P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



30 booked for ransacking hostel
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 20
The police today registered a case against 30 persons for ransacking the Sports Authority of India (SAI) hostel here and causing loss to government property.

Mohindra College has suspended five students of the college. The students, Gurkirat Singh, Malkiat Singh, Harjit Sigh and Manpreet Singh of the final year and Yadwinder Singh of the first year, have been suspended for committing violence on the college campus yesterday.

The college Principal, Dr R.K. Sharma, said the students had got into a fight with two students staying in the hostel in the afternoon. He said following the incident the college had decided to suspend all five persons, pending an inquiry into the case. He said a three-member committee had been formed to inquire into the case.

Dr R.K. Sharma said students from his college were not responsible for this attack. He said some students whose names were being discussed were old students of the college.

Meanwhile, the Civil Lines police station has registered a case under Sections 452,427,506,148 and 149 IPC against five of the attackers who have been identified as Maxi, Tau, Sandhu, Sonu and Moosa, besides 25 others who accompanied them.

The hostel authorities has declared holidays till Dasehra. The hostel authorities said attempts would be made till then to carry out repair work in the hostel.


Hit, Sarna groups join hands
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 20
The Sikh gurdwara politics in Delhi has taken a new turn as Hit and Sarna groups have joined hands to dislodge Mr Prahlad Singh Chandok from the presidentship of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC).

As many as 35 members of the committee belonging to both factions have served a notice upon Mr Chandok, asking him to call a meeting of the general house of the DSGMC by November 2 to hold fresh elections of the office-bearers of the committee.

Mr Avtar Singh Hit, president of the Delhi unit of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) and Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, president of the Delhi Shiromani Akali Dal, told The Tribune on the phone from Delhi that Mr Chandok and other office-bearers had completed their one-year term on September 24.

As per the rules, fresh elections of the president and other office-bearers for an other term of one year should have been held before or on September 24, they added.

Mr Hit and Mr Sarna, claiming the support of 36 members of a total 51 members, said that if the meeting was not called by November 2, the committee members belonging to their factions would meet on November 17 to elect its new team of the office-bearers including president and general secretary.

They said that they had the adequate number of members with them to hold such a meeting and elect a new team of office-bearers as per the rules and regulations of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Act.

Mr Hit said that he had joined hands with Mr Sarna for a limited purpose of setting the DSGMC house in order. “ I have nothing to do with Mr Sarna as far as Delhi politics is concerned”, said Mr Hit. It may be mentioned the Mr Hit and Mr Sarna are known as sworn political opponents in Delhi’s Sikh politics.

While Mr Hit has affiliation with Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Mr Sarna was close to the late Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

Mr Sarna said that the DSGMC was in a bad shape. Its financial condition was poor. Even its reserve fund worth Rs 7.5 crore, that was in banks as fixed deposit, had been utilised. Its daily deficit was in the range of Rs 2.53 lakh, he added. “ It was one of the most important Sikh institutions that required to be saved from collapsing by taking corrective measures immediately”, said Mr Hit. The Sikh educational institutions being run by the committee were also in turmoil.

A large number of employees had been recruited without any purpose by the committee.

Mr Hit said that he had taken Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, secretary-general of SAD into confidence before joining hands with Mr Sarna on the issue of fresh elections of office-bearers of Committee.


SAD may face tough time in SGPC polls
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 20
Bogged by allegations of backing a leader allegedly involved in her own daughter's murder, coupled with crushing defeat in recently concluded assembly byelections, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) will have a tough time convincing the electors during Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) polls in three constituencies.

Contrary to the party's claim of having a strong hold in "Majha region", it will not be easy for its candidates to emerge victorious.

Already, several political parties have started making a political issue out of Beghowal-based doctor's statement in the matter.

Appearing before a court in Patiala, the doctor had reportedly stated on Monday that SGPC President Bibi Jagir Kaur's close confidant Dalwinder Kaur Dhesi had rolled a wooden object over her pregnant daughter Harpreet Kaur's stomach. The act had resulted in bleeding and, subsequent, abortion.

The doctor had reportedly added the next day that Bibi Jagir Kaur had ordered her daughter's elimination on April 14, 2000.

Giving the issue a political colour, the members of different political parties — including SAD (Amritsar) — are now generating opinion against "the SGPC President in particular, and the party in general".

Opening front against Bibi Jagir Kaur, the party members on Tuesday waved black flags, and placards, before raising slogans in Patiala judicial complex. SAD members claim that such protests will hardy make a difference.

"The issue was raised earlier also when Bibi filed nomination papers for the President's post. But the voters simply refused to pay attention to such allegations, resulting in democratic election of Bibi to the post," they insist.

The members also claim that except for one in Amritsar, they had managed to bag all the seats in Gurdaspur-Amritsar belt "with comfortable margin" during the SGPC elections held in July last.

"Our candidates are strong. We will succeed," they assert.

Justifying their defeat in the byelections to two assembly constituencies held earlier this month, they claim that misuse of state machinery and failure to deal with their complaints had resulted in ruling Congress party's victory.


A touching saga of love and militancy
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 20
If “Bajira” is an unusual name for a book, so is the story that revolves around the name.

One would not like to disclose here the mystery why was “she” called “Bajira”. But the book — “a saga of love and passion in a burning land” — by Kuldeep Bhatnagar is set in the backdrop of militancy that stalked Punjab — 1988 to 1993. The book, both in English and Punjabi, was released at a simple function today by the Punjab Minister for Co-Operation, Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, instead of the Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who did not turn up.

The author, Kuldeep Bhatnagar “Kavideep” or K.K. Bhatnagar, as he is officially known in the echelons of bureaucracy, is a 1970 batch IAS officer, currently posted as Principal Secretary, Technical Education.

“Bajira” is not his first book. Besides having published a book of ghazals, poetry and songs, “Utsav”, he has also written a novel with historical background, “Banda Singh Bahadhur” in Hindi and Punjabi. Mr Bhatnagar has to his credit cassettes of devotional songs, “Shiv Ki Holi” and “Shiv-dham Rasdhara”, as well.

What makes “Bajira” standout, as a novel, is its setting. More than the touching storyline, it is the wide canvass on which the author has sketched this moving story, penned in story-telling form. The sweep of the backdrop stretches from Kaimbwala village, on the fringe of symmetrically designed Chandigarh, to the marsh lands of Kapurthala in the swamps of Harike Pattan, where the Sutlej and the Beas dissolve their identities, to remote villages in Gurdaspur.

The central characters of the book are Satwant and Rosy. And who can ignore the indomitable presence and influence of “Bajira”. The book carries the stamp of Bhatnagar’s observation power.

The details that he has so easily woven into the storyline of how people had migrated from the border villages to near Chandigarh and how they found their way into the bunglows of bureaucrats in posh sectors, makes the reader feel as if the story is about the boy and the girl next door that one had failed to notice in one’s backyard.


Pak qawwal sings in quest of peace
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, October 20
Rooted in Sufi traditions, Sher Miandad sings out of discretion and humility. As the resident qawwal and composer at the shrine of Sufi saint Baba Farid-ud-Din in Pakistan’s Pak Pattan, he can’t but offer melodies that are deep and moving; thoughts that are pure and humble. For him, nowhere does the fabled peace exist, except in the timeless verses that mystics wrote.

In every way then, Miandad’s music is a quest for peace, whether he offers it during “Urs” at the shrine of his beloved saint or during the Kapurthala Heritage Festival. Nearer to Jalandhar, however, the musician’s charms seem to multiply, home as he is in the land of his ancestors who mastered traditional “qawwali.” Originally from Basti Sheikh in Jalandhar, the Dewan of Baba Farid’s Dargah at Pak Pattan honoured Miandad’s grandfather Din Mohd Din with the holy dastaar. Later Miandad’s father Mian Dad Khan became the Darbari qawwal at Baba Farid’s shrine. Now his son is preserving the tradition.

On a visit to Kapurthala, Sher Miandad led The Tribune through his family’s 700-year-old musical history that nurtured talents like that of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. “We trace our roots to Haji Maru Khan who migrated to Jalandhar from Ghazni ages ago. Sahab Dad Khan and Khalaq Dad Khan were his sons. I am a descendant of Sahab Dad, while Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan hails from Khalaq Dad’s family. We are brothers,” says Miandad whose musical prowess has earned him a place among guest lecturers at the University in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The musician also forms part of “Sufi Moon”, a group that represents an encounter between Swiss Alphorns and Sufi music of Pakistan. It was formed after Swiss vocalist Anna Grichting created a fusion piece with Miandad during one of the Sufi Soul World Music festivals in Pakistan. Says Miandad, “At Sufi Moon, we compose music that explores the spiritual symbolism of the moon, which is also the symbol of Islam — the Crescent.” Intense rhythms, deep percussions and vocal improvisations form the basis of Sufi Moon’s music.

Interestingly, when Sher Miandad is not in concert, he is offering music at Baba Farid’s Dargah in Pak Pattan. He tells of how Pakistan best represents the relationship between urban structures and cultures in its network of shrines housing the graves of Sufi saints. “Tourists still flock shrines in Uchch, Multan, Jalalpur and Lahore. These structures are rich, both musically and architecturally.”

It is in these shrines that the divine qawwali originated, the kind, which Miandad practises. “My melodies enchant because their origins are divine. I sing Sufi poetry of Hazrat Amir Khusro, Baba Farid, Sultan Bahu and Baba Bulle Shah, who talked of purging hearts of evil. I also sing commercial qawwali, but even while singing commercially, I never divorce myself from the basic purpose of music, which is pacifying aggression.”


Search for greener pastures leads man to death
Tribune News Service

Mahilpur, October 20
Amrik Singh, a 30-year-old resident of Nadalon village, near Mahilpur, in Hoshiarpur district died due to suffocation while being transported from Syria to Turkey by travel agents in a container.

The news of his death cast a pall of gloom in Nadalon village. His family was expecting his return soon so that his marriage could be solemnised.

Amrik Singh, son of Darshan Singh, sarpanch, Nadalon, had left for Jordan on June 17 in search of greener pastures. He had paid Rs 4 lakh to an agent based at Kharaudi village.

Mr Darshan Singh said Amrik was in touch with his family till August 20. But his phone calls stopped after August 20, which caused worry to his family members.

“The agent told us time and again that Amrik is fit and fine. But when we got suspicious, we contacted his friend on the phone on October 18, who told us that Amrik had died in Turkey while being transported. He told us that there were nearly 23 Pakistanis and 10 Indians in Jordan along with Amrik. All of them were on the way to Iraq from Jordan on foot. From Iraq they were taken to Syria and from Syria they were taken to Turkey in the container,” said Mr Darshan Singh.

The family of Amrik has contacted the Turkish Embassy in New Delhi, which has sought details about Amrik. Meanwhile, Mr Darshan Singh has filed a complaint against the travel agents at the Mahilpur police station.

When this correspondent contacted Amrik’s friend, who had given information regarding his death to his family, he denied having any information about Amrik. On being asked to enquire about Amrik from other Punjabis there, he said: “We do not know any Amrik from Nadalon or the Hoshiarpur area.”


Vested interests against use of modified bitumen
A. S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 20
Powerful vested interests in Punjab are trying to derail a government drive for large-scale use of modified bitumen on road surfaces in the state because it can neither be pilfered from government stocks nor sold in the black.

Called Crumb Rubber Modified Bitumen (CRMB), it increases the life span of a road by at least 20 per cent. But it cannot be put to any other use as in the case of ordinary bitumen which can also be converted into black oil and sold as such. Since the CRMB is supplied by public sector undertakings, bogus or over billing is also ruled out.

Hence, the hue and cry in certain organisations in Punjab despite clear directions from the Government of India that only CRBM should be used for road surfaces. India has the second largest road network in the world. Over 90 per cent of the roads are ordinary bitumen-based and bitumen plays a vital role for their longevity and safety.

Over the last decade, vast and extensive research has been done in this field by various polymer companies such as Tinna Overseas, petroleum companies such as Indian Oil Corporation, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, research institutions such as the Central Road Research Institute, Highways Research Station, the Indian Institute of Technology and Gujarat Engineering Research Institute.

The need for introducing better quality bitumen has also been underlined by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MORTH) and the Indian Road Congress (IRC ) in all their seminars. Experts say that the technology of modified bitumen was launched 1998 while the research had started way back in 1993.

India is a poor country and govt of India was very clear that the product should be cost effective. Over the last six years, modified bitumen has proven its worth and now it is mandatory for state governments to use the product on schemes being sponsored by MORTH. According to experts, there are various types of polymers, which can be used as additives but so far in India, only Crumb Rubber Modifier is proving its worth. There are many reasons attributed to this but some of the main advantages over other polymer is that it is easier to use and handle at site than other modified bitumens.

In Punjab the product was introduced way back in 1998 and even though the roads showed improvement the use was restricted due to non-availability from government refineries.

All over India, the use has been widespread and states like UP, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala , Maharashtra, Chattisgarh and Rajasthan have taken the lead by introducing CRMB in all state as well as centrally sponsored schemes.

The Ministry of Rural Development has also recommended CRMB. It has been concluded that by using rubberised bitumen the material savings alone will be over 20 per cent in the life span of the road. 


Bitterness brews in Sugarfed
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 20
Bitterness is brewing in Sugarfed between the new Chairman, Mr Kanwaljit Singh Lally, and the Managing Director, Mr Kulbir Singh Sidhu.

The bone of contention is the differences on various administrative and service matters. Rather than gearing up for the onset of the crushing season of sugarcane on November 15, they are busy crushing the board by trading barbs.

According to sources in Sugarfed, the new Chairman, who took charge in September, is sore over the ``ego problem'' of the MD. The tussle came to the fore when the Board of Directors meeting called to finalise purchases, including those of gunny bags, was postponed by the Managing Director on Tuesday without assigning any specific reason even as orders for gunny bags had to be placed well in advance.

Sources say that the Chairman was also unhappy with Mr Sidhu for not discussing the wherewithals of the functioning of the mills but showing more interest in seeking honours for the services rendered by him as Coordinator during the 400th year of installation of Guru Grant Sahib at Amritsar, they add.

He has not been attending even the routine meetings regularly and deputing junior officers instead, besides not taking phone calls also, it is learnt.

Mr Lally, when contacted, refused to comment on the issue saying that he would take up the matter with the Chief Minister for ensuring smooth functioning of the board and proper management of the sugar mills.

Mr Sidhu said he respected the Chair and differences if any were over rules and procedures. He said since his services were placed at the disposal of the Board of Directors last month, he wanted his services to be regularised before he was asked to take decisions on financial and quasi- judicial matters.

Mr Sidhu said since no decision was taken at the meeting held yesterday morning on the regularisation of his services, he had to postpone the meeting to be held later in the evening as matters pertaining to purchases and other bids worth lakhs and crores had to be decided.

However, all routine matters pertaining to clearance of salary bills and other emergency expenditure were being cleared regularly, he added.

On the agenda item pertaining to his services being honoured, Mr Sidhu said the former Chairman, Mr Pritam Singh Kaunta, had mooted this item and the same could be dropped.

Meanwhile, a union member said that while the tussle was on between the two top functionaries, the organisation continued to be in loss and no efforts were being made to bring the sugar mills out of red.

He said over a dozen sugar mills had been set up in the state in cooperative sector with the objective of diversification in agriculture but the same stood defeated as the farmers had drastically reduced the area under sugarcane cultivation and had returned to the traditional paddy and wheat cultivation.


Comments against Kewal Krishan ‘uncalled for’
Our Correspondent

Mohali, October 20
Groups owing allegiance to the local MLA and the Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha have been levelling allegations and counter-allegations against each other.

While Mr Balbir Singh Sidhu, member, PPCC, had attacked the MLA, the sarpanch of Simbalmajra village held Mr Sidhu responsible for creating factionalism in his village.

Mr Balbir Singh Sidhu, a member of the PPCC, had said that the MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, had made “uncalled for” comments against Dr Kewal Krishan, Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha. He said the MLA should think before making comments on senior party leaders. He said earlier the MLA used to make statements against the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. Now he had attacked Dr Kewal Krishan.

He said Dr Kewal Krishan was a very senior Congress leader, who commanded a lot of respect because of his clean image. He had gone to attend a function at Simbalmajra village, falling in the constituency of the MLA , because he had been invited by the organisers. At the function Dr Kewal Krishan made no comments against the MLA as was being presumed by the latter.

The sarpanch of Simbalmajra, Mr Swaran Singh, who owed allegiance to the MLA, alleged that Mr Sidhu had tried to create factionalism in the village. He said that he had been elected sarpanch of the village unanimously but Mr Sidhu was spoiling the atmosphere in the village.

He said that Mr Sidhu had set up a gram sudhar sabha in the village and persons close to him had been made the chairman and the president of the sabha. He alleged that Mr Sidhu was trying to create hindrances in the working of the village panchayat.

The sarpanch said the MLA had brought about a lot of development in the village. A sum of Rs 24 lakh had been spent on various works.


Akali clash at Patiala shameful, says Bhaur
Our Correspondents

Phagwara, October 20
The SGPC General Secretary, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, today termed as shameful the clash at the judicial complex in Patiala yesterday and alleged it was the handiwork of the Congress.

He asserted that the Patiala administration and intelligence knew in advance that SGPC President Jagir Kaur was to appear in the CBI Court, but they did not make any security arrangements to keep the protesters at bay. The police took action long after the clash started, he remarked.

It was part of a game plan of the Congress to defame the SAD and show its leaders in poor light, alleged Mr Bhaur.

He said if any Sikh had any reservations, he should petition before Akal Takht. Sikhs should desist from any action that might bring disrepute to the community, he added. The religion would not flourish with incidents like the one at Patiala, he said.

Akali leader Rajwant Singh Jhikka was also present on the occasion.

HOSHIARPUR: Dal Khalsa has termed the clash between Badal and Mann supporters outside the Patiala district courts as disgraceful for Sikhs.

Mr Shinder Pal Singh and Dr Manjinder Singh, organising secretary and finance secretary of the Dal, held both the groups equally responsible for the incident. They said it had brought a bad name to the community.

“The images in all newspapers with men from two factions of the Shiromani Akali Dal assaulting each other and pulling off turbans show that they have lost their senses in the pursuit of negative politics,” they said.

Taking a swipe at Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD President, they said the unfolding of the case of SGPC President Jagir Kaur’s daughter had put the community in a piquant position.

Attacking the decision of Mr Badal in supporting a “tainted person” for the top seat, they said it showed the “moral bankruptcy” of the pro-Badal SGPC members as they had accepted the “unethical” decision.


Woman alleges removal of kidney by doctor
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 20
Mr Kultar Singh, SSP, has reportedly marked an enquiry into the alleged removal of a kidney by a government doctor in the government-run Guru Nanak Dev Hospital here to SP City-II, Mr Harmanbir Singh Gill.

He has asked the SP to complete the enquiry within three days.

It may be mentioned here that Ms Premwati of a colony near Sitla Mata Temple in Durgiana Temple area here had alleged that Dr Jaswinderpal Kaur Shergill, Professor and Head of the Surgery Department of Government Medical College had removed her kidney when she was admitted to the hospital for surgery and treatment of stones in March 2001. She alleged that even during operation, her urine pipe was slashed. She alleged she was operated upon thrice but could not get relief from stomach ache.

Wife of Mr Roshan Lal, a shopkeeper at Bada Hanuman Temple in Durgiana Temple, she alleged that after three months of the operation when the pain become unbearable, it was found in an ultrasound scan that her kidney had been removed.

She alleged that when she approached Dr Shergill, the letter said she was being misled. She further said an ultrasound scan earlier this month again revealed that her kidney had been removed.

Ms Premwati today gave an application to the SSP and sought registration of a case against the doctor and others involved in removal of her kidney.

However, Dr Shergill refuted the allegations and said the patient was informed about removal of her kidney and it was with her (Premwati’s) consent that it was removed.


Bhajan attends bhog of RSS man
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 20
Human relationships grow beyond political ideologies. That probably explains as why for a while senior Congress leader and former Haryana Chief Minister, Bhajan Lal did not mind being in the company of RSS and BJP leaders. He came to pay homage to his childhood friend, Sardari Lal Thapar, a local RSS leader, here today.

Mr Bhajan Lal had come to attend the bhog ceremony of Sardari Lal Thapar. Mr Bhajan Lal was candid enough to acknowledge, “Sardari Lal Thapar was a hardcore RSS man, but he was my dear friend and used to manage my elections”. In an emotional tribute to Sardari Lal Thapar, Mr Bhajan Lal said, “I don’t know since when we had been together. I only know that I have lost a dear friend and I am feeling all alone”.

However no other Congress leader was present at the bhog ceremony. It was only senior BJP and RSS leaders like Lala Lajpat Rai, Mr Mitter Sen, Mr Satpal Gosain and several other leaders of the saffron outfits who attended the ceremony. Mr Bhajan Lal remarked, “Some relationships are more humane than political”. And he appeared to be right as he wiped tears off his eyes.

Later talking to this reporter, Mr Bhajan Lal maintained that Haryana had legitimate right over Sutlej waters. He said, “We have full faith in the Supreme Court and we are sure that the court will deliver us the justice”. He did not want to comment on the stand of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, on the issue.

Mr Bhajan Lal said that there was a Congress wave in Haryana and his party was all set to storm to power there. He pointed out that the Congress had made a clean sweep in the parliamentary elections in the state and the performance would be repeated in the Assembly elections also.


Boycott, dharna mark MC meeting
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, October 20
BJP councillors led by Mr Shwait Mallik staged a walkout at the Municipal Corporation House meeting today in protest against the short notice given for the meeting.

They said the meeting was unconstitutional as they had received the agenda only a few hours earlier. According to rules, at least 72 hours are allowed for councillors to study the agenda. The BJP councillors demanded the cancellation of all proceedings.

Earlier, contractors of the Civic Works Union staged a dharna on the premises of the municipal corporation office even as a tea party carried on nearby after the inauguration of the renovated office of the Mayor.

The contractors, led by Mr Ramesh Talwar, president, and Pardeep Gulati, general secretary, said the corporation claimed to be cash-strapped, but was hosting parties while holding back their payments to the tune of Rs 12 crore for the past 22 months.

The issue of fund crunch came to the fore again at the meeting when a ruling party councillor said the development works carried out were “negligible”. Even to get five bags of cement, they had to literally beg, while the corporation workforce was drawing salaries without any work, the councillor added.

Mr K.S. Kang, Municipal Commissioner, said they were awaiting from the government Rs 5 crore in excise and Rs 8 crore under a Central government scheme for urban development.

The money has been received by the state from the Centre under the UD-8 Scheme, but has not been released to the corporation.

The haste with which the meeting was called this morning was also criticised by many ruling party councillors.

A demand was raised to open another branch of the “birth and death office” in the courts complex. The councillors demanded that all civic works be scrutinised and cleared before the final payment was made, as “sub-standard works are known to have been executed earlier”. They pointed out several areas where the works were not up to the mark.

Mr Kang announced a plan to sell 1,295 shops owned by the corporation to raise Rs 55 crore as also some land. The proposal was protested against by Senior Deputy Mayor Suwinder Chhinda. The commissioner said that the house tax on the shops was more than the rent collected by corporation, making them a liability.

Talking to The Tribune, some ruling party councillors also pointed out that the state government was avoiding the reimbursement of Rs 2.75 crore due to the corporation.


Marriage palace damaged in fire
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 20
Kohinoor Marriage Palace located on the Bathinda-Barnala bypass road was today reduced to ashes after it caught fire early today due to some electricity short-circuit.

Information gathered by The Tribune that Kohinoor Marriage Palace was reduced to ashes within no time after it caught fire at about 6 a.m. By the time, the local fire station was informed about the incident and fire engines reached the spot, the marriage palace was in flames.

Mr Satish Kumar, owner of the marriage palace, when contacted, said that he had suffered a loss to the tune of lakhs of rupees. He added that he had lost everything as he had spent whatever he had on the marriage palace. He said that as no one was inside the marriage palace at the time of fire, there was no harm to any human being.

Mr Baldev Singh, Assistant Divisional Fire Officer (ADFO), when contacted, said that fire station was informed about the incident at about 6.35 a.m. The fire was ultimately extinguished after about two hours.

He pointed out that the marriage palace was not fitted with proper fire-fighting system as per the norms laid down for the same.


Doctors condemn suspension of MS
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 20
The Punjab State Medical and Dental Teachers Association today condemned the suspension of Dr Geeta Sharma, Medical Superintendent of Shri Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital.

While demanding withdrawal of orders, the members of the association at a general body meeting alleged that the MS was suspended on flimsy grounds without giving any opportunity to explain her position.

It may be mentioned here that, Dr Geeta Sharma, was suspended for alleged negligence on the directions of Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

The orders were issued in this regard by Mr Satish Chandra, Secretary, Medical Education. Ms Bhattal had visited a medical college’s surgery ward and expressed dissatisfaction over the cleanliness and other facilities.

However, many eyebrows were raised at her suspension orders as, Dr Sharma, was reportedly to be promoted as the Government Medical College Principal.

Dr A.S. Padda, president of the association, in a press statement emphasised that the government should appoint Director, Research and Medical Association (DRME) on regular basis and also fill all other vacant posts of teaching and other staff in the hospital. He said the ad hocism was affecting the functioning of the institution.


24-year-old donates Rs 5 lakh for deaf and dumb school
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 20
Jaskiran Singh Randhawa (24) yesterday donated Rs five lakh to a local gurdwara, he was moved by the fate of a local Deaf and Dumb School and School cum Home for the Blind. Jaskiran changed his mind and today the children of the two Schools run from the same premises are richer by Rs five lakh.

He earlier donated Rs 3.2 lakh for the life long medicines of a boy who had none to turn to after suffering from kidney failure. He has donated more than Rs two lakh for the treatment of a young girl from Garhwal who was admitted to the AIIMS hospital but was deserted by her attendants. The girl is under treatment in Delhi.

He said “My maternal uncle died following a heart problem while admitted in a hospital in Chandigarh because he was not attended to properly. It then I thought that if my uncle could meet this fate despite all resources at his command, what must be happening to those who have no means to meet expensive hospital bills”.

It after his uncle’s death Jaskiran started his philanthropic activities. His uncle willed him some crores of rupees because he did not have any issue of his own. Designing in his father Jashanpreet Singh Randhawa is a judge in the High Court.

Col (retd) Karminder Singh, who is the Secretary of the Society for the Welfare of Handicapped which runs the two schools, said the School was thinking of expanding as it had insufficient space presently. The society is presently looking after 75 deaf and dumb students and 25 blind inmates of whom 22 reside in the School premises itself. 


Smoke from fields engulfs city
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 20
Dense fog caused by the burning of paddy straw engulfed the region and caused irritation in eyes yesterday evening.

The trouble began with sunset when temperature dropped and the smoke from fields remained trapped in moist air and swept the city.

Not only the two-wheeler drivers but the drivers of the heavy vehicles, shopkeepers and residents suffered a lot. A city-based advocate said, “When I was strolling on the Multania railway overbridge after dinner, I felt breathlessness and irritation in eyes. The dense fog kept troubling me at home too. The orders banning the paddy straw issued by the district magistrate are useless as they are never executed.

Many shopkeepers on the Bathinda-Goniana road also expressed resentment over the non-implementation of district magistrate’s orders.

Mr K.A.P Sinha, district magistrate, could not be contacted but official sources confirmed that orders banning the burning of paddy straw had been issued but no action had been taken against any erring farmer.

No official of the Punjab Pollution Control Board could be contacted.


NRI bhavan in Moga soon
Tribune News Service

Moga, October 20
A meeting of the NRI Sabha, was held under the chairmanship of the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Mandeep Singh, here yesterday.

It was decided at the meeting that an NRI Bhavan would be built in Moga at a cost of Rs 25 lakh. The Sabha members have already seen at least four sites for the building and the site would be finalised soon.

The DC said that the construction should start positively in November as this is the time when NRIs arrive in India and it would help generate funds for the building.

The chairman of the Punjab NRI Sabha, Jalandhar, Mr K.S. Sidhu, announced that they would bear 25 per cent of the cost of the building.

The DC said that in the next couple of months more and more NRIs should be registered in the sabha so that more funds could be collected.

The SP (H), Mr Surjeet Singh, said that on the lines of the NRI special cell set by the Punjab police in Chandigarh, the city police had established an NRI cell and he himself was its nodal officer. The NRI Sabha looks into the property disputes and other affairs of NRIs.


MLA who plays Lord Rama
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, October 20
Mr Ashok Sharma, Chairman, Development Corporation and local MLA, who is playing the role of Lord Rama, was the centre of attraction here. Mr Sharma, 54, is playing Lord Rama for the Krishna Natak Club here while his younger brother Babli is playing the role of Laxmana.

While talking to The Tribune on Tuesday, Mr Sharma said that he joined the Ramlila about 38 years ago and in the beginning he had performed the role lof ‘Sakhi’ (small baby artist).


Chandan Das to perform at Patiala
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 20
Noted ghazal singer Chandan Das will perform at a ghazal concert in Patiala on October 23.

The concert, organised by Mehak Cultural Forum, Patiala, to celebrate its fourth foundation day, will be held at Central Public Library Auditorium.

The state Cabinet Minister, Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, will be the chief guest on the occasion. The DGP, Dr A.A. Siddiqui, will preside over the function and Mr A.S. Chatwal, Chief Administrator, PUDA, will be the guest of honour. This was stated in a press note issued by Dr Naresh Raj, president of the cultural forum, today.


Punjab Govt anti-Punjabi, says Dr Mann
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 20
Terming the Punjab Government as “anti-Punjabi” and the proposed World Punjabi Conference, to be organised by the Punjab Government in the first week of December at Patiala as a “tamasha”, the Kendri Punjabi Lekhak Sabha (Sekhon) also described the proposed World Punjabi Conference as an attempt by the Punjab Government to hide its anti Punjabi language, anti-Punjabi literature and anti-Punjabiat policies.

Dr Tejwant Mann, general secretary of the Kendri Punjabi Lekhak Sabha (Sekhon), alleged here today that in view of the Punjab Government’s “anti-Punjabi” policies, this conference seemed to be “farce”. — TNS


Consult farmers before revising power tariff: BKU
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 20
The Bharati Kisan Union (BKU) has demanded that members of the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission should seek the views of the rural people before revising the fares of power.

The commission will be announcing the revised tariff soon and the union was of the view that the commission should not overlook its representation given on September 2.

Prof Manjit Singh Kadian and Mr Bhupinder Singh Maheshri, acting chief and spokesperson, respectively, of the union, said they were paying Rs 160 per horse power out of which a large percentage was in the form of government subsidy. The proposed tariff was Rs 220 which was on high.

The quality of power was also poor and erratic as compared to the urban sector. During this paddy season the rural domestic supply was almost nil and the villages had to go without power for days on end, they said.


DC authorises treasury office to sell revenue stamps
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 20
In an unprecedented move, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr K.A.P. Sinha, today authorised the district treasury office to sell revenue stamps to the public directly from its public counter so that inconvenience to the people could be stopped.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that for the past many months, there was a shortage of revenue stamps after the local post offices stopped the sale of the same when the postal authorities came in conflict with the treasury office over the issue pertaining to the percentage of commission.

Information revealed that while the district treasury office had been offering 3 per cent commission to the postal authorities over the sale of revenue stamps from its counters, the postal authorities had been demanding that post offices would sell the revenue stamps only if treasury office would give 6 per cent commission on the sale of same.

Information revealed that for the past few months, the people of this town and its surrounding areas had been facing problem on account of an acute shortage of revenue stamps. Some instances were also came to light when revenue stamps were sold at premium.

Mr Sinha today ordered the district treasury office to sell the revenue stamps to safeguard the interests of the local people.


Clerk suspended for embezzling Rs 3.5 lakh
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, October 20
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Alok Shekhar, has suspended a registry clerk for misappropriating funds to the tune of Rs 3.5 lakh.

According to sources, the accused, Gurpreet Singh, was posted as a registry clerk at Kotkapura sub-tehsil on June 2, 2003. He worked there for about a year after which he was transferred as enquiry clerk to Sadar Faridkot.

Few days back the District Revenue Officer (DRO) scrutinised the registry fee records of Kotkapura and suspected some embezzlement in the same. The DRO, Mr Rajbir Singh, then wrote to the Deputy Commissioner on October 1 in this regard and recommended probe into the matter.

The Deputy Commissioner then sought a report from the Naib Tehsildar of Kotkapura. The report found the charges levelled by the DRO true. He then ordered an inquiry into the matter by the DRO. Investigations revealed that the registry clerk was charging full registry fee from the parties, but was depositing only nominal amount in the state exchequer.

The DRO in his inquiry also found that the accused also tampered with the official records. He found that Gurpreet embezzled the funds to the tune of Rs 3,47,121 during his tenure as a registry clerk. 


35 cr to be spent on repair of roads, says minister
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 20
Punjab Public Works Minister Partap Singh Bajwa today said 18 new two-way corridors and 40 railway overbridges would be constructed in the state in a phased manner.

Speaking at a function here while inaugurating the work of repair of three roads in Nabha, the minister said Rs 35 crore were being spent on the repair of link roads all over the state out of which Rs 6.4 crore would be spent in Nabha constituency on the reapir and upgradation of roads.

Mr Bajwa said the repair work on light-kilometre-long stretch of Nabha-Bhawanigarh road, Nabha-Gobindgarh road (12.64 km long) and the Nabha-Bir Dosanjh, had been approved by the Centre at a cost of Rs 6.4 crore.

He said besides this approval had also been given for the upgradation of the Bhadson- Tarkheri road at a cost of Rs 2.57 crore under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna. He said two bridges had also been approved at Rohti village on the Ghaggar branch near Nabha and at Thuhi Channo on the Nabha- Bhawanigarh road. These will be constructed at a cost of Rs 1.96 crore.


Woman cop arrested for taking bribe
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 20
The Women Cell Incharge in the city Police, whose responsibility is to tackle crime against women, was today caught red-handed accepting a bribe of Rs 5,000 from a young woman by the Patiala Vigilance Bureau.

Inspector Tripta Sood was arrested while accepting a bribe of Rs 5,000 from complainant Simarjit Kaur, a resident of Alipur Theh near Balbehra in the district. The raid took place at the office of the Inspector which is situated opposite that of the Inspector General of Police in the Barandari Gardens.

According to Vigilance sources, Simarjit Kaur had approached the Women’s Cell Incharge to complain against her in laws. The woman in her complaint had stated that her in laws had started mistreating her when she delivered a female child one year back. The complainant said because of this she was thrown out of her in laws house at Syal village near Pehowa in Haryana and was presently living with her parents at Alipur Theh. She claimed that she had approached the Women’s Cell to get justice in the case.

The complainant claimed that the Women Cell in charge demanded Rs 10,000 from her stating if she gave this amount the Women Cell would help her in getting the required compensation from her husband. She said as she was from a poor family, she had managed to negotiate this amount down to Rs 5,000. This money was recovered from the Inspector after a raid by local bureau Deputy Superintendent of Police G.S. Bedi.


7 held for trespassing
Our Correspondent

Kharar, October 20
Seven persons have been arrested on charges of trespassing, rioting, being armed with deadly weapons and theft here.

According to the police, the persons had come to forcibly take possession of a house and a piece of land falling in municipal ward no 5.

They had allegedly taken away cash and household items belonging to Mr Amrik Singh, who was staying in the house.

It is alleged that the suspects also threatened the daughter and a servant of Mr Amrik Singh.

It is learnt that Rajnish Kumar who claimed that the disputed land belonged to him, wanted the area to be vacated. But on the other hand, Mrs Harwinder Kaur, wife of Mr Amrik Singh, said that the land had been taken on rent two years ago for a period of five years. A case in this regard was going on in a court.

The police had registered a case under Sections 452, 447, 148, 149 and 380 of the IPC in this regard.


3 of family hurt as dacoits attack house
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, October 20
Three members of a family were seriously injured when dacoits, dressed as police commandos with muffled faces and armed with sharp-edged weapons, attacked them at their residence here today.

Mr Harbans Singh, a former panch and president, cooperative society, of Gandwan village, his wife Joginder Kaur and son Harinder Singh were injured when the dacoits entered their residence at 1.30 am this morning. The dacoits decamped with Rs 35,000 cash and 20 tolas of jewellery.

While Harbans Singh was referred to a Jalandhar hospital in critical condition, the other two were admitted to the Civil Hospital here with multiple injuries.

The SP(D), Kapurthala, Mr Gurmit Singh, and DSP, Phagwara, Mr Jaspal Singh, visited the site today. The dog squad and finger print experts were also requisitioned.

Talking to newsmen at local Civil Hospital, Mr Harinder Singh, said the dacoits had knocked at their door saying they were policemen and wanted to search their house. The entire area was plunged into darkness at that time as there was no power, he added.

Meanwhile, people from around three villages converged at the site today and condemned the growing incidences of crime. A case had been registered and raids were being conducted to trace the culprits, the DSP added. 


Two chemists held for selling intoxicant drugs
Our Correspondent

Batala, October 20
The Batala police has booked two chemists of Fatehgarh Churian for selling intoxicant drugs without prescription of doctor.

Mr Ram Singh, Batala police district chief, said a team of anti-drug cell of Batala police, headed by Inspector Santokh Singh, raided the shops of M/s Nitin Medical Store and M/s Dhvindra Medical Store, Fatehgarh Churian, and seized 1759 capsules and 2666 injections from their possession.

He said their shops had been sealed and owners of the shops were arrested under Section 188 of the IPC.


SPO’s wife murdered in police colony
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 20
In a bizarre incident Veerawanti, wife of a Special Police Officer (SPO) with Home Guards, was allegedly found murdered at her residence late this evening.

Sources said the deceased was the wife of Mr Balwinder Singh an SPO, and a resident of police colony in the densely populated the Lal Singh Basti area of the city. The sources said when the SPO’s son returned home from tuition this evening his mother did not open the door of the house. The boy had to scale its wall to get in side and found his mother dead.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, Mr Ajay Maluja, SP (D), and other senior police officers reached the spot. Taking serious note of the security lapse in this case Mr Dev suspended two policemen, who were on security duty at the gate of the colony. A dog squad, finger print and forensic experts have been pressed into service.


SC student seeks parity with domicile holders
Our Correspondent

Kharar, October 20
A local student belonging to the Scheduled Castes (SC) category of Punjab origin has complained that she has been denied admission to the BSc (nursing) course by the Punjab Department of Medical Education and Research even though she secured the ninth rank among SC candidates and was placed 105th in the overall Punjab Para Medical Entrance Test (PPMET).

Ms S.P. Snimar accused the department of ignoring the instructions of the Central and state governments in this regard. She said her father was an employee of the Punjab Government posted at Mohali. She was denied admission to the course against the relevant quota as she had passed her plus one and plus two (medical) from an institution in Chandigarh. She said even the orders of the Punjab State Commission for Scheduled Castes issued on October 1 to admit her against the 85 per cent quota had not been honoured.

The commission had relied on the policy of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, which is the nodal agency for implementing the reservation policy in the country, while issuing its orders. The relevant extract of the Union Government’s policy mentioned in the orders states: “It is also clarified that a Scheduled Castes/Tribes person who has migrated from the state of origin to some other states for the purpose of seeking education, employment, will be deemed to be a Scheduled Caste/Tribe of the state of origin and will be entitled to derive benefits from the state of origin, not from the state to which he has migrated.”

Ms Snimar said in compliance with the commission’s orders, the Secretary, Medical Education and Research, Punjab, directed the Chairman of the selection committee-cum-Principal, Guru Gobind Singh Medical College, Faridkot, to admit her to the BSc (nursing) course as per merit in the general and reserved categories against 85 per cent quota of Punjab state origin.

However, when she went for the second counselling a message was received advising the selection committee not to admit her against the 85 per cent quota but under the 15 per cent quota for students from outside the state of Punjab.

In the message of the Department of Medical Education and Research, it was stated that the policy of admissions in the department is with reference to the school from where the student had done plus one and plus two and not with reference to the state of domicile. It mentioned the case of Alisha Nayyar, a Scheduled Castes candidate, who wanted to take admission to the MBBS course in Punjab on the ground that she had a domicile of the state. She had done plus one and plus two from Delhi. The high court had recently dismissed her petition and the admission policy of the department was upheld.

However, Ms Snimar said the facts in the Alisha Nayyar case were different because, as stated in the department’s letter, she had a domicile of Punjab and might not be a member of the Scheduled Castes of Punjab origin. She argued that the dismissal of Nayyar’s petition by the high court could not be made automatically applicable in her own case unless the instructions given in the Union Ministry of Home Affairs letter dated February 22, 1985, which had been accepted by the Punjab Government, were not struck down by the court. She said students who had done plus one and plus two from Chandigarh and whose parents were Punjab Government employees and posted in the Union Territory were eligible for the 85 per cent quota whereas the posting of parents at Mohali had become a ‘curse’ for students. The place of posting was in the hands of the government and her share in the relevant quota had been snatched.

Ms Snimar also said last year the notification for the PPMET, 2003, seats under the 15 per cent quota for other states was available in government colleges. But while issuing the notification for this year’s test, the quota of 15 per cent seats for other states had been abolished but retained in private colleges under the management quota. The fees in private colleges was much higher.


Students threaten stir
Nuisance on public address system
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 20
In an unprecedented move, a section of students of the local Giani Zail Singh College of Engineering and Technology today threatened to boycott their classes if the authorities concerned failed to check the alleged nuisance by a section of the college’s former security guards, who have been holding a dharna outside its gate.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that a section of the students, who have written to the Principal, have demanded that either the nuisance be checked or they would boycott their classes. A section of the students today skipped and boycotted their classes in support of their demands. Some classes were interrupted today due to the nuisance being created on the public address system by those staging the dharna.

Dr P.K. Singla, Principal, sought help from the Deputy Commissioner and the district police chief to check the nuisance today.

After incidents of drug abuse, petty thefts and other lapses, the college authorities decided to change a section of the security guards. Sources said a section of the college students had been getting cough syrups, through them to get a kick. Such incidents had forced the college authorities to change the security guards.

Sources revealed that while those security guards who had been relieved from their duty had been sitting on dharna outside the college campus, certain miscreants broke windowpanes of the Principal’s office late last night. The students also alleged that those who had been sitting on dharna since October 19 had been creating hindrances in the movement of their kin during their visit to the college campus.

Dr Bansal, when contacted, said he had instructed all the heads of departments to hold their classes by closing the doors of their classrooms to minimise the nuisance. He said come what may, the classes would be held regularly.


29 middle schools may face closure
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 20
In the light of the Punjab Government’s reported move to close down the government schools, having a strength of 50 or less than 50 students, 29 government middle schools, of the total 189 middle schools in Sangrur district, may face closure.

Sources said the education authorities at the district headquarters had not received any letter yet regarding the collection of data related to the number of students in various schools. However, the top authorities were conveying the message on telephone to the officers at the district headquarters, they added.

As per the information, these 29 schools fall in all six subdivisions, of the district: Sangrur, Dhuri, Malerkotla, Sunam, Barnala and Moonak.

Some schools in the district have even seven teachers for less than 40 students.

In middle school of Kudni village (Moonak), four teachers were imparting education to just five students, while in Maanawala village (Dhuri) seven teachers were teaching just 24 students. In another case of excess teachers as compared to the strength of students, only 39 students were getting education from six teachers in the middle school of Rattakherra village (Sangrur).

The names of 29 villages, whose middle schools have been reportedly identified for having less than 50 students in Sangrur district are: Rattakherra, Kudni, Kala Jharr, Ladal, Bugra, Roopaherri, Khanal Khurad, Sehke, Jattua, Maanawala, Mallia, Dhano, Manal, Dallanwal, Naraingarh, Shergarh Cheema, Daulatpur, Gehlan, Mallumajra, Dhandholi Kalan, Beeka Such Handhiaya, Kotra Amru, SUS Sunam, Chatha Gobindpura, Harigarh, Bhaathuan, Kalia, Hussainpur and Bhamabaddi.


College teachers go on mass leave; hold protest
Our Correspondent

Doraha, October 20
In response to a call given by the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union (PCCTU), nearly 6,000 teachers working in private affiliated colleges of Punjab and Chandigarh proceeded on mass casual leave and held a rally at Matka Chowk on Tuesday.

The union was supported by the Principals’ Federation of Non-Government Colleges of Punjab and Chandigarh and the Union of Non-Teaching Employees.

In a joint statement, Prof Parminder Singh, area secretary, Punjab University, Chandigarh, Prof S.S. Hundal, president, PCCTU, Prof R.S. Brar, co-president, Dr Jagwant Singh, general secretary, Prof H.S. Walia, vice-president, Dr Jaswant Singh, finance secretary and executive members, including Prof Kuldeep Singh, Prof Baldeep Singh, Prof Kuldeep Batta and Prof Vinay Sofat expressed their resentment against the present government, especially against the Minister for Higher Education.

The resentment was against the minister for his alleged failure to release the salary bills amounting to Rs 33 crore, in spite of repeated reminders and regular meetings. They also said that till date no college had received any letter regarding the merger of 50 per cent DA in the basic pay.


Engineering students call off strike
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 20
Students of the Institute of Engineering and Technology, Bhaddal, today called off their strike after an assurance by the college principal that their problems would be solved soon as he had discussed the matter with the Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Technical University.

The students said that the principal informed them in this morning that he had taken up the matter with the Vice-Chancellor and the university would soon issue a notification in this regard.

The students said they had not received any notification and they would wait till tomorrow. If their demands were not met, they would again go on strike.

When contacted, the chairman of the college, Ms Kulwinder Kaur, said that the students called off the strike and they attended the classes. She said that the matter was taken up with the PTU VC and all the students’ problems would be taken with care.


Govt to make JCT, Mollins profitable ventures
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 20
With a view to giving boost to Mohali industries, the Punjab Government today decided to make further efforts to make JCT Electronics Limited and Mollins profitable ventures. A decision to this effect was taken at a high-level empowered committee meeting here today. The Chief Secretary, Mr Jai Singh Gill, chaired the meeting.

Sources said the committee decided to provide the companies with certain relief measures under its rehabilitation scheme. The JCT, a flagship company of the Thapar group, which had been lying locked for nearly three years was revived in August following the signing of an MoU between the company’s representatives and members of the JCT Employees Union.

The 200-crore unit established in 1986 had pioneered the production of colour picture tubes in India. It was set up in technical collaboration with Hitachi but went off production in 2001.

But now that the repair and maintenance work in the unit had started, the government has decided to extend some relief measures which would help start operations at the company.

The majority of the employees of the company would get back their jobs as the company is slated to start production by October 31.

The committee also took up the case of Mollins and decided to offer relief to make it a viable organisation. Certain measures to streamline its functioning were also discussed taking into account legal considerations, it was learnt.

Among others who attended the meeting were the Principal Secretary, Industries and Commerce, Mr S.C. Aggrawal, who is also the secretary of this committee, the Principal Secretary, Finance, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal.

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