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Friday, 25 January 2013

From Today's Papers - 25 Jan 2013
AFSPA comment: Committee went beyond its brief
Arun Joshi/TNS

Jammu, January 24
Justice JS Verma panel, tasked with suggesting ways and means to punish the guilty of rape, has overstepped its mandate and sparked off another controversy over the continuance of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in conflict zones, like Jammu and Kashmir.

In the first instance, AFSPA doesn’t provide cover to the men in uniform found guilty of committing rapes. There have been several instances in which the men in uniform, particularly those from the Army, have been punished for human right violations, including rapes. It is also true that there are serious allegations of fake encounters and forced disappearances against the security forces, but there hardly is any instance of rape that has gone unpunished.

Many point out that the gang-rape of women in Kunonposhpora in 1991 requires full investigation. In this case, the civil administration is as much guilty as the Army, they say. The case was not properly investigated into, and the village in northwest Kashmir has been living with a stigma for the past 22 years.

The panel has failed to draw any line between the false charges and the actual incidents. It has painted all men in uniform, who enjoy immunity under AFSPA, with the same brush. It is a known fact that certain things do go wrong in conflict zones, and it happens in Jammu and Kashmir, too.

But to say: “There is an imminent need to review the continuance of the AFSPA and AFSPA-like legal protocols in internal conflict areas as soon as possible,” for “this is necessary for determining the propriety of resorting to this legislation in the area(s) concerned” is going too far. It will give a boost to all those who have been after the Army in Jammu and Kashmir and want AFSPA scrapped, sources say.

According to records with the Army, there were more than 1,400 complaints of excesses and all of these were investigated into or are still under investigation. The Army has punished 104 of its men, some of them held guilty of rape, including a Major. They were dismissed from the service and also sentenced to rigorous imprisonment ranging from seven to 10 years.

Since 2008, there has not been a single case of rape charge against any of the soldiers posted in Jammu and Kashmir. The last one was in 2007, in which two Army personnel were dismissed from the service and awarded rigorous imprisonment of 10 years.

Contrast it with the alleged gang rape of Rukiya Bano of Gujjar Dhar in Kulgam area in July 2011 in which she had alleged that she was criminally assaulted by six to seven soldiers. However, a detailed investigation showed nothing had happened and the charge was false.

“Such charges are part of the misinformation campaign launched against the security forces,” an Army officer told The Tribune.

Those having knowledge about AFSPA know that it grants immunity to the security forces only in cases of excesses and killings taking place during counter-insurgency operations.

As it is happening in the case of three soldiers who staged a fake encounter in Machail in north Kashmir and killed three civilians, passing them as terrorists who had come from across the Line of Control. The Army has not cooperated in the case of killing of four young boys who were playing cricket in a village in Kupwara and the matter is hanging fire since 2004. The judge who was appointed to look into the matter has since retired.

There are several other charges of murders, forced disappearances and tortures against the security forces, where AFSPA is becoming a mountain-sized hurdle in punishing the guilty under the law of the land.


There is an imminent need to review the continuance of AFSPA and AFSPA-like legal protocols in internal conflict areas as soon as possible.


    AFSPA doesn’t provide cover to the men in uniform found guilty of committing rapes
    The Army has punished 104 of its men, some of them held guilty of rape, including a Major
    Since 2008, there has not been a single case of rape charge against any of the soldiers posted in Jammu and Kashmir.
    However, there are cases of murder, forced disappearances and torture against the security forces, where AFSPA is becoming a hurdle in punishing the guilty
90-yr-old World War veteran challenges denial of benefits
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, January 24
In the prime of his youth, he faced enemy bullets while serving overseas during the Second World War, but in the twilight of his life, a 90-year-old veteran is engaged in a vastly different battle. He is seeking benefits for injuries sustained by world war veterans in battle on foreign soil decades ago.

Sowar Amar Singh, a Bhiwani resident who is just a little over a decade short of turning 100, has challenged the denial of war injury pension to World War II veterans. The Chandigarh Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has issued a notice to the government on a petition filed by him. Amar Singh had served with the King George V’s Own 8th Light Cavalry and was injured by a grenade blast during an overseas campaign with the erstwhile British Indian Army.

In his petition he has questioned whether the government could deny war injury pension and allied benefits to personnel injured during World War II on the pretext that they were fighting for the British forces and not for the Indian government.

In 1972, the government had introduced the War Injury Pay (later renamed War Injury Pension) for those who were disabled in battle or military operations, and the Liberalised Special Family Pension (later renamed Liberalised Family Pension) for families of those who were killed in action. However, the benefits were made applicable only to the casualties of post-Independence operations or wars fought after 1947-48.

The petitioner has contended that the concept of war injury pay/pension was faulty since India and Pakistan on independence had assured to take over the claims of benefits of World War II veterans who had served with the British Indian Army. He has claimed that depriving the veterans of the benefits of war injury pension was also flawed since the Second World War was a war for humanity against the Nazi and fascist forces and was not a war for or against a particular nation.

Significantly, civilian employees injured even in pre-Independence international wars became eligible for war injury pension with effect from January 1, 1996.

The case

    Sowar Amar Singh had served with King George V’s Own 8th Light Cavalry and was injured in a grenade blast during an overseas campaign with the erstwhile British Indian Army
    In his petition, he has questioned whether the government could deny war injury pension and allied benefits to personnel injured during World War II on the pretext that they were fighting for the British forces and not for the Indian government
Nuclear sub Arihant headed for sea trials
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, January 24
Indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant (destroyer of enemies) is all set for sea trials in the coming weeks. Its pressurised water reactor is slated to go “critical” allowing the 6,000-tonne undersea platform to complete its last stage of testing called “sea trails” that includes operating the vessel in all possible scenarios, its mandated depth, its sonars and radars. This will include testing of on board missiles and weapons, including nuclear-tipped ones.

If everything goes on track, sea trails of the Arihant could commence anytime within four weeks to eight weeks from now. The miniaturisation of the reactor was a challenge that has been overcome.

Sea trails had to be delayed a few times due to technical reasons. On December 3, Naval Chief Admiral DK Joshi said harbour acceptance trials for the under-development vessel had been completed. “We expect to have good news for the nation very soon,” he had added.

Arihant, launched in July 2009 at Visakhapatnam, is first of the series of three ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) that India proposes to build at a cost of Rs 30,000 crore.

Induction of Arihant into the fleet would complete the crucial third leg of India’s nuclear triad-the ability to fire nuclear weapons from land, air and sea. Sea trials of Arihant will be globally watched even as India will enter the exclusive club of nations that have the capacity to build nuclear-powered submarines. Only the US, Russia, the UK, France and China have the technology, at present.

Though India is still building a nuclear-powder submarine-considered to be a very complex technology-its Navy has a fully integrated Akula class nuclear submarine, the INS Chakra, leased from Russia for 10 years.

New Delhi has already announced that the INS Arihant will go on deterrent patrol aimed at providing the ability of a retaliatory “second strike” in case of a nuclear attack. The submarine will carry its full load of nuclear-tipped missiles that can be launched from under the sea.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has already announced that it has successfully developed nuclear-tipped submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). The project was a closely guarded secret at the development stage and was called the “Sagarika Project” or by its code name the K-15. This has been tested several times using a pressurised canister submerged under water to mimic a submarine-style launch. So far, countries like the US, Russia, France, China and the UK have the capability to launch a submarine-based ballistic missile.
Missiles, rockets, bombs used to cover up nuke test preparations: Kalam

A P J Abdul KalamNew Delhi, January 24
India had launched a series of missiles, rockets and dropped experimental bombs to divert attention of "snoopers" before conducting the 1998 nuclear tests, APJ Abdul Kalam, considered the father of India's missile programmee, said today.

These well-planned measures were taken to "divert the attention of snoopers" two days before the nuclear tests in Pokhran in the summer of 1998, the former President said.

Delivering the 7th R N Kao Memorial Lecture organised here by the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), Kalam went down the memory lane about the anxious days before the nuclear tests during which the DRDO and his team worked over-time to make the tests successful in utter secrecy.

"An important event was to take place the next day. Multiple agencies were in action. The next two nights were dark nights with no moon light. The other side, the world was sleeping. At the Chandipur flight test range, a series of 12 Trishuls were launched. Almost every two hours one launch.

"At the Island range at stealth launch pad, a simulated Agni launch preparations were going on in high intensity. In Pokharan ranges, away from the action point, a number of rockets, PINAKA type, were put into action. At mid-day and evening, Air Force aircraft was bombarding with runway destruction bombs on experimental runways," he said.

The next day, Kalam said, India woke up to the news that three nuclear tests had been conducted on the same day and another two the next day.

"No one knew about it except three souls and their classified team...the whole event I described can be classified as more than a Black Swan," he said.

Kalam also said it was the then Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao who had asked him to make preparations for nuclear tests, just two days before the results of the 1996 General Election were to be announced.

But the elections went against Rao and the Prime Minister called Kalam and asked him to brief Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Prime Minister-designate so that a "smooth takeover" of such a very important programme can take place.

"This incident reveals the maturity and professional excellence of a patriotic statesman who believed that the nation is bigger than the politicial significance," Kalam said. — PTI
Myths about India-Pakistan relations
The very ideology of Pakistan, based on religion and the direction it has pushed itself by promoting Islamic radicalism, is not conducive to democracy. Pakistan is its own enemy of democracy. India's hard or soft stand against Pakistan has no role in this respect
Baladas Ghoshal

Myths abound when it comes to India-Pakistan relations. None of them stand to reason or for that matter conform to the ground realities in Pakistan. One of the most fallacious of all those myths is that if India remains soft toward Islamabad and relentlessly pursues the peace process, despite all provocations, lack of progress on the terror front and bleeding India slowly in Jammu and Kashmir, New Delhi can strengthen the hands of the democratic forces in Pakistan and eventually contribute to the growth of democracy in that country.

For one thing, history has no example of any country pursuing policies that have contributed to democracy in another country. Wherever democracy has taken root, the impulses and desire for representative government have always come from within, and not from outside. Inspiration, however, can come from outside. Even Aung San Suu Kyi, one of the greatest icons of democracy, realized it despite her earlier belief that the Western sanctions could bring change in Myanmar. At the first instance of her visit to the United States she declared that the democratic development in the country has to be internally driven and pleaded with the West not to do anything that might upset the internal process

For another, it is doubtful whether the Pakistanis, barring a few human rights activists like Asma Jahangir, journalists like Nazim Sethi and a few other fringe elements, are at all interested in democracy in their country. If they were, the country would not have remained under the spell of the armed forces ever since the country became separated from India. A totally isolated country like Burma could sustain an autocratic rule with the patronage of China for such long years despite people's strong urge for democracy.

But Pakistan was not a closed country, rather it had excellent relations with the West, which alternately promoted both military dictatorship and democracy in the country. It is not that democratic experiment had not taken place in Pakistan, but they all failed miserably. The Pakistani military enjoys all the benefits and privileges of power and takes no responsibility for the direction in which Pakistan is headed. At every stage in Pakistan, the military subverted the process of democracy and rule of law, but the political parties and groups have also contributed their own share in paving the way for the military for having such a critical role through their sheer opportunism and short-sightedness, and in using the military to promote their own goals vis-a-vis other parties.

Islamic radicalism

Zia-ul-Huq sowed the seeds of Islamists' strong grip over the Pakistani society by creating the military-mullah chain, a nexus more explosive than its nuclear weapons, but all political parties have equally hobnobbed with the radical Islamist forces to promote their sectarian interests and electoral gains. Political parties have all lost their legitimacy in the eyes of the public in Pakistan through misgovernance, corruption and cronyism. One need not have to go too far to prove this point. The indictment and the arrest order for two successive Prime Ministers within the last months are enough testimony to the performance of democratic forces in the country. The less said about the democratically elected President Asif Ali Zardari the better. Rightly or wrongly, some even suspect his active role in the assassination of his wife, Benazir Bhutto, whose democratic credentials and personal integrity and record of governance were no better either.

The very ideology of Pakistan, based on religion and the direction it has pushed itself by promoting Islamic radicalism is not conducive to democracy. In that respect, Pakistan is its own enemy of democracy. India's hard or soft stand against Pakistan has no role in any of these developments in Pakistan. On the contrary, India's peaceful initiatives towards Islamabad were always looked as New Delhi's weaknesses and had emboldened the Islamist elements both within and outside the armed forces to bleed India further.

Indeed, after the break-up of Pakistan in 1971 and the rise of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as a civilian politician, India did pursue peaceful relations under the Simla Agreement, but did not prevent General Zia-ul-Haq from staging a military coup and ultimately sending Bhutto to the gallows. Furthermore, democracy is no guarantee for peaceful relations between countries. In fact, India's relations with Nepal have actually worsened after the onset of a messy democracy in that country.

The victory of the two major political parties in the last elections and the formation of a civilian government, the exit of Musharraf and the seeming neutrality of the army chief, General Pervez Kayani, in political developments, had given a temporary respite to Pakistan's fledgling democracy. But, the challenge of exercising civilian supremacy over the military always remained a formidable task, and the prospect of the military taking centre stage again had always haunted, as the political parties struggled hard to continue their marriage of convenience.

Even while a civilian government is in power, the army has since long established its supremacy in the political process and in foreign policymaking by its right to suspend an elected prime minister and keeping complete control over certain policy decisions like Kashmir, Afghanistan and nuclear weapons. Its intelligence unit, the ISI, continues to use Islamic terrorism as a foreign and defence policy tool and resists any kind of civilian oversight of its harmful and clandestine activities that have often boomeranged on Pakistan and wrecked its social, political and economic fabric.

The cleric's message

As the next election approaches, Pakistani politics is getting even more tumultuous with Pakistan-born but Canadian national cleric Tahirul Qadri leading a protest in the heart of the capital, Islamabad, against the incompetence and avarice of the political class and calling for the government to quit. The Pakistani court's decision to issue its orders for the arrest of Prime Minister Ashraf, just as Qadri and his supporters had massed in the capital, triggered fears of a broad, synchronized effort to mount a "soft coup". The developments brought into question who is behind Qadri and his suspiciously well-greased campaign. The cleric's central message - "forget politics, save the state" - is no different from the long-standing slogan of Pakistan's powerful military establishment.

Even during the current civilian rule for the last five years, the generals have manipulated events from behind a thin veil, including rigging elections and backing proxies. The court's order to arrest the Prime Minister, whether it is given effect immediately or not undoubtedly weakens the government, and diminishes its chances of being returned to power after the elections. It would not be wrong to doubt whether the court is acting independently in the interest of the law, or making a political power play that suits the military establishment's political agenda. In such internal political dynamics of Pakistan politics, India's hard or soft stand cannot make any qualitative change in the prospect and survival of democracy in that country.

So New Delhi should not entertain any illusion that India can either help in the flowering of democracy in Pakistan, or that a democratic Pakistan would be more amenable to peaceful relations between the two countries. History is replete with instances where democracies have fought against each other. A similar ideological outlook is no guarantee for peace and stability between countries. If that were so, China and the erstwhile Soviet Union would not have fought against each other.

High stakes and costs

This is not to suggest that India should give up the peace process and dialogue with Pakistan for creating peace and stability in the subcontinent that are extremely important for India's broader foreign policy objectives in the indo-Pacific region. But that dialogue should be directed towards the creation of mutual stakes and raising the cost of misadventures in the form of violation of the LoC and cross-border terrorism.

All relations, including human, are based on stakes and high costs. Malaysia-Singapore relations are an interesting example to prove my point. If one looks at the sources of conflict between the two countries and the mutual perceptions of each other, it is no better than India-Pakistan relations, yet they do not cross the red lines or go to war, for the stakes and the costs of any misadventure are so high that neither can afford any conflict, even though both are armed to the teeth to any eventuality of that sort. Each cannot survive without the other. As an anti-status quo country and having very little economic interactions, Pakistan currently has no stake in friendly relations and peace with India.

To bring Pakistan on board India will need to make every effort to create an environment whereby Islamabad feels encouraged to develop some stakes in friendly relations with India either on its own or is compelled to do so by raising the cost of enmity and conflict. When Islamabad realizes that the benefits of peace with India far outweighs its irredentist misadventures, only then peace and stability will prevail between India and Pakistan.

Another course of action India must pursue with all earnestness and at all costs to neutralize both China and the United States from whom Pakistan receives succor, directly or indirectly, to carry on much of its misadventures vis-à-vis India. Until and unless the US and China are taken out of the India-Pakistan equation, peace and stability cannot be achieved in the subcontinent. It is a difficult, but must find some ways to do that.

The writer is a Distinguished Fellow, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, New Delhi
Verma commission report draws armed forces' fire
NEW DELHI: The J S Verma Committee report has come under intense criticism from security forces for suggesting "breach of command responsibility", holding a commanding officer (CO) responsible if a junior commits rape. The report's suggestion to amend the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has also been opposed by the armed and the paramilitary forces.

Many COs and senior officers are arguing that the breach of command responsibility was unacceptable and could lead to COs ending up in jail for upto seven years for the misdeeds of a junior.

"I have almost 1,000 personnel under me, and they are spread across some five kilometres. They could go on leave, or temporary duty. How am I to ensure their sexual conduct throughout the year, 24 hours a day?" asks the CO of an Army unit.

Officials in the Union home ministry too were taken aback by the panel's "unusual" suggestion to include "breach of command responsibility" as an offence under Section 376. "How can the officer commanding a battalion be held responsible if a junior he sends on a patrol suddenly chooses to go morally astray?" asked an officer, adding that vicarious liability in such a case is "nothing short of absurd".

Another senior officer of the security establishment indicated that the forces deployed in conflict zones like Jammu & Kashmir, Maoist-affected states and the insurgency-hit areas in the north-east, have to constantly guard against foisting of false cases by local, self-proclaimed rights groups who may actually be a front of terrorist or extremist groups. "The J S Verma committee's suggestion, if accepted, will only give such activists a legal handle to falsely implicate not only the jawan but his CO as well," the official warned.

A senior CRPF officer posted in a Naxal-infested area said, "Inserting breach of command responsibility in Section 376 is stretching the law too far. There is so much moral degradation in the society. Anyone can commit a crime on a given day. How can you hold the commanding officer responsible because a constable has gone berserk. No one will work for the forces then."

A BSF officer from the Eastern frontier added, "This is akin to jailing the mother for the crime of the son. We already have a mechanism where commanding officer is reprimanded for transgressions of a junior officer; administrative actions are taken. But punishing him for individual aberration is just not on. Unless there is an organised criminal behaviour in a unit, commanding officer cannot be held responsible."

The J S Verma Committee has recommended the introduction of a new section 376F in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for offence of breach of command responsibility. The proposal is to hold responsible "whoever, being a public servant in command, control or supervision of the police or armed forces...or assuming command whether lawfully or otherwise, fails to exercise control over persons under his or her command, control, or supervision and as a result of such failure" rape and similar offences are committed.

The COs would be held "guilty of the offence of breach of command responsibility" if he "failed to take necessary and reasonable measures within his or her power to prevent or repress the commission of the said offences," the committee has recommended.

Presently, there is no criminal liability for a CO of an Army unit in cases where his subordinates are involved in any kind of breach of discipline. It does of course invite administrative action, or even dismissed from service. The introduction of a criminal liability by a CO for actions of a junior would add a completely new and extremely challenging burden to being a CO, say army officers.

The Committee has also recommended amendments to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), saying, that "impunity for systematic or isolated sexual violence in the process of Internal Security duties is being legitimized" by AFSPA.
How the Indian establishment succumbed to jingoistic hysteria during the LoC crisis with Pakistan
If the incipient Indo-Pak crisis of the past fortnight had any lesson to convey, it was that the road to perdition is lined with shrill, hysterical TV anchors, bloodthirsty politicians and a seemingly somnolent national security establishment. In the dangerously incendiary atmosphere that was allowed to build up recently, the last thing the subcontinent needed was a chest-thumping xenophobic verbal exchange between the leadership of India and Pakistan - civil or military - because it could have easily spiralled into a 'patriotic' war. Fortunately, both nations stepped back from the brink.

India and Pakistan can do without another war, because it would render grievous harm to both economies. For India, conflict would mean a serious setback to its ambitious developmental plans; but given Pakistan's faltering economy and its emerging ethnic and sectarian fissures, it could cause this fragile entity to self-destruct; with immense collateral damage to the neighbourhood. Pakistan's bluff of a nuclear riposte in the face of conventional setbacks was called in Kargil in 1999. Yet, this unstable country persists with the farce of a tacit 'doctrine of ambiguity', and has taken the bizarre decision to stockpile tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) in the hope of intimidating India.

In this context we need to bear in mind that Pakistani generals are not exactly the brilliant stra-tegists they project themselves to be. Four Indo-Pak wars have shown them up as intellectually sterile, their brash overconfidence and myopia have produced nothing but military disasters. They lead an army whose savage and dishonourable conduct in erstwhile East Pakistan, 42 years ago, brought ignominy upon their nation. India must, therefore, reiterate full faith in its conventional military options, backed by a 'no first use' nuclear-deterrent which promises a devastating response to any nuclear strike; including that by a TNW.

It is against such a background that we need to introspect deeply about our muddle-headed and inappropriate response to violation of the LoC by the Pak army; and the barbaric act of mutilating the bodies of Indian jawans killed in action. By indulging in a full-fledged public dissection of a military engagement on the Line of Control (LoC), the so-called experts (from both sides of the border) as well as hyperbolic media-persons not just robbed the two brave soldiers of dignity in death, but raised jingoism to feverish pitch. The haste with which ministers as well as opposition politicians rushed to make inane and popu-list statements clearly demonstrates the inadequacies of our netas. With every successive crisis we are painfully reminded of the absence of statesmanship on our political horizon. Such is the Pavlovian response of our politicians to provocation by the media that the fourth estate seems to dictate our national policies. Since this is not the last crisis that we are going to face, how should we respond to similar situations in the future?

Ceasefire violations on the LoC and the desecration of soldiers' bodies are clearly matters that the two armies should have handled between themselves. In view of their gravity, the issues should have been taken up at the highest level; with the Indian army chief formally asking his Pak counterpart to have the two incidents investigated. Courts of inquiry, on both sides of the LoC, could have ascertained facts of the matter, exchanged information and then tried to affix responsibility at battalion, brigade and division levels. This may have obviated the need for the Indian army to display 'evidence' of ceasefire violations; only to have it trashed, on TV, by Pakistani 'experts'. Nor would ministers have had to fumble for want of a sensible response in public. Regrettably, the only trans-border communication available, currently, is a 'hotline' between the Directors General of Military Operations. Knowing full well the influence that the Pak army wields at home, and the sensitivity of the LoC, the Indian security establishment has been seriously remiss in not establishing a system of regular contacts between the two army chiefs.

No government, since Independence, has considered it nece-ssary to promulgate a National Security Doctrine or Strategy. Consequently, every crisis catches the Indian state unprepared and flat-footed. Whether it is kidnappings, hijackings, terrorist strikes or any other assault on India's sovereignty, we have been found wanting for a plan of action because there are neither 'bottom lines' nor standard operating procedures to guide government functionaries. The recent crisis was no different. Forums like the National Security Advisory Board and the Strategic Policy Group have rarely been mobilised to justify their existence. The huge repository of security expertise resident in the armed forces HQ is wasted; because it lies outside the ministry of defence and the two communicate only through files. A 'single point of military advice' has been consistently spurned for six decades.

The vital importance of 'strategic communication' has been completely lost on the Indian foreign policy and security establishments. Even if suave Pakistani ministers and diplomats make a splash in foreign capitals, it is essential to ensure that we do not lose the subcontinental plot. In the event of a crisis with security implications, the national security adviser must instantly confer with the chiefs of staff committee and the secretaries of defence and external affairs, to evolve a 'crisis management plan' for the PM and the defence and external affairs ministers. Once a spokesperson has been designated to speak on behalf of the government, everyone else must be told to hold their peace.

The media have assumed a vital role in not just keeping the people informed during a crisis situation, but also in conducting a national discourse and moulding public opinion. There is need for the national security establishment to acknowledge this reality; by making available authentic information as well as expert perspectives to the media - in real time if possible.

1 comment:

  1. At the indian army award list 2013 the list was shown as withdrawn for review in the morning at 9 AM. Whay and what were the last minutes changes?



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