C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Record charas haul in city
Israeli, Czech among 3 held, 155 kg seized
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
An Israeli, a Czech national and a man from Kulu, were arrested today along with 155 kg of charas. The seizure was made from a furniture export unit in Industrial Area, Phase I, here today. The contraband is estimated to be worth between Rs 15 and Rs 20 crore in the international market.

Israeli Lio Ben Moyal, kingpin of the racket, his Czech accomplice Andreevi Jiri and the Kulu man Narender Kumar Gupta were arrested from plot number 653 in Industrial Area, Phase I by a team of Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) team from the Chandigarh-based Zonal Directorate.

Narender Kumar Gupta had recently imported from Holland 12 boxes of wooden cavities to be hidden in walls of sofas. The alleged drug smugglers had taken the factory on rent a month back for making furniture and exporting it.

The box-like cavities, each of which could hide 1.8 kg of charas, were specially designed for the purpose and sent from Holland. To evade detection by an X-ray machine, carbon had been wrapped on the cavity boxes and they were hidden in the hollow walls of the sofas, NCB Zonal Director Shrikant Jadhav told reporters here today.

Mr Jadhav said they had got a tip off and the alleged drug smugglers had been under surveillance 24-hours a day for past two months.

The Israeli Lio has been arrested for the first time despite having been in the circuit for years.

Mr Jadhav said as per preliminary investigation, the origin of charas and hashish was Himachal which produced the best quality of charas in the world.

The drug smugglers had signed an agreement with the owner of the industrial unit saying they would make sofas to export to Europe.

The NCB has registered a case under Sections 8, 20, 29 and 60 of the NDPS Act. Earlier, the NCB had destroyed 2420 bighas of contraband crop.

Last year the Chandigarh Police seized 48 kg of contraband. Before this, 28 kg of contraband was seized by the Chandigarh Police. A large number of thefts had been attributed to drug addicts in the city.



PU scholarships for poor students go abegging
Neelam Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
The lukewarm response to the financial aid scholarships floated for the students annually by Panjab University continues during this session too, with less than 1 per cent of the over 6,000 students on the campus coming forward to stake their claim for the scholarships.

The low response is despite the move by the PU to offer financial assistance to those students who have been already getting the food subsidy aid at their respective hostels.

While the officials attribute the trend to the “affluence of the students’ parents, who actually do not require any aid,” the students say the scholarship amount and manner of its disbursement are a put off.

“Though we want more and more students to come forward and avail the need based scholarships, but, like several past years, not many have come forward this year,’’ says Assistant Registrar, Dean, Students Welfare Office, Mr C. Haridasan.

The data collected from PU has revealed that in all just 64 students from all the departments applied for need based scholarships, which are given to the students who have a monthly family income of Rs 10,000 or less.

Just 31 students from the 12 hostels in the university have applied for the food subsidy aid. The university officials did not have to tax their minds at all to select from among the applicants as given the low number of applicants, the request of not even a single applicant has been turned down.

The PU is giving out a one time payment of Rs 1,500 for the hostel subsidy and Rs 2,500 for the financial assistance for the students who can not afford to pay for the studies.

“We in fact have allowed the students availing the food subsidy to have the scholarships for financial assistance this year only. It means that there must be some students who are availing both the food subsidy aid and the financial assistance aid. But the numbers have not increased,’’ adds the official.

However, the students say the fact that they first have to pay the entire sum of the fee and charges in a session just like other students and then wait for the scholarship at the end of the session is not feasible.

“The scholarships aid is given at the end of the session, when the student has already paid the entire sum from his pocket. Why then should a student toil for applying for the scholarship?’’ argues a university student.

However the officials disagree. “This is an aid and if the student gets the lump sum amount at the end of the session, it would be more useful for him,’’ says Mr Haridasan.



116 meters sold to junk dealer
5 powermen booked
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
Five electricity department employees have been booked for allegedly selling 116 electricity meters to an Attawa-based junk dealer by kilos for just Rs 4,050. A team of Sector 36 police station has arrested the junk dealer Sant Ram and recovered the meters. The Electricity Department employees had not been arrested till the filing of the report.

The meters were transported to the junk dealer by Lineman Harinder Singh, Assistant Lineman Deep Raj and a department driver Mukhtiar Singh who took out the meters from the store in Sector 42 from the store in charge, Junior Engineer Balbir Singh.

Assistant Linemen Sohan Singh and Ajaib Singh have also been booked. The three had told the in charge that they had to collect tools for attending to a complaint.

The meters were put in sacks, loaded into a mini truck and transported to the junk dealer.

Station House Officer of the police station Jagbir Singh said it is to be found out if there have been more such thefts and who else was involved in the racket.

According to the police, the meters were sold by kilos and at a rate of Rs 30 per kg. The Electricity Department employees received Rs 4,050 from the junk dealer, who said he planned to sell them at the rate of Rs 40 per kg.

The police raided the offices and residences of the employees but could not arrest them as they had fled.

Mr Jagbir Singh said the police yesterday got a secret information that the meters had been stolen and sold in Attawa. Within 15 minutes, a police team reached the spot and raided the junk dealer.

The police team recovered 116 meters. To make sure that the meters had been stolen from a department store, the police called the Sub-Divisional Officer, Division Number 9, Mr Rajnish Garg, and two Junior Engineers Balbir Singh and Tarsem. The department officials revealed that the meters were in the Sector 42 store and they could have been identified by the number etched on them.

According to the police, the accused had made an entry in the log book for taking the mini-truck to attend to a fault. They took keys from Mr Balbir Singh on the same ground saying that they had to pick up tools for repair. The police has registered a case under Sections 380 and 411 of the IPC in Sector 36 police station.



Jawan gets life term in dowry death case
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 11
Additional District and Sessions Judge, J R Chohan today sentenced an army jawan to life imprisonment in a case of dowry death. Sanjay Babu Lal, was accused of having immolated his wife in a fit of rage in July 2002. He was found guilty of immolating his wife, Bhavna, when she wanted her husband to return the money he had taken from her father as loan.

The victim was residing with her husband in Chandimandir cantonment area.

They were married in 2000. She died on July 5, 2002. Subsequently, Sanjay Babu Lal was booked under Section 498 A and 304 B of the IPC. 



Dream of Indo-Pak buses between Punjabs may be realised soon
Nirupama Dutt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
The dream of Indo-Pak buses connecting the two Punjabs should become a reality in the near future, as talks to work out the technicalities involved would begin in April. Revealing this in an interview in the city today Munawar Saeed Bhatti, Deputy High Commissioner, Pakistan Embassy in India, said, "The proposal is to start two buses from Amritsar to Lahore and Amritsar to Nankana Sahib would certainly bring the two Punjabs closer. 

As of now people have to go all the way from Amritsar and other cities of east Punjab to Delhi and then catch a bus to Lahore. The timeframe has not yet been decided but these buses would greatly facilitate the people from two Punjabs."

Mr Bhatti who is himself a Punjabi, hailing from a village in Sialkot, said that Punjabis were very emotional about one another on both sides of the border. "We have tried to streamline the visa procedures and are specially making visas easy for senior citizens who wish to go across the borders to see their native places. This is so because in case of many Punjabis in their seventies and eighties the most cherished wish is to revisit the place of their origin at least one in their life times, " said Mr Bhatti. He added that the hurdles in obtaining a visa on either side were there because the demand was far more than the supply. "However, in Delhi we have evolved a system to attend to everyone whoever comes for a visa that very day. Whether they are given or refused a visa is another matter."

Mr Bhatti expressed joy at the fact that the relations between the two countries had improved substantially and at least they were in a position now to sit across the table and sort out the contentious matters. Mr Bhatti who did his schooling in Sialkot and then graduation from Government College, Lahore, recalled: "My best friend through school and college was a Sialkotia Hindu, called Om Prakash. A few Hindu families in villages around Sialkot had chosen not to migrate." However, he and many of his contemporaries had never seen a Sikh. "When we were at college in Lahore in the late sixties, one day someone brought the news that some Sikhs were seen in Anarkali Bazaar. Our whole class bunked and went to there to see them, " he said, adding that such was the curiosity about one another.

Charismatic Bhatti, who is considered as an India expert in the Pakistan Foreign Service, was in town today to attend the inauguration of the Centre For the Two Punjabs. Earlier, he released an anthology of fiction by Pakistani women writers.



The next war will be against poverty, says Pak writer
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
Claiming that the border between India and Pakistan was not a barrier but a portal of ideas, writer from Pakistan Dr Fakir Syed Aijazuddin today said the countries would soon be fighting a mutual war against poverty and prejudice. Dr Aijazuddin is also the Chief Executive of Lahore School of Accountancy.

Addressing a gathering after the inauguration of “Two Punjabs Centre” at the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID), he said people had all along been expressing apprehensions about the breaking of a war between the two countries.

“Yes, there will be a war, but both the countries will be fighting it together. This time, it will be against ignorance and poverty....,” he asserted. “There will be unprecedented challenges and hurdles, but we will be crossing them not with a sense of apprehension, but confidence.” Punjab Governor-cum-UT Administrator Gen S.F. Rodrigues was also present at the occasion. In fact he unveiled the foundation stone of the centre.

Giving details of the centre for two Punjabs of India and Pakistan, former High Commissioner to Malaysia and Ambassador to Sweden Paramjit S. Sahai said the centre was being structured as an independent entity.

It would be guided by a six-member steering board drawn equally from India and Pakistan.

Mr Sahai added that additional experts would be co-opted on a need basis. The centre would be funded through independent sources and would generate awareness through cultural diplomacy, besides establishment of linkages between academic and professional institutions.

Joint research in mutually identified areas like agriculture and health would be undertaken.Back


Ruling theatre from a wheelchair
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 10
Meeting Divya Arora is lust for life itself. Perched comfortably on her wheelchair, Divya, who suffers from cerebral palsy since birth, is a perfect example of how the mind can win over any physical limitation and express itself in all its myriad possibilities.

“The drive to carry on comes from experiences that life teaches. While some of us choose to remain indifferent to innumerable stimuli hitting us, others get destroyed, and some confront them with full force and emerge victorious, celebrating the process of change”, she says.

In the city to direct and act in American Playwright Neil Simon’s romantic comedy ‘Barefoot in the park’, Divya is the most remembered alumni of lady Sri Ram College New Delhi and calls herself the voice of the 70 million diabled in India who “remain unheard unseen and unrepresented”

Having worked in the film Shiva ka insaaf when she was five, Divya lived with her uncle in UK for many years for her therapy. She returned to India to her parenst in Delhi only to find herself admitted with the spastic society. “I hated it there. All my life I had been dealt with like an equal and told that I was like the others But here I was taught that I was different and needed specialized enviornmnet to breath in. No I protested. Candle making and textile printing is not for me. I will study further,” decided Diyva after her matric. She was admitted to Lady Sriram College and since then she has never looked back. The college gave me my life back. It took the college two months to adjust to me but once that was done, I did whatever I wanted to do.”

That is when her romance with theatre also began. “Romance is the word, specially when I have brought a romantic comedy to the city just four days before Valentine’s day,”she smiles.

The motto of my life is the same as the name of the first play I did in college called ‘Ability in disability’. Winner of the lifetime ‘Indomitable Courage’ award along with various accolades in diverse extra curricular activities, theatre remains her undying passion for Divya.

“My mission in life became to prove at every step that the disabled were equal counterparts of every human society, but were socially forced to be marginalised due to the lack of sensitivity caused by mammoth indifference in the attitudes of the ‘able’. This was the result of the lack of awareness regarding the issue of disability and the disabled ... thus proving that physical disabilities are more social disabilities.

Today, she is a theatre director, actor and the only one in India to be in a real challenging condition — performing on a wheelchair

Divya has received various citations and awards in the field of theatre. She has 20 successful theatrical shows/endeavors behind her, comprising 18 successful theatrical directorial ventures in New Delhi, associated with the sensitive, social issue of disability awareness, indirectly redefining theatre as being ‘Theatre for a purpose and give entertainment a deeper meaning’. Most of her successful shows have been at the India Habitat Centre, India International Center and others outside the national capital, in Goa at the Goa Marriott Resort. She is currently writing a film script for Gargi Sen’s next release.,

Though young in age in comparison to the other theatre directors, yet she competes on parallel parameters in terms of quality, innovation, creativity and presentation of each of her theatrical productions, without any compromise in any aspect. Moreover, Divya gives a deeper meaning to theatre.

“Prove it if you can, feel for the cause, show your human spirit” commands the young zealous, spirited and refusing to give up Divya Arora. The optimistic, confident, committed and self-reliant girl that Divya is, she affirms that “Today while walking on the long path of life, I see myself as not a disabled, but an able human being who has achieved a lot and is yet aspiring for greater realms of success and consciousness.”



Passing Thru

Manjit Virdi
Manjit Virdi CEO Punjabi Akashvani Radio, Canada

How do you view the reach of radio in India compared to that of in Canada?

With the radio becoming a part of the Internet revolution, its reach is no longer confined to a small area. My radio ‘Punjabi Akashvani’ can be heard 24 hours a day. Every Indian in Canada has a radio in his car and listens to it while commuting, but in India radio listening is now getting confined to the ‘rehriwalhas’, ‘dhabas’, etc.

What is the impact of privatisation on broadcasting?

With privatisation over the past three decades, quality of programmes in Canada has improved. But on the contrary liberalisation has had the opposite impact in India. The quality of some radio and TV programmes is simply shocking.

Why did call your radio station ‘Akashvani’?

In 1977 I started the first Punjabi radio station in Canada to fill the void of listening to Akashvani back home, so naming my radio station as “Punjabi Akashvani” was a logical choice. This also linked many Punjabis in Canada with my radio instantly.

What brings you to Chandigarh?

It’s a personal cum professional visit. I am looking for fresh ideas for my Punjabi programmes. Since we serve the Indo-Canadian communities in British Columbia.

— Naveen S. Garewal



Experts dwell on poverty, population growth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
The three-day 27th Conference of the Indian Association for the Study of Population (IASP) began here in Panjab University to deliberate on “Poverty, Reproductive and Child Health, and Population Stabilisation”.

Nearly 150 delegates from various parts of the country are participating in the conference.

The conference began with a welcome address by Prof K.C. Kaistha, Department of Sociology of the university.

The IASP president, Prof. S.C. Gulati, delivered the presidential address and highlighted the relation between poverty and population stabilisation.

In his address on “Population Policies and Programmes since International Conference on Population and Development-1994”, he suggested a definite relation between alleviation of poverty and improvement in the quality of life and stabilisation of population growth.

He cited the example of Kerala where high literacy rate coupled with better quality of life had resulted in the stabilisation of population growth.

He also said there was a direct relationship between development and preference for a son, which was leading to “missing girls”.

“Though it may be due to some bad social evils or customs, it is important to find out why rural development leads to female infanticide/foeticide,” said Prof Gulati.

Highlighting the achievements of family planning whereby 250 million births had been averted, he said the state should strengthen the family planning programme.

Well-documented field reports often remained on the shelves of the bureaucracy and were never paid any serious attention to the policy prescriptions detailed therein, he opined.

The PU Vice-Chancellor, Prof K.N. Pathak, in his inaugural address expressed his doubt over India’s ability to delimit population to 1.6 billion by year 2045. The reason was selective population policy of the government and lack of respect for the judicial morality.

Prof K. Sriniwas, member, organising committee of the conference, stressed the improvement in maternal healthcare, childcare and said the elimination of poverty had a direct bearing on the stabilisation of the population.

Even social factors such as gender equality and improvement of quality of life were important inputs in order to achieving population stabilisation, he said.



Protesters block road over labourer’s death
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 10
Hundreds of villagers in the Pinjore-Morni area blocked the Chandimandir-Burj Kotian road for almost an hour this morning. They were protesting against the death of a labourer during the cave-in of a quarry in Ghaggar river on January 20, and non-payment of compensation to the victim’s family.

The villagers began the roadblock around 10.30 am, near the bridge on Burj Kotian. They alleged that though Geeta Ram employed at a quarry in Jallah village had died on January 20, while he was working in a 20- feet deep illegal quarry, no compensation had been paid to his family.

The protesters are employed as labourers in stone quarries in Ghaggar. They alleged that the mining contractors in Ghaggar were flouting all rules in order to mine more and more River Bed Material.

“As a result three persons have died in the cave-in of quarries during the past fortnight. A quarry can be dug upto a depth of 10 feet only, but the mining contractors are digging to a depth of 30-40 feet,” said Kamaldeen, a resident of Ambala Kotian village.

Bhola, a resident of Burj Kotian, said though no earthmover can be used to mine in the river bed; the contractors are using the machines in all quarries. “They are making crores of rupees each month and flouting all labour security and labour laws. We had also met the Deputy Commissioner on this issue on Tuesday, but nothing has been done for us,” he said.

The irate labourers and villagers raised slogans against the mining contractors. Hundreds of trucks that were headed for the quarries and to the crusher zone were stranded, leading to a traffic chaos.

A large police contingent led by DSP Uday Shankar and the SDM, Kalka, Mr Devinder Kaushik, rushed to the spot.

The officials talked to the protesters and representatives of mining contractors to chalk out a solution.

The latter agreed to pay a compensation of Rs 3 lakh to the victim’s family, which resulted in the blockade being lifted. 



Boutique worker beaten up by two
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 10
A girl working in a boutique in Sector 70, here, was allegedly beaten up by another resident of the area and a retired Army officer last evening. Mrs Jaswinder Kaur, who runs the boutique, alleged that her customer, Mrs Reshamjit Kaur, along with a retired Army Officer, living in Phase X, assaulted the girl, Manju. 

Both of them allegedly pulled her by the hair and was also given blows in her stomach. She said she was not at home when the incident took place. On reaching home, she took Manju to the Civil Hospital.

Mrs Jaswinder Kaur alleged that Reshamjit Kaur had told her that her husband (Reshamjit Kaur’s) was dealing in getting work permits for foreign countries.

Mrs Jaswinder Kaur said since she was interested in going to Malaysia, she gave Rs 80,000 to Reshamjit Kaur about six months back help her in this regard.

But as the time passed she realised that nothing was being done to get her a work permit for Malaysia.

She said she started asking her to return the money. But Reshamjit Kaur did not return the money.

Mrs Jaswinder Kaur alleged that yesterday when Manju went to find out whether Reshamjit Kaur was at home, the army officer was sitting at her residence.

They both allegedly followed her and later beat her up. Mrs Jaswinder Kaur alleged that another worker of the boutique, who tried to run away after seeing the plight of Manju was also followed. She was allegedly beaten up near Phase VII.

When contacted, Mrs Reshamjit Kaur said she would not like to say any thing as her husband was not at home.

The police has recorded the statement of Manju and is investigating the matter. The police said action would be taken after recording the statements of some more persons.



Need to strengthen agriculture sector stressed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
A two-day national seminar on “Indian Agriculture at the Crossroads: Economic, Social and Political Dimensions” organised by the Department of Geography, Panjab University, Chandigarh, was inaugurated here today. Prof K.N. Pathak, Vice-Chancellor of the university, delivered the inaugural address.

Delivering his keynote address, Prof S.S. Johl, Vice-Chariman, Punjab State Planning Board, elaborated on the factors that have been ailing the agriculture of Punjab.

The factors included the fact that more than 70 per cent of the irrigation water requirement of rice crop in the state was met through tube-wells and the water table in central Punjab was receding at an average rate of over 42 cm per annum.

He said more than 10 per cent of the centrifugal pumps in central Punjab had become dysfunctional and in some places underground water had shown selenium and other toxic contents.

“Compound growth rate of rice yield has declined during the past 10 years and burning of paddy stubbles in October and November leads to serious problems of smoke pollution, breathing,” said Prof Johl.

Prof Gurdev Singh Gosal expressed his concern over uninspiring performance of agriculture in the country and in the areas of Green Revolution.

Level and quality of consumption of food needed to be studied in detail, he said.

He highlighted the importance of sustainable agricultural practices, strengthening research in agriculture, diversification of crops and detailed soil surveys.

Dr Dhian Kaur, chairperson of the department and convener of the seminar, welcomed the chief guests and delegates of the function.

Prof K.D. Sharma, coordinator, SAP at the Department of Geography, introduced the theme of the seminar.

Technical session I of the seminar started with Prof L.S. Bhat in the Chair. Three research papers were presented in the session.

Prof H.S. Mehta spoke on “Political economy of Indian agricultural development”, Dr L.S. Gill of Punjabi University, Patiala, spoke on “Towards a strategy for rural industrialisation in Punjab” and Dr R.S. Ghuman talked about “Punjab agriculture in the national and global context”. 



Sector 68 residents seek better civic amenities
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 10
The Residents Welfare Association of Sector 68 here has demanded the provision of proper civic amenities by PUDA in the area. The association general secretary complained that roads, especially V 3 and V 4, had not been metalled and vehicular movement on these was difficult. The situation worsened during the rainy season.

The association said PUDA has also not allotted sites for shops in the area and residents had to depend on the Phase IX market for their needs.

In the complaint, it said the sewerage was blocked at certain points and no place had been earmarked for the dumping of garbage. Besides, water pipes leaked at a few places.

The sector also lacked a community centre, a hospital and a dispensary. Residents also faced difficulties due to the absence of a public transport system. In addition, residents faced problems due to poor streetlighting and maintenance of parks.

The association further complained that residents faced disruptions in power supply as there was only one feeder for Sectors 66, 67 and 68. Power outage also hit the water supply, it complained.

The association also called for a review of the decision to impose fines by PUDA in case of small building violations such as three foot extension of the balcony.

The rules relating to approval of buildings, plinth, demarcation, etc. should also be amended to ensure that the applicants concerned obtained the approval or deficiency report within three days, it added.



Four-yr-girl found in Mansa Devi
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, February 10
A 4-year-old girl, Anju, was found wardering in Mata Mansa Devi temple this evening. The girl was reportedly accompanying her brother to the temple, who left her alone there.

Some slum dwellers adjacent to the Patiala Temple in the Mata Mansa Devi temple complex noticed the girl crying in the afternoon. They later took her to the Mansa Devi police post.

The police said that Anju was unable to give details about her home address.

The girl recalled her father’s name as Onkar and mother’s Sunita. Anju was later sent along the jhugi dwellers for night stay.

A scooterist Rajiv Kumar, a resident of Sector 2, here sustained injuries after an Amry truck hit his scooter on the Kalka-Ambala highway near Sector 2, here today.

According to the police, the scooterist was admitted to the General Hospital, here. The police has registered a case.



Make Nanavati report public: BJP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
Mr Satya Pal Jain, national convener of Legal Cell of the BJP, today demanded that the Nanavati Commission report into 1984 riots, submitted to the Union Home Minister yesterday, be made public.

Mr Jain alleged that the central government might try to hush-up the report in view of the involvement of certain Congress leaders riots in Delhi and other parts of the country. The UPA Government made the interim report on the Godhara carnage public even before it was submitted to the government, he said.

Mr Jain demanded release of the report would go a long way in taking action against the culprits involved in the riots.



Police seeks CFSL help in MMS clip case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
The Chandigarh Police today moved cautiously in the case of circulation of a pornographic MMS, which apparently features a local woman. The police today approached the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) to seek its help in the investigation.

The police may try to verify whether the man and woman are actually featuring in the act or had the MMS been created with the aid of multi-media using pictures of the couple.

The police is also trying to find out an independent witness who can recognise the woman and the man.

In the opinion of professional photographers, the clip seems to have been shot by a third person with a camera and not with a mobile phone.



BEL equipment from city on display at Aero India
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
The city’s unit of Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) has put its newly developed secure defence communication equipment on display at the Aero India-2005, the country's largest air show.

A lightweight hand-held trans-receiver (walkie-talkie) and a tactical radio, which can be carried by man as well as installed in vehicles, have been put on display at a BEL stall at the show.

According to a statement issued here today, the BEL has displayed a huge range of products at the show, many of which have good export potential.

These include communication equipment, command and control systems, radar, sonar, opto-electronic equipment, electronic warfare systems, simulators as well as gun upgrades.

The BEL, which has nine units across the country, is also providing communications and logistics support for the show.Back

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