P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Canadian PM is Divali guest
Varinder Walia and Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, October 24
The holy city would have the honour of celebrating this Divali with a VIP. Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien is to visit the city on the festive day. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip had visited the Golden Temple on October 14, 1997. Heavy security was being organised on the eve of the visit.

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee announced that it would honour the guest with a siropa, a replica of the Golden Temple, books on Sikhism and a shawl besides other gifts. As many as 250 personnel of the task force for internal security have been requisitioned by the SGPC from other gurdwaras, while 100 of its own task force would also be part of the security, owing to the Divali rush.

On a query, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, chief secretary, SGPC, admitted that devotees would face difficulties during the visit. He, however, assured that it would be only for a short duration as the visit was scheduled for only 40 minutes. He clarified that devotees in the temple complex would not pushed out, only the rush would be regulated.

Mr Calcutta said that no memorandums or demands would be presented to the Canadian Prime Minister. “We will accord him a warm welcome with flowers and a red-carpet treatment”.

The guest would be received at the Golden Temple by former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, SGPC President Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Mr Calcutta.

Arrangements have been made to broadcast Mr Chretien’s address from a podium outside the information centre of Harmandir Sahib.

Meanwhile, the district administration has also geared up for the occasion. As many as 2,000 security persons have been deputed along the route from Raja Sansi airport to Harmandir Sahib. As many as 350 security and intelligence personnel would be in plain clothes, said Mr Raminder Singh, Deputy Commissioner.

Mr Chretien would be received at the airport by Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, PWD Minister.

Meanwhile, the Punjabi community in Canada in an e-mail has described the visit as significant for the political future of the community in that country. The Liberal Party of Mr Chretien has close ties with the community.


5000 delegates to attend World Sikh Convention
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 24
Despite stiff opposition, hectic preparations are on to hold the World Sikh Convention as scheduled at Mohali on October 26. The organisers of the convention claim that nearly 5,000 delegates are expected to participate in this convention, of which at least 50 odd Sikh scholars will be from abroad.

Addressing mediapersons here today, Prof Gurtej Singh, Professor of Sikhism and one of the main organisers, said nearly 40 delegates had arrived from the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, UAE, Malaysia and Singapore and the remaining were likely to arrive by tomorrow. Delegates were also expected from Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi, besides various parts of Punjab, he added.

The organisers had planned to host this convention at Dara studio, Mohali. According to information available, the organisers had sought permission from PUDA to allow them to use the Dasehra ground in Phase -8 for the convention. But the same has also been denied.

Mr Gurtej Singh said they were hesitant to disclose the venue keeping in view the threats they were receiving from time to time. However, late in the evening they got the permission to hold the convention at Community Centre, Phase-V, Mohali. Prof Gurtej said the sammelan would be held well within the limits of Sikh maryada and before the Guru Granth Sahib.

He had already apprised senior functionaries, including the Director-General of Police (DGP) and the Chief Secretary, about the threat to their security and they had assured all possible help to ensure that no untoward incident happened..

Talking about the issues to be deliberated, he said Guru Granth Sahib was supreme in Sikhism and no person or Granth could take its place. In fact, the convention would also oppose the move of Patna Sahib and Hazoor Sahib to accord the status of Guru to the Dasham Granth. Though the SGPC and the Akal Takht also do not approve of the same, but certain Sikh radical groups want to do so. But we will not allow this.

Prof Gurtej said deliberations would also be held on the jurisdiction of the Akal Takht. The way hukumnamas were being issued by the Akal Takht jathedar on the issues of the panth were wrong, as no one had the right to issue the ‘hukumnamas’. The third vital issue would pertain to the ex-communication of Sikhs from the Panth as they were opposed to the procedure being followed at present. Besides this various other issues associated with Sikh religion would come up for discussion.

Prof Gurtaj,while answering a query, hailed the decision of the Central Government disallowing sehajdhari Sikhs from voting in the SGPC elections. On being asked if Capt Amarinder, who had opposed the decision, was anti-Sikh, Mr Gurtej quipped “No, he is not anti-Sikh, that may be his politics.”

“I am amazed at the politics the SGPC is indulging in to stop us from raising our voice against some malpractices that have crept in the age-old institutions of the Sikh clergy and Akal Takht. We are simply doing, what the SGPC should have done,’’ said Prof Hardev Singh Shergill, Secretary-General of the Singh Sabha International, who has come from Sacramento to attend the convention.

Among others, who have already arrived are Prof Makhan Singh ( USA); Parbhjit Singh ( Dubai); Prof Jasbir Singh (USA); Ujjagar Singh Gill (Chicago).


Police remand for Badal co-accused

Kharar, October 24
A local court today remanded Jagnandan Singh, a co-accused in the case of corruption and disproportionate assets against former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, in police custody till October 27.

Jagnandan Singh, a resident of Sangrian in Hanumangarh, who is a government teacher, was arrested by the Vigilance Bureau yesterday.

The prosecution sought 10-day police remand for him on the grounds of recovering the alleged fake domicile certificate on the basis of which he got recruited as a teacher, and ascertaining his sources of income from which he allegedly paid the bribe for his selection.

It was submitted that in 2001, when the state government advertised 100 posts of Hindi teacher in Punjab, Jagnandan Singh’s brother-in-law Kuldeep Singh of Ghumiara village in Muktsar district got a fake domicile certificate prepared for him.

The prosecution contended that on the basis of this certificate Jagnandan Singh was selected as Hindi teacher.

The prosecution claimed that Jagnandan Singh, along with his brother-in-law Kuldeep Singh and Harbans Lal, a manager at Badals’ petrol station at Mandi Killianwali in Muktsar, who allegedly worked as a “conduit” for the Badals, approached Badal’s wife, Ms Surinder Kaur, and gave her Rs 2.5 lakh.

Submitting that no test was conducted for the post of Hindi teacher, the prosecution claimed that despite the fact that he possessed no experience certificate or any extra qualification, Jagnandan Singh was awarded 13 out of 15 marks in the interview.

On the other hand, defence counsel alleged that contrary to his arrest shown on Thursday, Jagnandan Singh was illegally picked up in the wee hours of Wednesday and was forced by the Vigilance SP, who is the investigating officer in the case, to depose against the Badals.

Accusing the Vigilance Bureau of forcing him to sign blank papers, the defence alleged that when he refused to accede to the illegal demand of the police, he was subjected to “inhumane treatment”. — PTI


Sukhbir fails to report to Vigilance Bureau
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 24
Mr Sukhbir Badal, Rajya Sabha MP and son of former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, today failed to turn up before the state Vigilance Bureau officials, here for the second round of questioning in connection with the disproportionate assets case registered against the Badal family.

Sources close to Mr Sukhbir claimed that he did not appear before the bureau as the notice sent to him by the investigating agency at his New Delhi official residence had not reached him yet. The bureau had issued fresh directions two days back (October 22) for his personal appearance at its Economic Offences wing (EoW) at 11 am today along with details of his properties and financial transactions.

While Mr Parkash Singh Badal and his wife, Surinder Kaur were asked to account for their sources of income on October 8, Sukhbir’s questioning had remained inconclusive the day after on October 9. At that time, Sukhbir had maintained that he would be ready for any further clarifications on the issue and would furnish the required documents. However, he had along with his parents only furnished written replies regarding some of the queries sought by the bureau last week. But the bureau was not satisfied by the same. Hence, he was once again asked to appear before them.

Sources in the Vigilance said, the officials associated with the investigations in the case were indecisive on the issue of granting him another opportunity to appear before them for they are busy completing the last minute investigations, which were vital, before the challan is presented later this month. The next two days being holidays, on account of Divali and a Sunday, they are hardly left with five odd working days within which the challan has to be presented.

Meanwhile, Mr Badal and his wife, who were also required to furnish their replies to the fresh questionnaires served upon them, also failed to do so.

They too, were not in receipt of these notices, sources close to the Badal family maintain. The bureau had once again asked them to explain certain gaps in the sources of income and expenditure, as the figures mentioned by them in their replies fail to tally with the calculations of the bureau.


Canadian MP clarifies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 24
Mr Gurmant Grewal, MP from Canada, today clarified that he neither coined nor used the expression “den of corruption” with reference to Canadian High Commission in New Delhi as attributed to him in a news report published today.

Mr Grewal held that all he said was that there were certain flaws both in the immigration policy as well as procedures followed in grant of visas which need to be corrected. Some years ago when certain complaints about certain employees of the High Commission came to his notice, he brought them to the attention of the Minister concerned. Immediate remedial measures were taken and employees concerned were removed.

Mr Grewal said he always believed in improving systems than sensationalising things. There are people who try to abuse a system and effort should be to correct the system and make it people or user friendly, he added.


43 PTU courses for troops
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 24
Punjab Technical University (PTU) has signed an agreement with the Army to introduce more technical, management and computer applications degree courses under its distance education programme for serving Army personnel.

Presiding over the first convocation of Vajra Vocational Training Institute, one of its kind in the Western Command, for Army personnel, the Vice-Chancellor of PTU, Mr Y.S. Rajan, said there was a need to empower Army personnel, including jawans and JCOs, to enhance their chances of re-employment after retirement.

“Besides, those who cannot pursue higher studies as regular students due to their engagement in duties, would benefit with the introduction of more than 43 degree courses under the distance education programme, including MBA, MCA, BBA, BSc (IT) and MSc (IT), at Vajra Vocational Training Institute here, which is affiliated to the university as a Regional Learning and Facilitating Centre,” he said.

Dr S.K. Salwan, Senior Adviser, PTU, said the university had set up digital libraries at five of its engineering colleges in the state and Army personnel could become members to have online access to journals, research papers and other information.

Lieut-Gen S. Pattabhiraman, GOC, 11 Corps, said the institute would soon be provided with the latest modes of imparting technical education with the help of the university.

Mr Rajan gave away degrees to 16 candidates of the institute.


Consumers pay hefty bills before Divali
Our Correspondent

Abohar, October 24
A large number of local consumers had to pay their water and sewerage bills at increased rates with arrears today, it being the last day for paying electricity as well as telephone bills.

The Department of Local Bodies had issued a notification on May 2 this year, revising water and sewerage charges, effective from May 1. However, the local body had issued bills at old rates by then.

As making fresh assessment as per the revised rates could be completed only now, bills for the past four months have been presented with arrears for May and June.

The local council had been charging Rs 10 per month per tap as water charges and Rs 20 per toilet. Now owners of 5-marla plots will have to pay Rs 50 per month as flat water rate and the same amount for sewerage, irrespective of the number of taps and toilets. Charges for 5 to 10 marla houses have been fixed at Rs 75, and Rs 100 for houses bigger than that, up to 1 kanal.

Houses with 1 kanal area can also opt for metered supply of water. They will have to pay sewerage charges equal to the drinking water bill for each month. Yellow Card holders, occupying 5 marlas, are entitled to concession.

The local body is now getting ready to enforce the second part of the notification. Institutions, industrial houses and commercial establishments, that had been charged for water and sewerage on average basis, would now have to pay as per metered consumption.


Punjab BJP to campaign in Rajasthan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 24
The President of the Punjab BJP, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, said today that the state unit had been told by the party high command to campaign in four constituencies — Ganganagar, Kesri Singh Pur, Sri Karanpur and Sangria — during the Assembly elections in Rajasthan. These districts are dominated by Punjabi speaking people. Mr Khanna said Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, former President of the state unit, would be In charge of the party team that would leave for Rajasthan from Punjab. To finalise the campaign programme in coordination with the BJP leaders from Rajasthan, a meeting will be held on October 29 at Ganganagar, he added.

Talking about the Punjab Government, Mr Khanna, said Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, had turned a deaf ear towards the just demands of unemployed linemen, who were on hunger strike for the past several days. He said the Government should invite them to listen to their problems, he added.


Bhalla to stay as member of power board
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 24
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) today claimed that Congress legislator Raman Bhalla continued to be Member, Administration, and that Akali leader Gurbachan Singh Bachi had joined the board as a member and would be delegated powers in due course.

An official spokesman here said Mr Bachi had joined the board as a member as a consequence of the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The necessary powers would be granted to Mr Bachi at a later stage. He said Mr Bhalla would continue to serve as Member, Administration.

Sources said that in the light of this statement it was clear that Mr Bachi would not be able to get his old post of Administrative Member which had been recently given to Mr Bhalla. The sources said it would be embarrassing to the state government if Mr Bachi were to exercise the powers of the Administrative Member, who is empowered to make postings and transfers in the board.

The sources said as Mr Bachi had only two and a half months’ tenure left as member of the board, he may be given responsibilities which do not clash with those of the Administrative Member.


IMA condemns registration of cases against doctors
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 24
The local branch of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has condemned the registration of “false” criminal cases against two Ludhiana-based doctors, Dr Baldev Singh Aulakh and Dr Navdeep Singh Khaira. It urged the authorities concerned to constitute a committee comprising senior police officials, civil surgeons, IMA representatives and social workers at district level to establish the negligence of any doctor before the registration of criminal case.

In a press note issued here today, Dr Amrit Sethi, honorary secretary, IMA, Bathinda, said at a meeting of the association held late last night, the registration of “false” criminal cases against these doctors was strongly condemned.

The IMA also demanded that the complainant, on whose complaint the case was registered against the two doctors, should be hauled up before the police for filing a false complaint against the doctors.

He said the complainant had admitted in a suit filed in a civil court that his left kidney was totally damaged and its removal could not be taken as negligence. Later, he lodged complaint against the doctors.


38 couples tie the knot
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, October 24
As many as 38 couples belonging to poor families from Moga, Muktsar, Ferozepore and Faridkot tied the nuptial knot in a mass-marriage function organised by the Gurmit Ragi Granthi Sabha at Khalsa Senior Secondary School here today. The marriages were solemnised as per Sikh traditions. Each couple was given a set of household articles. The sabha spent Rs 2.50 lakh to solemnise the ceremony.

While blessing the newly-weds, Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, who was the chief guest, advised the organisers to identify only those couples who had attained the minimum age of 25 and had a good source of income so that they could lead a happy married life.

Mr Surinder Iqbal Singh Brar, the president of the District Congress Committee, also blessed the newly-weds.

Mr Jaswant Singh, the president of the sabha, said a plan had also been mooted to provide school books and other study material to at least 200 needy students every year from the next academic session.


Divali greetings from CM, Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 24
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Leader of the Opposition Parkash Singh Badal, President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress H.S. Hanspal, President of the BJP (Punjab) Avinash Rai Khanna, in separate statements have greeted the people of the state and the country on the eve of Divali. They have wished that the festival of lights would usher in era of happiness, peace and amity.

The Punjab DGP, Dr A.A. Siddiqui, has also greeted the people of Punjab and has wished that the festival will mark a new era of prosperity. He has appealed to the people to stay away from intoxicants and celebrate the festival in a traditional spirit.


Indian writers return from Pak
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 24
A 10-member Indian delegation of Urdu , Punjabi and Hindi writers, led by Ajit Kaur, a Punjabi writer, returned from Pakistan through the Wagah joint checkpost after attending a literary association of SAARC nations held at Lahore. They said the Pakistani public had welcomed the Indian gesture of 12-point charter for improving Indo-Pak ties with enthusiasm.

Dr Jagtar Singh , a poet and member of the delegation, said they had rich interaction with intellectuals, writers and poets from other countries. The trying times which India and Pakistan faced were the highlight of the symposium. The discussion also stressed that the nations having meagre resources should curtail their defence expenditure and instead spend more on health and education.


Pak child returns after surgery
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 24
A 19-month-old baby, Urja, left for Pakistan through Wagah joint checkpost today after a successful heart surgery in India.

The father of the girl, Mr Shabbir of Karachi, told this correspondent that it was after the successful operation of Noor Fatima that he decided to take medical help in for his daughter in India.

He said the surgery was performed by Dr Rajesh Sharma and Dr Amit Mishra of Narain Hridyalya Hospital in Bangalore. He spent Rs 1,42,000 on the surgery.


Now, electric traction till Jalandhar

Phagwara, October 24
The much-awaited electric traction between Ludhiana and Jalandhar will be inaugurated on October 29 and thereafter, all the trains from New Delhi and other sides would have electric engines till Jalandhar.

Northern Railway sources said one electrification of the Jalandhar-Amritsar section was likely to be completed by early next year.

The sources said work on the double track on the Jalandhar-Pathankot section was under way at a cost of Rs 410 crore. The project is slated for completion by March, 2005. In the first phase, work of double track between Jalandhar and Bhogpur railway station would be completed by the year-end. — UNI


Badal calls on Punjab Governor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 24
The former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today called on the Punjab Governor, Justice O.P. Verma, in Delhi to express grief over the death of Mrs Anita Devi, mother of Justice Verma, according a statement released here by Mr Daljit Singh Cheema, Press Secretary of Mr Badal.


Hike in dearness relief for pensioners
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 24
On the eve of Divali, the Local Bodies Department today announced a hike in dearness relief to its pensioners in both the provincialised and non-provincialised cadres from 43 to 55 per cent. Arrears amounting to Rs 1.60 crore on this account will be released with immediate effect.



Panchhi remanded in judicial custody
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 24
Sukhwinder Panchhi, who was arrested on allegations of cheating and fraud in a human trafficking case on October 17, was today remanded in judicial custody for 14 days by a local court.

Panchhi was arrested after the registration of a case on the complaint of Gafoor Bibi of Sarinh village, who alleged that the former had duped her of Rs 2.93 lakh on the pretext of sending her son abroad. Later, talking to mediapersons outside the court, Panchhi alleged that he had been implicated in a false case. “I have never been involved in human trafficking,” he said, urging his fellow singers to come to his rescue.


Encourage alternative crops, says VC
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, October 24
“Diversification of crops in the state cannot be successful till the Punjab Government arranges for procuring the alternative crops which farmers are being encouraged to grow in the state.”

This was stated by Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) Vice-Chancellor Dr K.S. Aulakh, here yesterday. Dr Aulakh was talking to newspersons after the foundation stone laying ceremony of the PAU camp office here by Punjab Finance Minister Lal Singh.

Stating that over 100000 hectares had been specified to be used for alternative farming, Dr Aulakh mentioned that rice cultivation needs to be substituted more than wheat. “Rice cultivation is leading to water table going down in the state plus higher use of pesticides. More and more areas under rice cultivation should be shifted to other crops. But till the government arranges for the procurement of these crops, its no use encouraging farmers to undertake diverse cropping,” he said.

Pointing out that although the Central Government had already laid down the minimum support price for alternative crops, and the Punjab government had ensured that these are procured by giving contracts of such cultivation, a permanent procurement policy needs to be established.

Laying the foundation stone of the camp office, Mr Lal Singh stated that the PAU had been operating a camp office from a rented accommodation in Mohali, but now the university will have its own office.

The camp office, which will be constructed within the next six months, will cost Rs 85 lakh and is spread over 1050 square yards in Sector 70. The Finance Minister also planted saplings at the site. Mr Lal Singh conducted the ceremony on behalf of the Chief Minister Punjab, who was to lay the foundation stone but could not arrive.


DSP arrested on graft charge
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, October 24
The Bulhowal police has arrested Parminder Singh, Deputy Superintendent of Police of 4th Indian Reserve Battalion, Jalandhar Cantt, under Sections 7, 8, 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act for allegedly taking Rs 1.50 lakh from Ms Rashem Kaur wife of Surjit Singh of Nandachaur village for getting her son appointed as a beldar in Municipal Corporation, Amritsar.

Mr Opinderjit Singh Ghuman, SP (D), conducted an inquiry against DSP and found him guilty. Parminder Singh neither got her son employed not returned the money. When she demanded her money he threatened her of dire consequences.

Sources said two cases of forcibly taking possession of a piece of land and firing had already been registered against DSP Parminder Singh.


Two killed in accident

Hoshiarpur, October 24
Two persons were killed and three seriously injured in a road accident near Singhariwala on the Jalandhar-Hoshiarpur road today. According to the police, the accident occurred when a car coming from Ferozepore collided with a truck.

The dead have been identified as Kumar Inderjit Singh and Suresh Kumar. The injured were admitted to Civil Hospital here. A case has been registered and the truck impounded. The truck driver fled from the scene. — UNI


Undertrial escapes

Moga, October 24
An undertrial yesterday escaped from custody, the police said today.

Darshan Singh, who was in the custody of the Ludhiana police, escaped when he was produced before a local judge in connection with an NDPS Act case.

Just as the accused was about to be taken into the court room, he gave the slip to his escort. — PTI


Pro-VC hits back at Registrar
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 24
Punjabi University Pro-Vice-Chancellor R.N. Pal has made it clear that he is in no mood to give any explanation to Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai.

He chided the Registrar for asking him to explain whom he had asked before accepting the post of Honorary Editor of the Indian Council of Social Science and Research (ICSSR).

The Pro-VC, in a letter to the Registrar recently, has cautioned him about the limits of his office and also warned that a non-academician (the Vice-Chancellor) could lead him into trouble.

He has also written that he has discussed “many matters” with the Chancellor and Punjab Governor, Justice (retd) O.P. Verma, and that the Chancellor would be communicating these to the university. The Registrar had written a letter to the Pro-VC on behalf of the VC.

The Pro-VC’s letter states that the Registrar should read between the lines before sending any “application” to the Pro-VC. It says the Pro-VC has not been appointed by the VC and is not continuing in office at his mercy.

The letter says the terms and conditions of service of the Pro-VC were specified in his appointment letter and that the Registrar should not send any letter that is against the provisions of the varsity calendar.

The Pro-VC has also asked the VC to provide him the specific rules under which it is obligatory for him to inform the VC before accepting an honour.


Industrial unit owners block traffic
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 24
Members of the Jalandhar Industrial Focal Point Extension Association have decided to observe a “black Divali” in protest against show-cause notices issued by the Pujab Small Industries and Export Corporation (PSIEC) threatening to cancel the registration of their plots if they failed to deposit the enhanced cost.

Earlier, industrial unit owners blocked traffic on the busy Jalandhar-Amritsar road near the Amritsar bypass for an hour, demanding the withdrawal of the show-cause notice. They raised slogans against the government.

The president of the association, Mr Narinder Singh alleged that though every member had already paid for the plots way back in 1995, the PSIEC, in an arbitrary fashion, had asked the owners to pay the enhanced cost of the plots.

He said industrial unit owners had been harassed by the authorities concerned on one pretext or the other during the past more than one decade.

Later, they submitted a memorandum of demands to the ADC, Mr Parveen Kumar, and met the Punjab Local Bodies Minister, Choudhary Jagjit Singh, in Dhaliwal village in this connection.


Traders flout administration directions on Divali eve
Our Correspondent

Abohar, October 24
The district authorities had directed the traders that stalls for the sale of firecrackers would be allowed only in open spaces but the direction is not being followed. Traders, occupied half of the Circular road for setting up stalls to sell sweets, firecrackers, fruits and gift packs. It was difficult for the pedestrians to pass through the main bazaar and several other markets in the town.

The policemen on traffic duty today did not bother to enforce the one-way traffic rule on the old Tehsil road and Gaushala road. Shops in one Rani Jhansi market which had been recently raided by the Department of Lotteries and the local police for allegedly selling fake satta slips were found open and did brisk business today.

Police personnel were seen questioning unlicensed firecracker sellers but no action was taken. Shortage of “khoya” and cheese made sweetmeat traders indulge in foul methods of preparing these products. Sweets were also been sold at a higher price as compared to last year.

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