C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

70-yr-old widow found murdered
Circumstantial evidence hints at rape, robbery
Tribune News Service

Sarla Rani Anand
Sarla Rani Anand

Chandigarh, September 2
A 70-year-old widow, Sarla Rani Anand, was found murdered in her two-room tenement in Sector 15 here this evening.

The body of the victim, which had started to decay, was found lying naked on a double bed in the bedroom of the corner house. Incidentally, the house (No. 3446) is located adjacent to a busy road which goes towards the Sector 15-D market.

The Deputy Superintendent of Police, North, Mr S.S. Randhawa, said it appeared that the widow had been done to death late last night as she was last seen at 8 pm by her neighbour. A case of murder has been registered at the Sector 11 police station.

Injuries were found on the neck and one of her arms. “Looking at circumstantial evidence, the possibility of robbery after the victim was apparently raped cannot be ruled out,” said a forensic expert accompanying the police team.

“The assailants had ransacked the house and escaped from the read courtyard after scaling the boundary wall. The front door was found locked from inside. Footprints were found on the rear wall of the house,” said one of the investigating officers.

The body was noticed late this evening after neighbours of the victim informed the police.

“I didn’t see the widow today. Normally, she used to come to our house and sit till 8 pm. When she didn’t turn up today, I knocked at her door. When she didn’t respond, my son called up the police,” said Ms Urmila, her neighbour.

Aged women in the locality, with whom she used to spend most of her time, told Chandigarh Tribune that she was a God-fearing woman. After her husband, the late Onkar Nath Anand, died 12 years ago, she used to live alone. “Her nephews had come recently to stay with her for a few days,” said Ms Urmila.

Mr Mohinder Singh, who lives in house No. 3445, said the victim often used to visit his daughter’s place in Mohali.

The police found enough evidence at the site to construe it as a rape and murder case. The police believes that the assailant(s) were known to the victim as leftover eatables were found from the spot. An empty jewellery box was found at the site, besides a registration document of the house.



Adviser lays stone for cement topping
No ordinary road, this
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 2
Mr Lalit Sharma, Adviser to the UT Administrator, today laid the foundation stone for topping of a cement concrete road between Sectors 31 and 32. This is the first road of its kind in the region.

An official press note said the total length of the road was 1.2 km, having four lanes of 3.5 metres each, at a cost of Rs 2.8 crores. The existing services beneath the surface have been shifted to prevent any damage to the road crust.

At least six 10-inch diametre ducts have been kept beneath the surface to meet any future requirements of service/infrastructure without damaging the road.

Streetlights have been planned in the central median, which is 0.9 metre wide. The streetlights will be modern and placed 30 metres apart. A storm water drainage has been provided on both sides of the road with road gullies at 60 ft apart for efficient drainage.

The life of the road is expected to be around 30 years against around five years of a bituminous road. The riding surface of the road will be better than the conventional type of road. It will reportedly be almost maintenance-free.

The Chandigarh Administration plans to construct cement concrete roads in the future as well. It plans to convert all junctions with cement concrete pavements.



Now, shell out more for city-Ambala travel
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 2
Commuting between Chandigarh and Ambala has become costlier. With government transport corporations increasing the bus fare from Rs 26 to Rs 30, commuters will have to shell out more for travel between the two cities.

The hike follows diversion of heavy vehicles, including buses, to longer routes in the wake of the closure of the Ghaggar bridge near Dera Bassi on August 14. The diversion of buses to the Zirakpur-Banur-Tepla road has led to vehicles covering about 15 km more, leading to the fare hike.

The National Highway Authority of India and GMR Private Limited had decided to close the bridge for heavy traffic following a technical snag. The bridge, which was built in the 1950s, has virtually outlived its utility and a parallel bridge is being constructed as part of the four-laning project of the Zirakpur-Ambala highway to be completed in November 2008.

Meanwhile, the hike has come in for severe criticism from daily commuters, who alleged that besides forcing them to spend more time in travel between the two cities, it had put a financial burden on them.



You can retain old numbers of vehicles
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 2
It is good news for those sentimental about the registration number of their vehicles. The Chandigarh Administration has issued a notification allowing them to retain old numbers of their vehicles even if they go for a new buy.

It is a known fact that many people are sentimental about the registration number of vehicles. The numbers could be based on religious faith like 786 or astrology like the number 7 or 1234 or related to birthdays or certain queer combinations.

Mr Krishna Mohan, Home Secretary, said: “The provision that earlier existed in this regard was overruled by the Deputy Commissioner in 1996. The matter has now been rectified.” When questioned about the status of old vehicles, Mr Krishna Mohan said “the owners will have to go in for new registration of old vehicles in case they wish to retain the old number for the new vehicle, which can be done here or at a place chosen by the new buyer”.

It was pointed out that the provision always existed but there remained some confusion with certain officials concerned. In any case, the matter of issuing numbers and the procedure lay with the Home Department and not the Deputy Commissioner, a senior official said. So the DC order stood cancelled.

The Chandigarh Motor Vehicles Rules, 1990, provides that the Deputy Commissioner may in special circumstances allow a person to retain the old registration number for his new vehicle or any other vehicle.

The Deputy Commissioner in July 1996 issued directions that “the registering authority cannot transfer registration number of an old vehicle registered under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939, to newly purchased vehicles. The newly purchased vehicles are to be issued numbers which are to be notified by the Centre”.

The Home Department had later said the old practice of allowing old numbers be continued. However, certain confusion existed because of which the Home Department had now notified that owners could retain their old numbers.



Higher liquor sales push up revenue in region
Chandigarh consumes 43,000 bottles of beer per day
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 2
The revenue from sales of liquor and beer in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh has risen exceptionally since the new licensing system was introduced on April 1 this year.

In Chandigarh, people have been virtually guzzling beer during the summer months and it could soon earn the sobriquet of being a ‘beer drinkers’ paradise’.

In Punjab, the revenue collection from liquor sales between April 1 and July 31 has been recorded at Rs 583.60 crore. This is about Rs 93 crore more than the revenue of the corresponding period last year.

In Haryana, the revenue collection for the same period stands at Rs 532 crore. This is an increase of Rs 86 crore over the corresponding period last year when the revenue was Rs 444 crore.

The highest increase in revenue on a percentage basis has been in Chandigarh where people have been virtually guzzling beer that was priced at no more than Rs 30 a bottle, down from the high of Rs 80-Rs 85 per bottle during the previous year.

The sale of beer has been a whopping 51.69 lakh bottles while last year, for the first four months of the financial year, the sale was only 11.32 lakh bottles. This is 356 per cent more than last year. Also, this works out to be a consumption of 12.92 lakh bottles a month or roughly 43,000 bottles a day.

Not only has it increased sales, it has also sent the revenue on an upswing. The revenue from beer sales alone during these four months has been 32 crore while it was just 45 lakhs in the corresponding period last year.

The sale of liquor in Chandigarh has also seen a quantum jump. The revenue has jumped to Rs 190 crore for the first four months of financial year. Last year, the revenue from liquor was Rs 56 crore during this period.

Welcoming the rise in revenue, Mr Pramod Krishna of the Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies, said the licencing system ensures a good quality product for the consumer at a competitive rate. It also meets the revenue demands of the states. Earlier, during the monopolistic regime, the consumer was at the mercy of the seller. Now brands of his choice are available.

It may be mentioned that the northern states have been among the last in the country to liberalise their excise policy.



Wind, rain bring chill

Chandigarh, September 2
It remained windy with frequent spells of rain today. As the weather systems remained congenial for the second day in a row, the Meteorological Department recorded 5 mm of rain during the day.

The weather was more than just pleasant. It was fairly cold, so much so that the people were forced to switch off fans. — TNS



Work on 1,855 dwelling units in Chandi Mandir this month
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

An isometric view of the proposed officers’ accommodation to come up at Chandi Mandir under the married accommodation project (MAP)
An isometric view of the proposed officers’ accommodation to come up at Chandi Mandir under the married accommodation project (MAP).

Chandigarh, September 2
To offset the acute shortage of accommodation for married personnel, the Army is constructing 1,855 dwelling units in Chandi Mandir and a couple of other nearby military stations.

The project, which begins this month, is scheduled to be completed by June 2008, sources revealed. After this, the waiting period for allotment of accommodation for Army personnel posted to Chandi Mandir would be negligible. At present, there is a 12-month waiting period for getting permanent accommodation, even for officers.

The project’s foundation stone would be laid by the General Officer-Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, Lt-Gen Daljeet Singh, next week.

While a majority of houses would be built at different locations in Chandi Mandir, some would be built in K-Area near Zirakpur and at N-Area near the Chandigarh Airport. Work at N-Area and K-Area has already commenced.

According to sources, the project would be undertaken in two phases and various categories of houses catering to different ranks would be built. The first phase would entail construction of 125 houses in the Major’s category, 32 units for JCOs and 1,019 units for other ranks.

In the second phase, 18 units in the Major’s category, 16 units in the Captain’s category and 645 units for other ranks would be built. The construction of officers’ accommodation in Chandi Mandir would be completed by December 2007.

The project is being executed under the Defence Ministry’s married accommodation project (MAP) under which two lakh dwelling units are to be constructed at 79 military stations at a cost of Rs 16,000 crore. The project covers all three services.

The vast majority of houses under the MAP would be for jawans.

In the Western Command area, 15 stations are to be covered. To streamline the execution of the project, Command MAP Committee has been set up in each command. Headed by the respective chiefs of staff, the committee has been delegated special financial powers.

The project at Chandi Mandir would be executed under the direct control of the Director-General, MAP, Army Headquarters, Lt-Gen Y.K. Jain, with supervision at the local level by Station Commander Brig P.S. Rathee and project manager Lt-Col Sanjoy Bhatia. Construction of houses under the MAP for Air Force personnel has also commenced in Chandigarh.



Need for girlchild-friendly society, says Bansal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 2
The Union Minister of State for Finance, Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, today emphasised on the need to counter female foeticide and promote girlchild-friendly society. He said women needed to assert themselves in order to counter the menace while adding that an effective legal order needed to be ensured for the protection of the girlchild.

He was speaking at the conclusion of a two-day regional workshop on “Promoting girlchild friendly society” at the Commonwealth Youth Programme — Asia, Sector 12, here today.

Mr Bansal said women had to be empowered through reservation in state Assemblies and Parliament so that they could participate in decision-making and provide a conducive atmosphere for growth and development of the girlchild.

He declared that he would join hands with like-minded people and non-government organisations like YUVSATTA to make Chandigarh a child-friendly city with proper delivery rooms, beautiful wards for the newborn and by ensuring their proper health, education and well-being.

“While we need to change the mindset of society, women and mothers need to be educated on raising their voice against foeticide. If the mother puts her foot down, nobody can dare to touch her or force an illegal abortion on her. First, it is the woman who has to learn to say no,” he said.

Taking a cue from Mr Bansal’s statement, Mr Parmod Sharma, Coordinator, YUVSATTA, announced that on October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, their NGO would honour parents of girls born during this one month.

Speaking on the occasion, a special guest from Belgaum, Mr R.M. Patil, former Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka and executive director, BIRDS (Belgaum Integrated Rural Development Scheme), reiterated the importance of undertaking development work for social and economic empowerment of women at the local level.

In the first half of the workshop, Mr R.M. Patil honoured Mr Krishan Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, Nawanshahr, for his work towards promoting the welfare of the girlchild.

Mr Krishan Kumar said the problem of female foeticide could be tackled at the district level, involving local resources and community workers, students, NGOs and medical practitioners. Pioneering work done under his supervision and direction was elaborated and discussed at the workshop.

In the end, Dr Dazy Zarabi, programme coordinator, Population and Development Education Cell, Regional Resource Centre, Panjab University, summed up the deliberations of the two-day workshop organised by Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti and YUVSATTA in commemoration of 100 years of the birth of Gandhiji’s Satyagraha with the words ‘‘Be the change you wish to see in the world’’.



Lalru incident turns political
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Dera Bassi, September 2
The infamous Lalru incident, in which the police allegedly brutalised residents, has turned into a political football between the ruling Congress and the Opposition Shiromani Akali Dal(SAD) ahead of the February 2007 Punjab Assembly elections.

Two senior functionaries of the Congress and the SAD claim credit for the release of 11 accused in the Lalru incident, virtually setting the ball rolling for the elections to the Banur Assembly.

While former Finance Minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh has termed the release as “SAD victory”, Mr Deepinder Singh Dhillon, Vice-Chairman of the Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation (PSIDC), claims that it were his efforts which helped the accused to be released on bail.

“The release of the 11 persons by the court again proves that 276 persons were “falsely implicated” by the police, Capt Kanwaljit Singh says, adding that it was the SAD lawyer, Mr Satnam Singh Kler, who was instrumental in getting the accused released.

“In fact, the release of the accused is a slap on the face of the Congress regime, which miserably failed to tackle the situation arising out of August 11 incident,” he says.

However, Mr Dhillon, who accompanied the released persons from the Patiala jail to Lalru, claims that a panel of advocates —Mr Sumesh Jain, Mr Naresh Rana and Mr Balbir Singh — fought the case leading to their release by a Patiala court.

“In fact, I had been keeping a watch on the case and justice would be done to the alleged victims of the police brutality,” Mr Dhillon told Chandigarh Tribune.

Terming the SAD claim as “totally false”, he says no Akali leader was present in court when the youths were released.

It may be recalled that villagers protesting against the “bias” in power supply vis-a-vis industrial units were allegedly beaten up by the police on that August 11 night.



For the sake of the voiceless
Aditi Tandon
Tribune news Service

Mohan Lal
Mohan Lal

Chandigarh, September 2
Seated behind his desk at the local branch of a national bank, Mohan Lal Phillauria comes across as any other government officer pacing through his day.

“Saturdays are no more easy days. They are more hectic than you can ever imagine. In fact, they remind me of the grind I endured as a child,” says the unassuming man who has, through his writings over the past few years, changed the very face of Dalit literature in India.

From this very desk in his bank, he has carried home many an inspiration for his stories – be it the torment of a low-caste girl woven to perfection in “Pagalkhana” or the anguish of a self-made Dalit officer, shunned by his colleagues as a “Quota-wallah”.

“The concept of equality is a farce. There is nothing called parity of castes. Discrimination is very much alive. Only its form has changed. As a child, I was bonded into labour to high-caste Jats who would exploit me for their ends. Today I am a slave to the warped notion of caste equality, which mocks at me from every corner,” says the writer, whose anthology of short stories “Mochi da Beta” has recently been translated into Hindi.

As the title suggests, “Mochi ka Beta” trails the lives of cobblers, whose generations are condemned to abject poverty. The story evokes deepest concerns about those who are scorned at just because they were born to low-caste parents and had no power to either choose or change their destinies.

“The story is in the form of a narrative that runs from one space to another, painting vivid pictures of caste inequality. The principal character is the cobbler whose age and setting keep changing as the story moves,” Phillauria says. The most overwhelming account is one of a 16-something shoeshine boy, who is forced to resort to violence to earn his dues. He kills his high-caste client who refuses to pay Rs 2 – the meagre cost of the poor boy’s labour.

The anthology has many such accounts that take birth in the soil of writer’s own suffering. Born to Dalit parents, he fought tremendous odds to reach the position of a senior bank manager. But no matter how well-heeled he became, he could never rid himself of the label “quota-qwallah”. “In my long career, I have been transferred to many places. But my image has always traveled faster than me. I have experienced alienation at countless occasions and endured disdain at several others. In fact, the chasm between high and low castes has only grown deeper with time. Only now the form of discrimination is more sophisticated than brazen.”

It is this anomaly which comes alive in each of the 30 short stories Mohan Lal Phillauria has penned in his lifetime. Inspired by dalit writers like Sharan Kumar Limble, Daya Pawar and Om Prakash Valmiki, Phillauria brings a fresh perspective to the caste debate.

Being among the few writers who have served in government establishments, he has been able to say his thing with greater conviction and aggression. No wonder his works put together true life experiences of diverse nature – from those of a child born to Dalit parents to those of an officer enduring discrimination.

Now Phillauria’s stories, including “Mochi ka Beta”, are being made into plays and telefilms. Ask him what inspires him and he says, “I am trying to lend a voice to countless Dalits who still subsist on the fringes of society, unable to break free of the trammels of caste.” Not just that, he is also inspiring the Dalits to “rise, unite and fight”— something Dr B.R. Ambedkar preached years ago.

Ironically, the slogan still remains relevant.



Satpal Maharaj stresses communal harmony
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 2
As part of the two-day Sadbhavna Sammelan, Satpal Maharaj delivered a discourse at Exhibition Grounds in Sector 34 today. The event, organised by the local branch of the Manav Utthan Seva Samiti, witnessed the attendance of thousands of devotees, who turned up despite rains.

Earlier, Satpal Maharaj inaugurated the newly constructed ashram by samiti in Sector 40-B in the presence of a gathering of devotees and samiti officials.

Speaking on the occasion, Satpal Maharaj said the sammelan was the need of the hour. He stressed the need for liberating society of evils like jealousy, terror and hatred. Such programmes, he said, helped in bringing people together and fostering unity and goodwill.

He said the samiti had 7,000 branches worldwide. Its objective was to spread spiritual and philosophical knowledge, fighting superstition and inequality. As for Satpal Maharaj, he hails from Pauri Garhwal. He was born into a farmers' family in Kankhal, Hardwar, and grew up to start the samiti movement.

At the event today, Bhole Maharaj presented bhajans. The occasion was attended by local MP Pawan Bansal, Mr B.B. Bahl, president, Chandigarh Congress Committee, Ms Shyama Negi, Senior Vice-Mayor, besides other officials of the samiti. Discourses were presented by Mata Shri Amrita Ji, Mata Shri Mangla Ji, Shri Vibhuti Ji and others. Mahatma Harisantoshanand managed the programme.



Meeting on Yuva Shakti Abhiyan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 2
A high-profile meeting of Core Group for implementation of the Panchayati Raj Yuva Shakti Abhiyan in Punjab was held at the Commonwealth Youth Programme, Asia Centre. The meeting was organised by the Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, in association with the CYP and the Department of Youth Services Sports, Punjab.

At this meeting, the opening session was chaired by Mr R.K Mishra, Regional Director, CYP, Asia Centre, and the concluding session was chaired by Mr Sailesh Joint Secretary, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. Mr Sailesh stressed on women empowerment, including problems of female foeticide and gender discrimination.

Mr R.P.S Pawar, Principal Secretary, Youth and Sports, and Mr Hussan Lal, Director Panchayati Raj, were also present. Mr Hussan Lal discussed core issues related to Panchayati Raj,Youth empowerment and drugs problems among the young.

Mr R.K. Ratho, Director Youth Affairs, gave details about Panchayati Raj Yuva Shakti Abhiyan in Punjab. Dr C.S. Pran, Director Programme, NYKS, laid emphasis on empowerment of Panchayati Raj institutions and close ties of youth clubs with village panchayats.



Subsidy cheques distributed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 2
Mr Avtar Henry, Industries and Commerce and Environment Minister, Punjab, yesterday distributed margin money subsidy cheques worth Rs 1.5 crore to the beneficiaries, who have set up village industries in the state and have generated employment opportunities, at a function organised at Punjab Bhavan here. It was organised by the Punjab Khadi and Village Industries Board.

Mr B.C. Gupta, Principal Secretary, Home, Punjab, and Mr S.C. Agrawal, Principal Secretary, Industries and Commerce , were the guests of honour.

Mr Charanjit Singh Walia, while presiding over the function, stated that continuing its endeavour to maintain transparency and curb corruption in the disbursement of subsidy, the board had been organising cheque-distribution functions.



Pimp, three call girls held
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, September 2
Three girls, allegedly involved in a call girl racket, and their pimp, Gian Chand, a resident of Maloya village, were arrested late last night by the police near the HUDA nursery.

Produced in the district court, all four admitted to their involvement in the racket. While Gian Chand was remanded to police custody for four days, the girls were sent to judicial remand.

Police sources said they operated from a flat in Society Number 1 of Mansa Devi Complex. Three girls, two residents of Ludhiana, and one from Mani Majra, said they were introduced to the flesh trade by Gian Chand.

The pimp, caught once before in 1996, said he was divorced and was staying with his keep in Ludhiana. Stating that one of the girls caught was the keep’s daughter, he said he earned Rs 15,000 after paying the girls. The police said they had been on the lookout for this pimp for the past many years.

On receiving information, the police sent a decoy customer who struck a deal with the pimp for Rs 4,000. Lat at night, the pimp along with the girls, reached the decided site. As soon as the transaction took place, the police swooped down on them.

A case was registered.



Woman raped
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 2
A 20-year- old married woman was allegedly raped by two persons - Ramesh and Ramchand - while her husband was away to work in Mohali. According to information received here, the incident occurred at Ramesh’s place after he called her up on some pretext.

The incident came to light after the woman complaint to her husband last night. On the basis of the statement of the victim, a case of rape has been registered at the Sector 34 police station.



School head dies in mishap
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, September 2
Ms Archana Khanna, (40), principal of Sunny Public School, Dhakoli, Zirakpur, died on the spot when a truck hit her scooter from the rear.

The accident occurred on the National Highway-22 near Sector 20, Panchkula at 2.30 pm. The driver has absconded.



UBI’s new deposit scheme
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 2
With a view to augmenting resources, the Union Bank of India today launched a new deposit scheme — Union Cash Certificate.

Launching the scheme, Mr S.C. Sinha and Mr V.K. Dhingra, both General Managers, said the scheme offered an 8% rate of interest in a maturity period of three to four years. The scheme would be open for two months beginning September 1.

Mr Sinha said the bank expected a deposit of Rs 3,500 crore in the two-month period. Of the total deposits, an amount of Rs 130 crore was expected to be netted in the Chandigarh zone comprising Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana.



MP lauds banks’ role in economic development
Tribune News Service

Shed “mai-baap” attitude

Living up to his reputation of calling a spade a spade, Mr Pawan Bansal urged the public sector banks to shed the “mai-baap” attitude and wake up to the reality of working in a liberalised economy for customer satisfaction.

Chandigarh, September 2
Appreciating the role of nationalised banks in overall economic development, Mr Pawan Bansal,Union Minister of State for Finance, said here today that the challenge before the banks was to sustain the present credit growth rate of 32 per cent.

“The Government wants banks to consolidate but the initiative has to come from boards of directors of the banks as the government can only be a facilitator,” he said while addressing a conference on “Banking on growth.” The conference was organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Mr Sanjay Bhatia,vice-president, PHDCCI, said to make the domestic industry globally competitive, funds should be made available to it at international rates.

Mr S.C. Gupta, Chairman and Managing Director of the Punjab National Bank, said maximisation of national economic development necessitated the strategic use of bank finance as a public policy tool and a commercial medium. The flow of credit to the industry increased to 28.6 per cent during 2005-06 as compared with 19.8 per cent in the previous year.

Mr Satish Girhotra, chairman, Banking and Financial Services Committee of the PHDCCI said the competitiveness of the Indian industry was impacted due to the lack of timely and adequate availability of funds at affordable rates. This also acted as a hindrance in the expansion and growth plans of industries.

Summing up the discussion, Mr Ashok Khanna, former president of the PHDCCI, said commercial banks and financial institutions that provided working capital and term finance to corporate borrowers generally demanded personal guarantee from borrowers besides collaterals. He said it could be desired only in case where the margin was not sufficient and the finances were being made available for more than the security of the assets pledged or hypothecated by the borrower.

Mr Amarjit Goyal, Chairman of the Punjab Committee of the PHDCCI, proposed a vote of thanks.

Meanwhile, the Chandigarh Industrial Fastners Association has expressed concern over the banks in the Punjab region not achieving target under the Prime Minister’s Rozgar Yojana.

In a representation to the minister, the association demanded a liberal package for the sick units to revive these.



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