P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Hansi-Butana Canal
Let’s oppose it jointly, Badal to Raje
Vishal Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 10
With the next apex court hearing on the Hansi-Butana issue round the corner, the Punjab government has got in touch with Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje to pose a unified challenge to the construction of the canal.

Badal is said to have asked Raje to send a battery of topnotch lawyers to New Delhi so that the case could be pleaded strongly and unitedly

Top government sources said Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal called up Raje yesterday to apprise her of the latest legal situation and the need to pose a common front.

Badal is said to have asked Raje to send a battery of topnotch lawyers to New Delhi so that the case could be pleaded strongly and unitedly.

The sources said the Rajasthan government was already of the opinion that if the Bhakra water was given to the canal then its own Nohar-Sidhmukh canal would be endangered. This Rajasthan canal irrigates more than 1 lakh hectares.

The sources said the Rajashtan government had sought and in all probability received necessary documents from Punjab and Haryana to prepare its case before the apex court.

The work on the Hansi-Butana link canal is 85 per cent complete and Rs 350 crore will be spent on its construction. The link canal starts from the Azimgarh area of Kaithal district and will go up to the Hansi-Butana branch canal.

In the said branch canal, water from Bhakra and the Yamuna will be added and finally taken to 17 districts of Haryana.


Chief Khalsa Diwan
Constitution to be amended
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 10
The constitution of 105-year-old Chief Khalsa Diwan, the oldest Sikh institution, is being amended after more than a century. It has been proposed to give unprecedented powers to its president in the amended constitution.

The draft, prepared by the constitution amendment committee of the diwan, formed in 2005, has been forwarded to all members concerned. Dr Gurdev Singh Girgla, convener of the committee, said during the deliberations of the committee, it was felt that the existing constitution had become totally obsolete.

The soul of the existing constitution is democratic whereas the proposed one has a lot of powers for its president. According to the draft constitution, a simple majority will be required in executive committee to remove a member. In such a case, the president will be enjoying the definite majority because out of 31, 23 members would be nominated by him. In such a situation, the powers of the honorary secretary would be curtailed to a great extent.

Former vice-chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University Harbhajan Singh Soch, who had resigned as convener of the committee, described the draft constitution as “an attempt to butcher the democratic spirit of the Sikh institution, which is older than the SAD and SGPC”.

He said he would write to the Jathedar of Akal Takht in that regard. He alleged that the proposed amendments were against the directives issued by the Jathedar of Akal Takht. The Jathedar had issued orders to the bodies concerned that the amendments in the constitution of the diwan would be first approved by its general house before sending it to the Takht.

Contrary to the provision of electing a president, vice-president, honorary secretary and resident secretary, the draft constitution proposes that only president and honorary secretary would be elected. All other office-bearers, including one finance secretary, four joint secretaries, would be nominated by the president. The strength of the existing 21-member executive committee is proposed to be increased to 31, out of which eight members would be elected by the branches of the diwan. The rest of the members would be nominated by the president.

In the existing constitution there is no provision for giving preference to children while enrolling members against vacancies. However, the draft constitution has such provision.

The preamble of the diwan constitution is allegedly being violated through the proposed amendments.


Centre seeks report on poll violence
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 10
Reacting to media reports on violence and alleged booth capturing during the civic elections in Punjab, the union ministry of home affairs has asked the Punjab government to submit a report on the law and order situation during the elections on August 8.

Officials in the government confirmed the development here tonight, saying the ministry normally sought a report whenever there was any major thing, like elections. Sources, meanwhile, confirmed that the ministry had particularly focused on the reported incidents of violence and the unprecedented scenes of alleged rigging.

Sources in New Delhi confirmed that law and order in any state was a serious issue and in case of Punjab, a border state and having a sensitive history, the ministry is extra careful.

Today’s development is also related to complaints of alleged high-handedness during the elections lodged by the leaders of the Punjab Congress.

According to the information, two senior leaders of the Congress rushed to New Delhi yesterday to brief Sonia Gandhi and also the union home minister Shivraj Patil on the alleged poll violence.

Meanwhile, leaders of the Congress and Left, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Shamsher Singh Dullo, Balwant Singh and Joginder Dayal, presented a memorandum to the Governor, saying that it seemed the election was contested by the police. The leaders have demanded that the elections be declared null and void and a re-election ordered. The leaders have asked the central government to dismiss the Badal government as the alleged vandalism and booth capturing has put Bihar and eastern UP to shame.

The memorandum said in some case up to 99 per cent of votes were cast in favour of the SAD, indicating booth capturing.


Rabies threat haunt villagers
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Ajnala, August 10
Residents of the twin villages of Inayatpura and Dayalbhatti, about 35 km from Amritsar, are living under a threat of suspected rabies. Most stray dogs are already turned carriers of the deadly disease passing it on to stray cattle in the area.

With the local administration turning a blind eye to the problem, the villagers took initiative and electrocuted 24 cattle, which were found infected with rabies by a local veterinarian.

Talking to The Tribune, Inderjit Singh, sarpanch of Inayatpura village, said stray dogs had been wrecking havoc in the villages for the last fortnight. The problem has now spread to cattle and most stray cows in the village were soon hitting their heads against the walls.

“The government veterinarian deputed in our village diagnosed that the rabies infection had spread from the stray dogs to the cattle and now even humans are at risk. The stray dogs are restlessly moving around the village like monsters, all set to bite anybody who comes in their way. The villagers have been keeping their children indoors and are themselves scared of venturing out in the dark ever since the problem started in the area,” he said.

“Most villagers cannot afford the costly anti-rabies vaccines for themselves and their milk-producing cattle. The matter was brought to the notice of the district administration but to no avail. It would not be wrong to apprehending a virtual rabies outbreak in the area,” he said.

More than 1,000 residents of the two villages today blocked traffic on the Ajnala road, demanding free anti-rabies shots and financial compensation to the owners of the 24 cattle, which had to be electrocuted to stop spread the infection.

“If the authorities do not act immediately, most residents in the two villages could soon be infected with rabies, for which there is no cure. The only solution is timely prevention by giving anti-rabies shots to humans and animals in the area,” said Rattan Singh Randhawa, a resident of the village.


Partial use of Kandi land allowed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 10
The Punjab forest department has agreed to allow partial use of 76,000 hectares of the agricultural land in the Kandi belt that have been locked under the controversial Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1900.

Sources in the Punjab government said the department had agreed to allow the use of land for agricultural and services allied to agriculture and even for homes or tubewells of farmers. However, the department was against allowing the use of the said land for commercial purposes, for carving out residential colonies, for resorts, hotels and other such purposes.

The department conveyed its opinion at a high-level meeting with chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh here today.

A final decision on the matter is yet to be taken on the matter, sources said this evening. Forest department officials said since they administered the PLPA, 1900, their opinion was required on the land.

The land spreads across the districts of Mohali, Ropar, Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur and forms part of sub-mountainous Kandi belt.

The Chief Minister gave his approval to the proposal and asked the chief secretary to convene a meeting of the local government, PUDA and forest department.


Cong left state poorer by 54,000 cr: Badal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 10
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today accused the previous Congress government of leaving the state poorer by a whopping deficit of Rs 54,000 crore.

The Chief Minister, accompanied by senior Akali leaders, including SAD’s PAC member Kuldip Singh Wadala and Punjab rural development minister Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, was addressing a gathering at Chak Kalan village, near Nakodar, on the occasion of the 69th anniversary of martyr Shahid Kartar Singh Babbar. He paid tributes to the martyr by garlanding his statue.

Taking a dig at the previous Congress government, Badal said: “The previous Congress government did not make any achievement except for registering false cases against innocent Akalis.”

About the atta-dal scheme, he said there was no shortage of funds for the implementation of the scheme.

“As far as the appointments of mayors are concerned, the SAD and its alliance partner BJP would decide it among themselves. People have given us their mandate and we would further strengthen their faith in us,” asserted the Chief Minister.

Lauding the role of freedom fighters, Badal said, “as high as 80 per cent of the martyrs of Independence struggle belonged to our state despite the fact that its population is not more than 2.5 per cent of the total population of the country.” He announced a grant of Rs 10 lakh for the village besides Rs 1 lakh for its sports club.

Ranjit Singh Brahmpura said the “misutilisation” of Rs 1,200 crore by the previous government under the garb of the “Nirman” scheme was being probed by the government.

Veteran SAD leader Kuldip Singh Wadala also spoke. Akali MLAs Sarbjit Makkar, Gurdip Singh Bhullar and Jagbir Singh Brar paid tributes to Shaheed Kartar Singh Babbar.


Independent for recounting
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 10
Bimal Arora, an Independent who fought elections from ward No. 50 against BJP district president Bakshi Ram Arora has sought recounting.

In a petition filed with district election officer-cum-deputy commissioner Bimal has pointed out many irregularities allegedly committed by the ruling party in connivance with the polling staff. In spite of repeated protests made to the electoral staff, no action was taken, he said.

Bimal alleged that the result was never shown to him or his election agent.


Seminar to dispel immigration myths
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 10
For Punjabis, ever desperate in search of an El Dorado, illegal immigration is a misnomer. In their mad scramble for the dollar-rich West, they resort to all means, fair or foul, which take them near their dream.

Be it soul-stirring episodes like the Malta boat tragedy or Punjabis languishing in European jails, nothing seems to deter the Punjabi foolhardiness. In this backdrop, voices of sanity are always necessary and deserve to be heard.

One such effort in dispelling immigration illusions and offering a valid, legal path to realise foreign dreams is being made by Italian Ambassador Antonio Armellini in association with Chandigarh-based lawyers Anil Malhotra and Ranjit Malhotra.

They are organising a seminar on August 11, titled ‘Destination Italy- The Right Way’, in which VFS Global Services Ltd is also a valuable partner.

Punjab Governor S.F. Rodrigues will be the special guest of honour. Eminent persons like Jasbir Singh Khangura,MLA, Prof Virendra Kumar, UGC emeritus fellow, and Gaurav Yadav, DIG, Punjab police, will also grace the occasion.

Stressing on the need for holding such a seminar, Anil Malhotra said according to an Interpol study project, India was one of the largest contributors of illegal immigrants to western Europe.

The seminar will be a brainstorming one with a panel of experts pondering over the pros and cons of illegal immigration and why it was being repeated with impunity, Malhotra said.

Illegal immigration trap laid by unscrupulous travel agents and the government’s efforts to tackle the meance would also form the highlight of the seminar, he added.

In fact, the United Nations was commissioning a study on the nature and extent of illegal immigration from Punjab to Europe, he said. The seminar would start at 3 pm and conclude at 5.40 pm.


Bridge fell due to illegal quarrying, say experts
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, August 10
Illegal quarrying on a massive scale on the riverbed and that too within the restricted limits was the main reason for the collapse of the Chakki bridge, said engineering experts from Himachal Pradesh and the Chandigarh-based regional office of the ministry of surface and transport, who visited the site today.

While talking to The Tribune, Himachal Pradesh chief engineer K.R. Singh claimed that the construction of a new bridge would begin soon after the rainy season was over and would be completed in two years.

He said four known construction companies have bid for the project after tenders were floated again. After the technical evaluation of the bids (for project above Rs 15 crore), the report would be sent to the ministry for final screening.

To a query about delay in construction of the new bridge, K.R. Singh said, “It took almost three years to acquire land for the proposed bridge as we had to approach 12 different departments to get no-objection certificates.”

Regional officer of the ministry A.K. Nagpal said the new bridge would be a “continuous structure’ with good riding quality. Since the technique was new so the lifespan of the bridge would be more. “To ease the commuters and light vehicles, we have been chalking out the possibility of a makeshift bridge on the collapsed portion of the bridge,” added Nagpal.


An NGO in service of rural women
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Dhindsa (Lehragaga), August 10
With a view to making women of some villages of this backward area financially strong, a Delhi-based NGO, Bisnouli Sarvodaya Gramodyog Sewa Sanstha, disbursed loans among members of its 11 self-help groups for dairy development at a function at Government Primary School here today. About 200 women from various villages, including Dhindsa, Bhutal Kalan, Ballran and Chottian, took part in this programme.

These loans were distributed by the sanstha among women for the establishment of micro-enterprises under the aegis of AMAR (Action for Micro-finance Approach and Rehabilitation), being run by Bisnouli sewa sanstha. As many as 22 members of 11 self-help groups were handed over cheques for Rs 10,000 each for purchasing buffaloes. The groups were from Dhindsa, Bhuttal Kalan, Ballran and Chottian villages.

Talking to The Tribune Nandita Bakshi, secretary of the sanstha, said their NGO had raised its own micro-finance fund to encourage small enterprises, especially destitute women from rural areas, with marketing support and training facilities. She said their organisation was giving loans without any mortgage or any guarantee to women of self-help groups.

Among others who addressed the gathering included president of the sanstha president Vijay Kumar Jha, project director of AMAR J.N. Rai and area in charge of Lehragaga Milkfed Satnam Singh Virk.


SGPC not to allow acquiring of land
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 10
Harbeant Singh, secretary of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandik Committee, in a press statement issued today said the Agriculture Department of Haryana would not be allowed to the acquire the land belonging to the Gurdwara Sri Guru Granth Sahib Mission, Shahpur, under the name of development.

Harbeant Singh was reacting to the notice issued by DRO, Ambala, regarding the acquiring of more than 33 acres land of the historic gurdwara. He said the building of the holy shrine contained a project of printing of Guru Granth Sahib.

He said there was a great resentment and protest amongst the Sikh sangat over this issue and they would not allow such activity. He urged Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to take up the matter with the Haryana government in this regard.


IMA asks DC to withdraw order
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 10
The IMA, Punjab branch, today urged the DC to withdraw the orders issued by him in which he had made it mandatory for pregnant women to submit their residential proof first before undergoing ultrasound test.

H.S. Bakshi, honorary secretary, IMA, Punjab, in a press note issued here, said the order would create more problems and hence should be withdrawn in the larger interest of people. He added that the PNDT cell in the office of deputy commissioner had no legal sanction to pass orders under the PNDT Act.

For giving the residential proof, pregnant women can use the voters’ list carrying their names or the photo identity cards issued by the Election Commission of India. In case of emergency, a doctor could carry out the test without the proof required. But in such cases the doctors concerned would have to give a certificate that the condition of submission of residential proof was not fulfilled as there was an emergency. If any doctor failed to do so, he or she would be liable for action.

Bakshi added that a doctor who would receive a patient in emergency situation and in absence of any documentary proof of residence, would simply refuse to attend the patient.


‘Spend money on amenities’
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 10
After getting fed up with poor sanitation, inadequate supply of drinking water, poor streetlight and faulty sewerage, the district leadership of the BJP has asked the commissioner, municipal corporation, to do what was needed so that basic amenities could be provided to the people at the earliest.

“Don’t waste public money on so-called development works in certain pockets of this town where the same is not required. Use the same money for providing drinking water, sewerage and roads in those pockets where required,” said Narinder Mittal, president, BJP, district urban unit, in a letter written to the commissioner, Bathinda MC.

Dharam Pal Gupta, commissioner, could not be contacted.


More Khalsa marches

Sangrur, August 10
During the sixth Khalsa march, organised today by the Khalsa Action Committee (KAC) from Cheema Mandi, near Sunam, to Mastuana Sahib, near Sangrur, in this district, convener of the committee Bhai Mohkam Singh lashed out at Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for “going slow” against the head of dera.

The committee announced two more marches on August 14 and 19 in the periphery of Ferozepur and Ludhiana, respectively. Meanwhile, the committee postponed its Panthic convention to mark Gurgaddi divas from August 14 to October 20. — TNS


Conjoined Twins Can’t be separated in India: Doctor
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, August 10
The female twins, with a common heart and liver, delivered by Sabri Begum yesterday are safe, but they cannot be separated through a surgery in India. This was stated by Dr Mandeep Kaur of Deep Hospital, Ludhiana, who has been attending upon twin’s mother, while talking to The Tribune today.

She said the twins had a common heart and liver, leaving very slim chances of their survival if operated upon for separation. Moreover, they can be separated by surgery abroad only, she added.

A local Muslim couple, during an ultrasound check-up at a centre, found that their unborn babies were conjoint. They approached their relatives at Ludhiana who took them to Deep Hospital.


Orthopaedic workshop opened
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 10
An orthopaedic workshop was inaugurated by State Bank of Patiala managing director A.C. Varma at Government Rajindra Hospital today.

Varma donated a cervical traction machine and a therapy machine on behalf of the Associate Banks’ Officers Association to the workshop.

Orthopaedic department head Dr Amarjit Singh Sidhu thanked association general secretary Amar Singh and the State Bank of Patiala for the gesture.

Amar Singh said the workshop would cater to the needs of poor orthopaedic patients who could not afford costly treatment at private hospitals.


4 killed in truck, bus collision
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 10
Four persons were killed and several injured as a private bus collided with a mini truck near Nagawan village on the outskirts of the district this evening.

The accident occured when a tyre of the truck busted. The driver lost control of the vehicle and it collided head on with the bus. The truck driver was killed on the spot. Three bus passengers died on way to hospital. SSP Nilab Kishore said at least 30 persons sustained injuries.

Thirteen passengers were admitted to the Fatehgarh Sahib civil hospital and some taken to Morinda and Bassi Pathana.

The truck driver was identified as Kashmir Chand.The bus from Nabha was going to Naina Devi. Most of the victims belonged to Nabha.


HC grants bail to Simranjit Mann
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 10
After spending three months in jail, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president, Simranjit Singh Mann, got regular bail from the Punjab and Haryana High Court today.

Justice Surya Kant granted him the relief following Mann’s counsel Ranjan Lakhanpal’s plea that he had been falsely implicated in a treason case and the facts of the event did not add up to the offence being made out against him.

“There were no independent eyewitnesses, no video or audio evidence to suggest that Khalistan slogans were raised.

This is because of vendetta politics pursued by the present Akali regime,” Lakhanpal submitted before the court.

No conditions, whatsoever, had been imposed on the petitioner, Lakhanpal informed. SAD (Jaffarwal) chief Wassan Singh Jaffarwal and 19 others (co-petitioners) also got the bail.

Importantly, another petition has been filed seeking quashing of FIR against the petitioner over which a notice for motion for August 21 has been issued.

Mann is facing sedition charges for allegedly desecrating the statue of late Congress Chief Minister Beant Singh by hanging placards of his assassin Dilawar Singh around it. The statue was located at the BMC chowk in Jalandhar.

He and 20 others, including a woman, were booked by the Jalandhar police under section 124-A IPC (treason) for the alleged act and raising pro-Khalistan slogans.

In custody since May 14, 2007, his custody was extended a number of times.

His judicial remand had been extended till August 13 by the chief judicial magistrate, Ludhiana, Virender Aggarwal. SAD (Jaffarwal) president W.S. Jaffarwal and 19 others too got extended judicial custody till August 13.

Mann had been consistently pleading that the case was false and even alleged alteration of FIR before magistrates before coming to the high court. He had also alleged torture and political vendetta.


Dimpa torture: SSP says he was not involved 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 10
The SSP, Gurdaspur, Lok Nath Angara, today placed an affidavit before the division Bench of Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Rajive Bhalla clarifying his position over the issue of alleged torture of Jasbir Singh Dimpa, former MLA from Beas.

The affidavit came following the high court’s suo motu notice, dated August 2, 2007, of various media reports alleging Dimpa’s torture in police custody. The court had made Lok Nath as one of the respondents in the case.

Angara pleaded in the affidavit that it seemed that notice had been issued to him inadvertently as neither he was named in the news items nor he was posted at Majitha (now Amristar rural) at the time of the alleged torture.

He stated that the respondent had relinquished the charge of the SSP, Majitha, on April 22 and joined as the SSP, Gurdaspur, on the same date only. On June 13, he was present at the district headquarters and attended the office, even performed field duties.

Angara claimed that on June 14 he was in Gurdaspur only and went with the Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, to attend a meeting with Master Mohan Lal, Transport Minister, and remained in Pathankot till night.

He also asserted that on June 15 Dimpa’s lawyer R.S. Tapiala filed an application before the judicial SDM, Baba Bakala, for initiating contempt proceedings against some police officials for not allowing Dimpa to meet his lawyer and also for torturing and injuring Dimpa in police custody.

In the said complaint also Angara claimed he was never named and thus the present petition, as far as his role was concerned, should be dismissed


Kin of farmers to get compensation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 10
At last there is a hope for the kin of the deceased farmers, who have committed suicide because of debt or other reasons related to farming in the past few years, to get some compensation from the Punjab government. Sources said the Revenue Department had forwarded a proposal to compensate the kin of the farmers of the state who had committed suicides.

Financial commissioner (Revenue) Romila Dubey today confirmed that the proposal in this regard had been sent to the Finance Department authorities concerned.

During its previous term, the SAD-BJP government had made a legal provision to provide compensation up to Rs 2 lakh per head to next of the kin of the farmers who had ended their lives under distress.


39 lawyers caught stealing power
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 10
Raids carried out by the enforcement wing of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) today yielded results when they caught 39 lawyers stealing power in different court complexes in the area.

Pawan Garg, executive engineer of the wing, while confirming the fact that 39 lawyers of Bathinda, Ferozepur and Muktsar districts were caught while stealing power, said information in this regard had been given to the distribution wing for further action.

He said 16 lawyers were found stealing power in Bathinda court complex, 17 Ferozepur court complex and six lawyers in Muktsar court complex. He said they had to stop the search when a section of lawyers tried to create a controversy over the detection of power theft by them.


Man kidnaps nephew to get back wife
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 10
A resident of Bhokra village of this district has kidnapped his nephew to get back his wife, who had left him about one and half month ago.

Jagsir Singh, a labourer, kidnapped his seven-year-old nephew Jaspreet Singh after he suspected that his elder brother Balbir Singh and his wife were behind the disappearance of his wife. After registration of a case at the Nahianwala police station, the police had been making efforts to trace Jagsir to rescue Jaspreet.

Police sources said Jagsir kidnapped Jaspreet on August 5 while he was playing near his house at Bhokra village. On August 6 Jagsir made a call to Balbir that if he (Balbir) wanted the safe return of his son, he should find out his wife first.

Gurtej Singh, ASI, who is investigating the matter, said Jagsir made this call from a place in Moga district.

However, Balbir and his wife had claimed that they were not involved in the disappearance of the wife of Jagsir.

Jagsir had also taken his eight-year-old son along with him.


War Against Drugs
Girl students hold rally
Tribune News Service

Ferozepur, August 10
Girl students from local schools and a college kicked off Independence Day celebrations by holding a rally against drug addiction on the Hussainiwala border, 8 km from here, today.

It was organised by general secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee Parminder Singh.

The rally commenced with the lighting of a torch at the memorial of martyrs Bhagat Singh, Raj Guru and Sukhdev. Students of the Dev Samaj College for Women, D.S Model School, S.D Senior Secondary School, H.M.D.A.V School, Manav Mandir Senior Secondary School and Manavta Public School participated in the rally.

Ruing rampant use of drugs in this border town, which has produced class soldiers and sportspersons, the PPCC general secretary said it was high time that politicians of the state kept aside their differences to save the youth from the clutches of drugs.

He claimed that the consumption of drugs was so widespread in this border district that armed and paramilitary forces did not find men fit for recruitment.

The rally culminated at Shaheed Udham Singh Chowk. President of the Sanatan Dharam Sabha, which runs several educational institutes in the town, Jatinder Mehra and principal of the women’s college Madhu Prashar also addressed the students.


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