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Tuesday, 30 October 2012

From Today's Papers - 30 Oct 2012
5 states defy NHRC orders to compensate victims’ kin
Aditi Tandon/TNS

New Delhi, October 29
In a disturbing development, states have started dishonouring recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission in cases of fake encounter deaths.

At least five states have in the recent past refused to grant compensation that the NHRC had ordered to be paid to the next of kin of fake encounter victims.

While the Maharashtra Government declined to honour one such recommendation on the ground that “such payment would demoralise the police force”, the Andhra Pradesh Government refused to follow the commission’s recommendation in three cases. The NHRC inquiry had concluded that the encounter of alleged Naxals was fake in those cases. It had ordered a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the family of victims. The Andhra Pradesh Government did not offer any reason for not making the payment.

Similar decisions have been taken by the governments of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh in separate cases of fake encounter deaths which the NHRC was mandated to look into to determine genuineness of the police claims.

The trend is growing at a time when the cases of encounter deaths are rising across India, as reflected by the data maintained by the NHRC. As per the NHRC mandate, the police of every state has to mandatorily intimate to the commission of every encounter death within 48 hours of its occurrence. The commission, under the National Human Rights Act, 1993, is empowered to inquire into every such death to see if the encounter was genuine.

Besides intimation of encounters by the police, paramilitary forces and Army personnel, private individuals also have the right to file encounter complaints with the NHRC which it investigates as mandated by the law.

Since its inception in 1993, the NHRC has received 2,068 encounter cases through intimation alone. Maximum (1,996) cases involve police, followed by 49 involving defence forces and 23 involving paramilitary forces.

Among states, UP leads the pack with 948 cases; followed by 229 in Assam, 124 in Maharashtra, 120 in Andhra Pradesh, 54 in Madhya Pradesh and 50 in Rajasthan. States with higher encounter death rates (like UP, Maharashtra and Andhra) are also the states increasingly refusing to implement NHRC recommendations on fake encounters.

Through private individuals, the commission has received another 1,796 cases of fake encounters, a whopping 1,697 involving allegations against the police. Together, the cases total to 3,864.

The commission is naturally worried about the growing trend of states’ refusal to take its recommendations seriously, said member Justice BC Patel (retd). In an order on Andhra Pradesh’s refusal to compensate wards of three Naxals killed in fake encounters recently, the commission had said, “We have received these letters with some surprise and considerable regret. Since we make recommendations that are not binding on states, we can’t do much once the CMs decline them. However, we always give substantive reasons for our recommendations and hope that when a state disagrees it will also explain why our view was wrong. In these three cases, we have been given no reason whatsoever. The conclusion that follows is that the state has given carte blanche to its security forces and a mandate to execute with impunity anyone believed to be an extremist.”
Chopper deal held in abeyance following bribe allegations
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 29
The Defence Ministry today decided to hold in abeyance its decision to buy 197 light utility helicopters for the Indian Army till the details of a Brigadier having allegedly sought a bribe from an Italian chopper maker were not clear.

Sources confirmed that the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Defence Minister AK Antony today did not take up the matter of deciding on the company that was selected for the chopper deal. Two companies, Eurocopter and the Russian Kamov, have been shortlisted and one of them is to be finalised.

Even as the Defence Ministry was about to finalise the deal, details have emerged from a court in Naples that a Brigadier who was involved in flight trials had sought a $5 million from AgustaWestland which was ousted from the competition after the trials. The ministry is also seeking details from Italy over its investigations in the VVIP chopper deal in the allegations of payments of kickbacks to secure the deal.

Today at the DAC, Antony cautioned the three Services to be “transparent” in the process of weapon trials and procurement as he cleared proposals worth around Rs 6,000 crore for the armed forces.

Antony’s message comes in the backdrop of latest bribery allegations in the proposed purchase of 197 choppers. “The Defence Minister asked the three Services that the trial process has to be fair and transparent manners especially when there is stiff competition among international contenders”, officials said here this evening.

The meeting also cleared proposals for purchase of search and rescue (SAR) equipment for IAF choppers at a cost of Rs 1,000 crore, 3,000 hand-held thermal imagers (HHTIs) for the Army at Rs 800 crore and a Cadet Training Ship for the Navy at Rs 480 crore, which will be built by private sector ABG Shipyard, they said.

The DAC, which is the top decision-making body of the Defence Ministry, also cleared an IAF proposal to procure two Dornier surveillance and transport aircraft from the HAL. The DAC cleared the construction of two Special Operations Vessels (SOVs) for the Marine Commandos of the Navy at a cost of Rs 1,700 crore The SOVs are like mini-submarines which can accommodate a small detachment of armed MARCOS commandos.
Chinese inroads into Bhutan worry India
The strategic scenario on India’s northern borders will get greatly compounded if Bhutan and Nepal were to fall into the Chinese sphere of influence. Bhutan’s neutrality is absolutely imperative as it forms a barrier and buffer to the Chinese desire for expansion towards the Siliguri plains
Brig (Dr) Arun Sahgal

Strategic concerns about China arise from its emergence as the most influential player in Asia with the ability to shape the future balance of power that could be detrimental to Indian interests.
A Chinese amphibious assault exercise on the Tibetan plateau. Increased military presence and rapid development of infrastructure in Tibet point towards Chinese attempts at upgradation of its operational posture
A Chinese amphibious assault exercise on the Tibetan plateau. Increased military presence and rapid development of infrastructure in Tibet point towards Chinese attempts at upgradation of its operational posture

Despite a dominant Indian desire at cooperation rather than competition with China, the vexed and unresolved boundary issue together with China’s continued military modernisation and incremental upgrade of its military posture in Tibet that enable rapid force deployment, backed by logistical capability and communication infrastructure, complicates the relationship.

China’s attempts at strategic balancing in South Asia by forging military and economic ties with all of India’s neighbours, some of whom have fractious ties with New Delhi, and by expanding its naval power in the Indian Ocean Region further exacerbate bilateral tensions.

Latest manifestation of this is the Chinese attempts to build inroads into Bhutan. Chinese Premier Wen Zia Bao and Bhutanese Prime Minister Jiome Thinley`s meeting on the sidelines of Rio +20 Summit was a result of Bhutan’s ambition for a non permanent seat in the UNSC in 2013, which China appears to have exploited.

Implications of Chinese moves

Chinese success in Bhutan together with moves in Nepal, where it is enhancing its economic, military and infrastructural footprints will have grave strategic implications for India. The landlocked Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has borders of 470 km with Tibet and 650 km with India. India has a special relationship with the Bhutan having signed a Treaty of Friendship way back in 1949, which was updated in 2007, that provides among others unilateral guarantee for the defence of Bhutan.

While China officially does not recognise Bhutan and has no diplomatic relations, it does conduct periodic talks to reduce border tensions. China claims 300 square miles of Bhutanese territory, mainly in the Chumbi valley, the Torsa Nala, and some areas opposite Haa (western Bhutan) along with some grazing areas in the north.

The strategic scenario on India’s northern borders will get greatly compounded if Bhutan and Nepal were to fall into the Chinese sphere of influence. Bhutan sit’s at the centre of the Sino-Indian eastern sector, and as long as it remains neutral, any Chinese military adventurism in the Chumbi valley and Tawang would largely be through attritional mountain offensives invoking Indian reaction in self defence.

However, if Bhutan and Nepal were to come under Chinese influence, the precarious land route along the Siliguri Corridor, a virtual ‘chicken neck’ for the north eastern states, would become vulnerable to being cut-off by a determined Chinese push – isolating the entire eastern sector. Hence Bhutan’s neutrality is extremely important and absolutely imperative as it forms a barrier and buffer to Chinese desires of expansion to the south towards the Siliguri plains.

Two other issues are important. China is rapidly developing road infrastructure opposite Chumbi Valley, including plans to extend the rail network from Lhasa to Zangmu and Shigatse, and possibly to Yadong at the opening of the Chumbi Valley. These developments point to Chinese attempts at upgradation of operational posture. What should be of concern to India is the fact that in the event of hostilities it is unlikely that China will respect Bhutanese neutrality.  The defence of Bhutan therefore is irrevocably linked to the defence of India.

Strategic perspective

An essential ingredient of the China’s forward policy, Chumbi Valley, a vital tri-junction between Bhutan, India and China, is significant as it is just five kms from the Siliguri corridor. It is also of geostrategic importance to China as it shares borders with Tibet and Sikkim.

It is this geo strategic context that has made New Delhi sit-up and take notice of recent Chinese overtures to Bhutan. China and Bhutan have held a range of boundary talks and are moving towards a joint field survey to harmonise the reference points and names of the disputed areas. The survey focused on disputed areas in the western region constituting pastoral lands of Doklam, Charithang, Sinchulumpa and Dramana.

The focus on this sector is important due to its close proximity to Chumbi Valley. Bhutan and Nepal are critical cards for China against perceived Indian military maneuvering. It needs to be underscored, however, that the China- Bhutan reconciliation can only come with the settlement of the boundary issue where China seeks the Dhoklan plateau overlooking Chumbi Valley while making tradeoffs in the grazing grounds in North Bhutan.

The moves in Bhutan together with rapid Chinese inroads into Nepal would greatly contribute towards China’s desire to establish a continental bridge through Tibet. Bhutan on the other hand would provide the PLA with the requisite launch pad to cut off the Siliguri Corridor either as pre emptive action or in concert with larger territorial designs. Trading off some territory in the north to Bhutan in lieu of the pastoral land of the Doklam plateau, therefore, appears to be a pragmatic step towards achieving the larger strategic objective.

Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka are countries where India has ceded strategic space to China through acts of omission and commission, land locking it from North and East. Restoration of diplomatic relations between China and Bhutan therefore would inevitably constitute a strategic shock for India.

India’s strategic calculations

Strategically, Bhutan sits between Sikkim in the West and Arunachal Pradesh in the East. It’s neutrality is an important construct in providing depth to the Chumbi Valley leading to Siliguri Corridor and Tawang -- the centre of Tibetan spiritual abode in India. Should Bhutan diplomatically ally with China, these two vulnerabilities would be greatly exposed with all the attendant military ramifications. Access to Chumbi Valley through Bhutan, in addition to the traditional routes would severe and isolate the north east in the event of a war with China. Simultaneously, Bhutan would open the western flank of Tawang--Tenga sector, exposing the threat to the plains of Assam.

Indian economic investments in Bhutan are exemplified by Bhutan becoming a hydropower exporter to India. By 2020, India expects Bhutan to export 10,000 MW of power to India. There are also a large number of other economic programmes afoot. India is considered a trusted friend and an ally in Bhutan. At present, there is no anti-India lobby in the country and, given the geographical imperatives of Bhutan, India is likely to remain the most important partner in its foreign policy calculus in the coming years. Bhutan also leverages India’s role as its strategic partner.

While geopolitics shapes the bilateral relationship in a major way, one needs to take note of the fact that Bhutanese society is changing fast. With the youth constituting almost 50 per cent of the total population, a new generation is emerging in Bhutan. As evident in the India--Bhutan power cooperation, Bhutan is getting increasingly assertive in negotiating various issues with India. India needs to address these growing nuances, which could soon emerge as visible sores in India--Bhutan bilateral relations.

In initiating diplomatic ties with China thus, Bhutan will have to make some stark strategic choices. Replacing India with China would mean economic and ecological trade-offs in a balancing strategy aimed at maintaining harmonious relations with its two big neighbours. the bigger issue is how far Bhutan is ready to become a pawn in the Chinese designs in Tibet and against India. The ultimate formula to settle the boundary dispute would dictate the extent of this engagement between the two.

Bhutan`s strategic choices are thus of great geostrategic and military concerns to India. How it makes them would depend on the range and depth of Indo--Bhutan relations. The above discourse need not only be seen from the perspective of geopolitics alone. Is China pushing reconciliation with Bhutan to convert it into a continental bridge linking with the Bay of Bengal, of course through connectivity with India to create another Silk Route? In this regard the recent resolution of boundary dispute between China and Tajikistan to create an access to Afghanistan in pursuit of its economic investments provides a possible window into Chinese designs. In case China is able to develop close political and economic ties with Bhutan and incrementally bring it into its circle of influence, it will be a win–win situation for China and a matter of grave concern for India.

The issue for India is that as a sovereign independent state Bhutan has the rights to pursue an independent foreign policy commensurate with its larger interests. While being closely aligned with India it has sought to pursue a policy of neutrality. Will the Chinese overtures change this? How should India respond what are the options and policy choices before it, is the dilemma that India needs to deal with.
China rebuilds defence ties with India
Visit by Chinese defence minister Gen Liang Guanglie, after a hiatus of eight years, comes at a time when bilateral relations are marked by growing economic and political cooperation and concerns over growing Chinese influence in South Asia and the extended Indian Ocean region (IOR).

The visit, weeks prior to the 18th National People’s Congress scheduled to be held in October, raises issues about both the timing and purpose of the visit. Was it a confidence building exercise or a mere performa interaction at the minimal to signify resumption of high level defence interaction? As the Chinese media highlighted, the visit was to build trust, by resumption of military dialogue, military exercises as also to promote exchanges in non traditional security fields such as maritime cooperation.

Going specifically by military-to-military contacts between the two countries a lot is happening. Two joint naval and counter-terrorism exercises ahv ebeen conducted, with discussions for a possible joint air exercise. The hiatus in bilateral ties came about when China, in an extremely provocative step, denied a visa to a senior Indian military officer and made provocative statements over the prime minister’s recent visit to Arunachal Pradesh. The ties have since recommenced. The Fourth China–India Defence Dialogue in New Delhi last year has been followed by senior level military exchanges and Indian and Chinese warships visiting each others’ ports.

The defence ministers discussed issues ranging from developments in Asia–Pacific, including South China Sea, wherein the Indian minster was familiarised on the Chinese approach to the standoff and its aspirations on conflict resolution. Apparently, the Chinese conveyed their growing concerns about US’ strategic shift to the region after a decade, with an eye on American attempts to make India the lynch pin of regional strategic engagement. The post—2014 situation in Af–Pak was reportedly discussed, particularly growing radicalism and terrorism, given Chinese concerns on developments in Xinjiang, where they are pushing hard to reduce links with Pakistan and improve economic links with Central Asia and Russia.

The exchanges point to disquiet within the Chinese establishment and strategic community about developments in Asia–Pacific and the post-2014 Af–Pak scenario. Concerned by the evolving geopolitical situation in Asia, and a possible standoff with the US, the Chinese seem to be trying their own rebalancing act to prevent India lodging itself in the US camp. Indian policy of strategic impendence and autonomy also appear to have convinced Chinese leadership that if handled properly, India can be wooed into a balancing act where a judicious mix of pragmatism and nationalism pushes Sino-Indian relations forward without compromising its core interests.

Signs of such a thinking appeared during the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting in Beijing, where Chinese vice premier Li Keqiang told Indian foreign minister SM Krishna that Sino–Indian ties would be the most important bilateral relationship in the 21st century. Chinese scholars also affirmed that while there were multiple stakeholders, it was China and India who would need to take the major lead to maintain regional stability.

The Chinese defence minister’s visit could be described as both, to affirm bilateral defence ties, lower stakes for confrontation as also to induce India from becoming a tool in US rebalancing strategy. Following the visit, it will be important to follow the trend lines of the trajectory of bilateral relations, for India to shape its policy responses. — A.S.
Dissolve Parliament now, say former Army chief VK Singh and Anna Hazare
Mumbai: Activist Anna Hazare has announced a new front against corruption, whose name will be disclosed before Diwali. The co-founder of his movement, the former chief of the Indian Army, VK Singh, said Parliament must be dissolved immediately and elections held because the government beset by graft and conjoined to big business, has stopped caring about the people.

"We need to awaken the the General and I will travel all over the country starting January 30," said Anna, who is 75.  He said that General Singh and he will not campaign in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, which vote in November and December. Anna said the structure of his front has yet to be finalised, but he plans to install a team in every state. For the general elections, he said, his team will assess candidates from different parties and advise voters on who to support.

"I will support his candidates if they are clean," Anna said today, when asked about his protege Arvind Kejriwal, whose decision to launch a political party ended their partnership. "If Arvind contests, I will support him," he added.
Targeting the Prime Minister, General Singh asked him why the government was "looting" people. "The opposition and the government have abandoned the people's interest," said the former chief, who retired at the end of May in a whorl of controversy over his allegations of being offered bribes while in office, and the government allegedly ignoring his complaints.

"As per the Constitution, India is a welfare state in which a democratically elected government is duty bound to protect and improve the lives of the people. However, the current system has completely ignored the directive principles enshrined in the constitution and has surrendered to market forces," General Singh said.

Till barely two months ago, Anna was the face of India Against Corruption, a conglomerate of civil society groups stewarded largely by Arvind Kejriwal.

For most of last year, Anna and Mr Kejriwal championed the cause of an anti-graft law or "Lokpal Bill" named after the national ombudsman that the legislation would create, when it is passed by parliament. It remains stalled in the Rajya Sabha, a delay which Anna and Mr Kejirwal attribute to the government's apathy in fighting venality.

When Mr Kejriwal announced that he would set up a political party, Anna balked.  The India Against Corruption movement was ripped asunder. Mr Kejriwal formally launched his party earlier this month; it has yet to be named.

Why doesn’t the Army name all Indian martyrs?

The recent public ceremony honouring the martyrs of the 1962 war, 50 years after the event, ought to prompt many more such acts. Indians deserve to know the names of all Indian armed forces and security forces personnel who have been killed or are missing presumed dead since independence.

The military high command holds the information. At the army, the information should be with the branch of the Adjutant General. But it’s a shame that these names are not publicly listed. It’s almost as if there is a negativity about honouring our war-dead.

Anit Mukherjee, an ex-Indian army officer, who is now an academic working in the field of military affairs, tried out find out the number of security force personnel killed in Jammu and Kashmir, he revealed during a talk he delivered last week at the King’s India Institute in London on ‘Absent Dialogue: The Crisis in Civil-Military Relations in India.’

In a paper published in India Review in 2009 he wrote the following:

“The costs of battling Pakistani-trained and, later, Pakistani militants have been borne mainly by the security forces. Since the outbreak of the Kashmiri insurgency in 1990, including casualties from the Kargil war, approximately 5,000 members of the Indian security forces have been killed. The majority of the deaths (over 65 percent) occurred after 1998, when insurgency in the valley shifted from indigenous roots to acquire its current pan-Islamic jihadi characteristics.”

He obtained the figure from data posted in Indian Home Ministry’s annual reports and it was corroborated by the Indian army’s website honouring its fallen soldiers. It used to be accessible via and But now the army webpage has been taken down.

According to him, both the Defence Ministry and the Army have refused to declassify documents pertaining to the 1962 war, let alone any relating to the more recent conflicts, such as the IPKF operation in Sri Lanka. In contrast, the British military not only names every fallen or wounded soldier in Afghanistan but these names are prominently published and broadcast by every major British media outlet.

This Indian reluctance, says Mukherjee in his Absent Dialogue paper, may be related to criticism about the armed forces’ perceived lack of preparedness.

“It also has deeper historical resonance – with the army outgunned in Sri Lanka in the late ’80s, Kashmiri militants possessing superior radio-sets vis-à-vis the Indian Army, whispers of Israeli technicians providing critical support to the air force during the Kargil war and armoured units being ‘blind’ at night during Operation Parakram in 2001-02. In fact, the Kargil Review Committee, the Group of Ministers report and numerous standing committees on defence allude to the lack of defence preparedness and its corollary, military effectiveness, both directly and indirectly.

“The capability of the armed forces also has consequences for the type of power India aspires to be.”

This is a matter that every Indian should be concerned about – because honouring a nation’s war-dead cannot and should not be the exclusive preserve of bureaucrats in the army or the ministry of defence. In a democracy, it is a people’s right.
Be transparent in deals, Antony tells service chiefs
TNN | Oct 30, 2012, 01.28AM IST
NEW DELHI: Defence minister A K Antony has cautioned the military top brass to ensure complete transparency in acquisition of military equipment in the wake of the controversy surrounding Italian military giant Finmeccanica and its deals in India.

Addressing the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), comprising military chiefs, the defence secretary and senior officials of the military establishment, Antony said there must be fairness in the selection process in all acquisitions by the military.

His caution came even as the DAC decided to wait for further inputs from Italy before taking up the proposal to purchase 197 light utility helicopters for the Indian Army. According to documents filed in an Italian court, an Army brigadier had sought a bribe of $5 million to fix the trial results of the contract.

The documents are part of an ongoing investigation in Italy into alleged malpractices by Finmeccanica, which is accused of paying a bribe of 51 million euros for getting the 2010 contract to supply a dozen VVIP helicopters to Indian Air Force.

The defence ministry has sought details of the case from the Indian embassy in Rome. Pending a formal report from the embassy, the DAC postponed a discussion on the proposed purchase of 197 LUHs, sources said.

The DAC, however, cleared defence deals worth about Rs 6,000 crore, including the one for procurement of 3,000 Light Support Vehicles (LSVs) for the Army at a cost of Rs 1,500 crore. It approved the purchase of Special Operations Vessels (SOVs) for Marine Commandos of the Navy at a cost of Rs 1,700 crore. The SOVs will be built at Hindustan Shipyard, sources said.

Monday's meeting also cleared proposals for purchase of Search and Rescue (SAR) equipment for IAF choppers at a cost of Rs 1,000 crore and 3,000 Hand-held Thermal Imagers (HHTIs) for the Army at Rs 800 crore.

The DAC also cleared the purchase of a Cadet Training Ship for the Navy at Rs 480 crore. It will be built by private sector ABG Shipyard.

An IAF proposal to procure two Dornier surveillance and transport aircraft from the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited was also cleared.
Indian World War II history republished
New Delhi, Oct 29 (IANS) Eight volumes of the Indian Army’s World War II history, which have been out of print for a long time, are being published here again.

When World War II began in 1939, the Indian Army’s strength was about 200,000 men. When it ended in August 1945, it became the largest volunteer army in history, rising to over 2.5 million men.

A series of 24 volumes describing the role of the Indian armed forces was published by the History Division of the defence ministry some 60 years ago.

Eight of these volumes, describing major operations by the Indian troops, have been out of stock for some time.

Re-published by Pentagon Press, these volumes will be released here Tuesday by Lt Gen (retd) J.F.R. Jacob at an event also attended by Arvind Gupta, director of the Indian Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA).

World War II cost the lives of over 36,000 Indian servicemen while 34,354 were wounded. Another 67,340 became prisoners of war.

The British awarded some 4,000 decorations to the Indian soldiers.
Former Indian army chief calls for dissolution of parliament
MUMBAI: Former army chief of India General VK Singh has called for the dissolution of the Indian parliament, alleging that the government was corrupt and “anti-people,” Express News reported.

Singh, who joined forces with anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare, was addressing a joint press conference in Mumbai on Monday.

Hazare said that together with Singh, they would travel across the country from January 30, in order to create awareness amongst the people of India about the government’s corruption.

The 75 year old activist was expected to launch an anti-graft team after severing ties with Arvind Kejriwal and India Against Corruption (IAC) over their decision to form a political party.

According to a Times of India report, Singh added that the government was “bending to the whims of the corporates,” questioning Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on why the government was “looting” the people.

The former army chief retired this year amidst controversy regarding his age, wherein he took the defense ministry to court in a failed attempt to prove he was a year younger than the army records showed.

Singh was also accused of writing to the prime minister expressing serious concerns about India’s defense capabilities, triggering allegations he was behind the leak.

He has since denied the allegations.
Army jawan commits suicide in Rajouri
Press Trust of India / Jammu October 29, 2012, 13:55

An Army jawan allegedly committed suicide by shooting himself with his service rifle along the Line of Control (LoC) in Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir.

Vijay Singh, a newly-recruited jawan, shot himself in Noushera forward belt of Rajouri district last evening, PRO, Defence, Col R K Palta said here today.

The Army has ordered a Court of Inquiry (CoI) into the incident to ascertain the reason behind the suicide, he said.
The 22-year-old jawan was taken by his colleagues to the hospital where he was declared brought dead.

Singh hailed from Faridabad in Haryana and the body is being shifted to his native place.

In another incident, a Special Police Official (SPO) Mohmmad Riyaz tried to consume poison at his residence in Darhal area of Rajouri district and was shifted to hospital for treatment last night.

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