to take any chances and has focused all its attention on these elections. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh will address an election rally on June 7, the last day of the election campaign, at Humbran near here. The DDC president said, the Chief Minister’s visit would give a boost to the party campaign and claimed that the party would sweep the Zila Parishad elections.

Both the parties, the Congress as well as the Akalis, are contesting the elections on party symbols. Although the Congress seems to be feeling a little confident since it is in power in the state, but the party’s position is not as strong in rural areas as it is in the urban areas. Even in the assembly elections, the party’s performance in the rural areas has not been up to the mark.

In Ludhiana district, there are 23 block samitis for which elections would be held on June 9. According to the District Congress Committee (rural) president, Mr Gurdev Singh Lapran, the party is comfortably placed vis-a-vis the elections. He claimed that given its performance in the assembly and corporation elections, the party was all set to emerge victorious in the Zila Parishad elections also.

Mr Lapran said the party’s performance in the government had been duly acknowledged and appreciated by the public in the corporation elections. Moreover, he added, the Congress government, led by Capt Amarinder Singh had successfully procured the wheat that had arrived in different grain markets of the state. Besides, he stated that the electric supply to the farmers had been regularised.

On the other hand, the SAD(B) is confident in neutralising the reverses it suffered in the assembly and corporation elections. In most of the block samitis for which elections are going to be held on June 9, the performance of the Akalis has remained much better than of the Congress. Moreover, the rural masses have consistently preferred Akalis to the Congress.

The president of the Youth wing of the party, Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, claimed that the party chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, continued to enjoy massive following among the rural masses. He alleged that the Congress Government had not done anything worth its name for the rural people and had rather started charging farmers for the electricity. He expressed confidence that the SAD(B), under the leadership of Mr Badal, was set to win the Zila Parishad elections. 



Gill likely to be Ludhiana Mayor
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 3
With the Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti elections scheduled for June 9, the selection of the Mayor for the city is likely to get delayed further. As the Congress is preoccupied with these elections, it is learnt that the party has decided to wait till the completion of these elections for formally announcing its mayoral candidate.

As usual, the party seems to have messed up the issue of selecting its candidate for the post of Mayor with undue delay, which has already resulted in dissent among the councillors. While there is reported to be general consensus among the party leadership over appointing Mr Nahar Singh Gill as the Mayor, the delay has led to the confusion. Party sources revealed that the high command (read Capt Amarinder Singh) had approved the name of Mr Gill for the post of Mayor



Revision of electoral roll creates a stink
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 3
Omission of a number of houses or some localities altogether, shifting of complete blocks of streets and mohallas from one ward to another and dislocation of group of voters from one booth to another in the same ward are some of the irregularities committed by the enumeration staff and officials entrusted with the task of revision of electoral rolls for the recently held civic elections in the city.

As if this was not enough, senior officials, including the District Election Officer and Returning Officers, made a complete mess of the job by taking such decisions till the eleventh hour that the confusion was further compounded.

As the process of fresh enumeration was in progress, there were a number of complaints against the staff that they were working at the instance of certain political activists. It was alleged that they had enrolled a large number of bogus voters and ignored some pockets completely. And that is what happened. While instances of enrolling hundreds, if not thousands, of non-existent voters have already been brought to light, specific complaints of omission were also lodged with the authorities concerned during the process of revision.

However, the then District Election Officer for Municipal elections, Mr A.K. Sinha, as well as other district officials associated with the work of revision of voter lists, brushed aside almost all complaints, terming these as frivolous or politically motivated.

If Mr B.R. Kaushal, president, Dugri Urban Estate Welfare Society, was to be believed, in Ward No 40 alone, about 2,000 votes, which figured in the draft electoral rolls, were surprisingly deleted in the final publication. Among those whose names were deleted from the final voters’ list were Mr Kaushal himself and all of his family members. Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Mr Kaushal said he intended to contest the civic poll and it was at the behest of his political opponents that the names of a large number of residents of HIG flats in Phase II were found missing in the final electoral rolls.

Mr Kaushal, along with several other residents of the area, repeatedly approached the official concerned for rectification of the error, but without any positive response. In the meantime, he got a special vote made for himself. However, the election office subsequently, to be specific on May 18, just one day before polling, issued a supplementary voter list, carrying 400 names, to be added to the final voters’ list but many of these residents were unaware of the fact and did not cast their vote.

Residents of Dugri Urban Estate, who were deprived of their voting right, were sore at the indifference and apathy of the administration. Mr Kaushal vowed that this section of electorate would not take it lying down and would pursue the matter to its logical conclusion. “The officials can not deliberately or inadvertently deprive us of our constitutional rights and simply get away with it.”



Stitching together football dreams
Naveen S.Garewal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 3
As the world watches the first FIFA-World Cup Soccer match, thousands of small children involved in the stitching of soccer balls remain oblivious of the big event, spending countless days trying to earn a square meal at the cost of their health and education.

Protests by various national and international agencies notwithstanding, child labour in this industry continues unabated. India is the second largest football producer in the world after Pakistan and most of the footballs made in India are produced in three towns of Punjab Jalandhar, Batala and Ludhiana. According to reports of Global March, an organisation which works for the eradication of child labour, there are estimated to be 10,000 to 15,000 child workers involved in the stitching of football in the state.

Since, football-stitching is a home-based industry and middlemen place orders in the homes of individuals, its becomes difficult to detect and eradicate child labour in this industry. “In most cases, football is family work, where a middleman, who acts on behalf of a sports goods manufacturer take orders to homes. The children in the family are forced to sew footballs at the cost of their education, thereby creating a vicious circle of poverty and uneducated labour”, says a spokesperson of Volunteers for Social Action, Punjab, another agency dealing with the issue.

Global March, in its report, has quoted a child as young as 10-year-old saying, “I have been stitching footballs for as long as I can remember. My hands are constantly in pain. It feels like they are burning. There is nothing I can do, I have to help my elder sister complete the order.”

A code of conduct by FIFA, prohibiting use of child labour has forced some local manufacturers, especially those at Jalandhar, to gauge the extent of use of children in the manufacture of soccer balls through an informal survey. They say that they have uncovered 79 stitchers under the age of 14. Child labour continues unabated here despite an international campaign initiated by Global March Against Child Labour. The International Labour Organization (ILO) has also launched its “Red Card to Child Labour” campaign this week to coincide with the start of the 2002 African Cup of Nations that was held in January in Bamako, Mali.

‘The Dark Side Of Football’, a study by an independent NGO India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN), on the football industry in Punjab reads, “We mainly see women and girls at work. A few girls tell us they are getting Rs 2 for half a ball. Working 12 hours a day, they make Rs 15 to Rs 20 each. Another girl is working for Globe Sports. The footballs she is stitching carry the tag: `No child labourer used’. The report wants the industry listed in the `Hazardous Occupation’ category, as children stitching footballs for long hours complain of joint pains and backaches. Many of them suffer from loss of eyesight, chronic back and neck pains, cuts on their fingers and even deformation of their fingers. For younger children, these conditions can last for their lifetime since proper treatment is usually not given.”

Efforts at various levels have effectively brought the issue of child labour in the public eye and forced the industry and companies take up the issue.



Vets threaten to resign en masse
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 3
The Punjab State Veterinary Officers Association (PSOVA) today threatened that if the government went ahead with its decision to sack all veterinary officers appointed during the tenure of the ex-PPSC Chairman Ravi Sidhu, the veterinarians of Punjab would launch a mass resignation drive soon. .

At a meeting of the Association, the office-bearers termed the decision as arbitrary and irrational and a great setback for veterinary services of Punjab’. 



Bid to murder woman
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 3
A couple, paranoid over the possible exposure of their relationship, allegedly tried to murder a woman, who witnessed them in a ‘compromising position’ on Saturday night.

According to information, Ms Shiela Devi visited her friend’s house on Saturday afternoon, but came back without meeting her after seeing her in the ‘compromising position’ with another man of the area whom she also happened to know. The couple allegedly hatched a plan according to which the lover entered Shiela’s house while her husband was away and tried to strangulate her. When the woman raised an alarm, her three children, who were sleeping nearby, also woke up and starting crying for help. Then the lover, allegedly attempting murder, poured kerosene on her from a container lying in the room and set her on fire. The victim has been admitted to the Civil Hospital with burn injuries and the Salem Tabri police has registered a case against the couple under Sections 307, 34 and 120-B of the IPC.

Child killed: Ten-year-old Chiragh, a son of Mr Naresh Kumar of Aman Vihar in Chander Nagar, was succumbed to his injuries at the DMC Hospital on Sunday after he was hit by a tractor-trailer. The Haibowal police handed over the body to the family after an autopsy.

Cases registered: The Civil Lines police has registered a case under Sections 323, 452, 354, 295 and 148 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Baljit Singh, alias Happy, a resident of Brown Road, against Inderpal Singh, alias Ravi, Inderjit Singh, alias Lucky, Satnam Singh, his wife and others. The complainant alleged that the accused came to his shop in connection with a business deal, threatened him, beat him up and also misbehaved with one of his employees.

In another case, the Salem Tabri police has registered a case under Sections 447, 448, 511, 506, 380 and 34 of the IPC on the complaint of Mr Baldev Singh, a resident of Mohali, against Prem Lal, a resident of Mohalla Navneet Nagar, and Sunil Kumar, a resident of the Sham Singh road. The complainant alleged that the accused came to his plot while he was there and threatened him about taking forcible possession of the plot.

In third case, on the complaint of Mr Gurnek Singh, a resident of Bhatrtian village, a case was registered at the Salem Tabri police station against Balkar Singh, Shingara Singh, Darbara Singh, Darshan Singh and Harbhajan Singh, all residents of Haryana, and others. The complainant alleged that the accused, in an attempt to take forcible possession of his plot, had beaten him up and threatened him.



Woman poisoned, hospitalised
Our Correspondent

Doraha, June 3
A woman of Ghaloti village in Payal tehsil has been allegedly poisoned by her husband and her brother-in-law. She was admitted to the New DMC, Ludhiana, yesterday. Kamaljit Kaur, wife of Balbir Singh, has alleged that her brother-in-law, Amarjit Singh, who is unmarried, and her husband forced her to build up extramarital relations with his elder brother.

A case has been registered against Balbir Singh and Amarjit Singh.



‘New power tariff to stifle small-scale industries’
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 3
The revised power tariff , between 26 to 47 per cent for various categories of consumers, proposed by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) will not only burden the common man, but also sound the death knell of the small-scale industries in the state. Instead of giving incentives to the recession-hit industry, the government is bent upon aggravating their financial position.

Pointing out to the locational disadvantage of the state, Mr Harish Khanna, president of the Industry and Trade Forum and the Ludhiana Small Scale Manufacturers Association, said they had to pay higher freight charges to procure raw material and then incur additional charges to dispatch the finished goods. So far the industry has prospered in the state due to cheap power and if even that incentive was withdrawn, the units would be forced to either close down or relocate.

He revealed that of the total power generated and supplied to the state, only 53 per cent was metered and there was no way to effect recovery of such unacceptable and high losses to the Board. The non-remunerative segment includes transmission and distribution losses, free power to the agriculture sector, theft and pilferage. Commenting on the consumption of power by the industry, he said they utilised 42 per cent of the power, but contributed 62 per cent of the revenue. Of the Board’s total cost of generation of Rs 3,269 crore, Rs 2,986 crore is earned from the industrial sector alone. So where is the need to tax them further?”, he questioned.

A cross-section of entrepreneurs said according to estimates, the PSEB is only giving a subsidy of Rs 70 crore to small and medium sector consumers, which was a negligible part of the total revenue. The move to merge medium supply consumers with large supply consumers was a welcome step, but in addition to this, the limit of small power consumers should be raised from 20 KW to 100 KW.

Instead of this step, free power to the agriculture sector, a populist measure, should be stopped, so that the Board did not have to resort to taxing other consumers to make up for the huge deficit that has landed PSEB in the red. The Board has incurred losses to the tune of Rs 2,104 crore on account of power supply (26 per cent) to the agriculture sector, although it does not yield any revenue. If a nominal sum was levied on the power supplied to farmers, it would go a long way in offsetting the losses of the Board. If this was not done, then it was the duty of the government to compensate the Board, they opined.

Another factor is the mismanagement, overstaffing and inefficiency in the PSEB. As per Board estimates, transmission losses are very high. They are likely to be 24 per cent this year. The transformer losses are about 20 per cent. Whereas according to international standards, these should be around 10 per cent. In addition to this, nothing has been done to reduce the staff strength. The ideal strength should be around 50,000 employees, but the board continues to have over 90,000 personnel, they added.

The tariffs were raised by 14 per cent in five years (1992-1997) and in the subsequent years (1997-2001) by only 4. 6 per cent. Now the proposals are between 25 per cent to 47 per cent which are totally unjustified, they added.



Industry decries proposal to jack up power tariff
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 3
Several industrial associations in the city have strongly reacted to the proposal by the Punjab Electricity Regulatory Commission to effect yet another increase in the power tariff for all categories of consumers.

In a joint statement here yesterday, Mr Joginder Kaumar, president, Federation of Tiny and Small Industries of India, Mr O.P. Jindal, president, and Mr Vinod Dhall, general secretary, Focal Point Association, Mr Rajan Gupta, president, Focal Point Association Phase IV-A, Mr Manmohan Singh Ubhi, secretary, Ludhiana Electroplaters Association, Mr T.R. Misra, chairman, Federation of Dyeing Association, and Mr Jaswant Singh Birdi, general secretary, United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association observed that hike in power tariff by 40 per cent for small power (SP) consumers, 47 per cent for medium and large supply and 20 per cent for domestic sector would virtually throttle the small and tiny industrial units, besides adding unbearable financial burden on the common man.

According to the representatives of industry, top brass of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) was keeping the balance sheet for the last financial years under wraps to hide the extent of their financial mismanagement. However, it was learnt that the cumulative losses of the PSEB were around Rs 2618 crore, out of which Rs 2104 crore was shown to have been incurred on account of free power to the farm sector.

Further, they pointed out that there was no justification for a further increase in power tariff because different categories of consumers were already paying between Rs 2.25 and Rs 3 per unit of power as against a generation cost of Rs 2.47 per unit, worked out by a high powered committee, set up by the then Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, in 2000.


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