Archive for the ‘healthcare’ Category

On 15 March 1929, Sir Albino Banerjee, a Bengali Christen, who for two years had been  Foreign and Political Minister of   Maharaja Hari Singh had observed that the rulers had been treating “Mohammadan population” worst than “cattle.”  Ninety years later, when the idea of governance in the world has undergone a sea change,andcolonialism has crashed themindset of those in the corridors of “hegemonic authority” in the state has not changed. That the ‘ruling elite’ even in the second decade of the twenty-first century considered the people of Kashmir as wild quadrupeds weremanifest in 2010when for silencing the dissenting youth it introduced guns meant for hunting of animals. And allowed troops to use the same with impunity in the state.Ironically, the pellet gun with its single cartridge spewing about five hundred lead-pellets on a finger touch was added to the deadly arsenal of the state as a ‘non-lethal weapon’by the ‘central government’.Of course with the consentof Omar Abdullah thethen chief of the unified military command in the state.  The   5.5 mm wadcutter, domed (round nose), hollow point and pointed lead pellets are deadlier than those used in air guns for animals. Intriguingly, Kashmir is the only place where this weapon is used for controlling thecivilian protest.

In 2010, summer hundred and twenty-sixchildren and youth were killed by thetroops and the state police, thousands wounded and injured,  some fired with pellets in the face and eyes lost their vision. The state using all coercive tactics in its arsenal and brute force in dealing with the situation that across the world was recognized as Kashmir ‘Intifada’had stirred the international media and caused editorials and reports in almost 1800 newspapers and web portals across the globe. It also had pin pricked the conscience of scores of conscientious citizen and writers in India. The killings of children, the insensitivity of the state and the impunity that soldiers have been enjoying under the Armed Forces Special Powers Actdeeply moved some writers and set them to rethink about New Delhi’s policies in Jammu and Kashmir.In fact, many of them  concluded  that “after six decades of effort, Kashmir’s alienation looks greater than ever before.” Some of themthrough their writings had endeavored to update the knowledge ofa new generation about the Kashmir problem that had caused four wars between India and Pakistan andtaken atoll of ‘country’s economy-  half ofthe population of India’s population has been living below the poverty line.Swaminathan S Aiyar had written, “Many Indians say that Kashmir legally became an integral part of India when the Maharaja of the state signed the instrument of accession. Alas, such legalisms become irrelevant when ground realities change. Indian kings and princes, including the Moguls, acceded to the British Raj. The documents they signed became irrelevant when Indians launched an independence movement.  The British insisted for a long time that India was an integral part of their Empire, the Jewel in its crown, and would never be given up. Imperialist Blimps remained in denial for decades. I fear we are in similar denial on Kashmir.”

The uprisings during the summers of 2008, 2009 and 2010, had convinced even a section of leadership in India like P. Chidambaram, the then Home Minister that the laws like the AFSPA, seen as the darkest of darklaws by people of the state need tobe withdrawn. Nevertheless, the lessons learned that the coercive tactics and brutish handling of the resistance instead of improving the situations complicate itfurther, andthe dialogue was the only way forwardof resolving the problem by adoptinga policy of denying even an inch of space to the voices of the dissent in the statewere unlearned after 2014. Instead of instilling some faith in youth through hate media blitzby some televisions channels they have been and are being driven to the wall.

In the recent past 2016 has been the grisliest year, the New York Times had rightly observed that in the history of Kashmir it would pass as the year of “Dead Eyes Epidemic.” In that year thousands of children with ‘eyes ruptured’ by lead pellets fired by paramilitary troops and police ‘armed with pump-actionshotguns’were brought to the hospitals- in fact, hospitals could not accommodate all those injured with pellets.   More than thirteen hundred suffered impaired vision,andhundreds of others pelleted to blindness pushed into darkness for rest of their life. From important newspapers in the world to the Amnesty International to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights every organization concerned about the human rights violations raised their voice against blinding of children and demanded to ban of the pellet guns. Even, the National Human Right Commission defending human right records of India before the UN Commission on Human Rights had described the use of pellet gun during 2016 turmoil as “controversial.”

For past three years, the UN Human Rights Commission has been showing concern about the human rights situation in the state and asking Islamabad and New Delhi for providing unbridled access to the state on both the sidesof the transitory dividing line.  Interestingly, despite,   voices raised in various international forums against the use of pellet gun on civilian protestors and blinding of children as young as four years, boys and girls nightmares of ‘epidemic of dead-eyes’  continue to haunt people. In fact, the ground situation during past three years has not changed.   Roughlysixty to seventy peoplewerehit with pellets, many in the face and the chest in past twenty days in April only.  Hardly, there is a day when stories with headings like “Kashmir’s many Inshas and their dark, shattered lives” or “Kashmir pellet injuries bring back memories of 2016” are not reported in the newspapers.

New Delhi, despite having assured abandoning the use of the pellet has not so far responded to the clarion calls from international human rights organizations. Troops continue to empty shotguns on juvenile protestors as shooting ducks.   In this tormenting bizarre scenario some days back a word of experience was distinctly visible in the statement of Army Chief, candidly saying that not the gun but ‘dialogue’ was a way forward. It is high time, for the present dispensation in New Delhi to pick up the word of experience and make a beginning for initiating a dialogue with all the internationally recognized contestingparties to the Dispute by revoking the AFSPA and retreating the pellet gun.

Z. G .MUHAMMAD
Columnist and Writer
Srinagar,
Kashmir.
www.peacewatchkashmir.com

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Hajibal villagers complain of ‘ever locked’ health centre


‘Have to travel 21 kiolmetres for minor complaints’

Younis Dar

Baramulla: Residents of Hajibal village in Barmulla district are complaining of non-availability of staff at local health centre due to which they said they are suffering immensely.
The health centre is running from a rented room and caters to the village with a population of around 609 (census 2011).
The health centre has been rendered useless, according to locals, because of the habitual absence of the staff.
“With the ever locked dispensary, we are left with no option but to travel to Baramulla district hospital which is about 21 kilometers from the village, and which takes one and a half hour to reach if transport facility is available. If not then we have to reach hospital by foot and which takes almost three hours to reach,” Syed Imtiyaz, a resident of the village said.
“For a headache or even a fever we have to travel all the way to reach district hospital Baramulla,” he added.
Abdul Majeed, president of the village said, that the female staff members at the health centre were last seen one month back.
“From that day, no one opened the door of PHC,” he said.
Majeed added that a day before, a local resident suffered a minor heart pain, but due to non-availability of staff he had to be taken to district hospital “as we have no other option on the way to district hospital”.
Block Medical Officer Dr Farooq Sheikh told Kashmir Reader that the staff was sharing days with another health centre.
“We have designed a schedule under which the staffers attend their duties three days a week at Hajibal and three days at Drangbal, (2km from Baramulla). But we are likely to conduct a meeting in which we will solve this issue,” Dr Farooq said.
However, local residents contest the claim and allege that the staff is never available at the PHC, “not even for a day

https://kashmirreader.com/2018/04/14/hajibal-villagers-complain-of-ever-locked-health-centre/

By Amnesty International India

On the 27th anniversary of the rapes of dozens of women in the towns of Kunan and Poshpora, Jammu and Kashmir, in 1991, allegedly by Indian army personnel, Asmita Basu, Programmes Director at Amnesty International India, said:

“For 27 years, the lack of accountability for the crimes committed in Kunan and Poshpora has been a festering injustice, and a chilling example of the impunity that surrounds human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Attempts at seeking justice and compensation for the survivors have been blocked by the Jammu and Kashmir state government, the central government and the Indian Army. Five of the victims have died waiting for justice.

“Authorities must ensure a thorough, impartial and effective investigation into the allegations. All suspects, including those with command responsibility, must be prosecuted in a civilian court.”

Previous investigations into the allegations have been ineffective. The J&K police declared that the case was ‘untraceable’ and stopped investigations in October 1991. To date, nobody has been charged or prosecuted in connection to the case.

In October 2011, the J&K State Human Rights Commission directed the state government to compensate victims and re-investigate the allegations. In June 2013, a court in Kupwara district directed the J&K police to investigate the long-standing allegations within three months.

When the investigations proved ineffective, five survivors filed a petition in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in October 2013. The state government, central government and the Army have since filed multiple petitions in different courts, sometimes simultaneously, and secured temporary orders suspending investigations and the provision of compensation.

 https://amnesty.org.in/news-update/no-justice-yet-kunan-poshpora-rapes/

Image result for Munaza Gulzar kashmir activist Sarposh Management Service


 SRINAGAR: Activism in Kashmir has usually seen men at the forefront. Women — who are perhaps the biggest victims of the protracted conflict in the valley — have remained on the sidelines, treated as passive victims and confined to the four walls of their home.

In recent years, however, there has been a slow and gradual yet noticeable change, as brave young female voices have emerged from the patriarchal and conservative mindsets and raised their voice against the challenges and difficulties that make up the lives of people in the valley.

Munaza Gulzar: A post graduate gold medalist in social work from the University of Kashmir, Gulzar is a United Kingdom registered social worker. She deals with mental health & child issues with more than 15 years of experience in Kashmir and abroad. Gulzar has exclusively worked on mental health for 4 years. She has also worked for differently-abled people, and vulnerable women groups and their needs.

Munazah has worked in almost every district of the Kashmir region. Currently she runs her own mental health clinic in Srinagar under Sarposh Management Service.

“Activism to me is putting into action a fight against injustice and recognition of rights”, says Gulzar.

Gulzar shifted her career from journalism to social activism the moment she visited Kunan Poshpora rape victims. To her, listening to their narrative was a decisive factor in the shift in profession.

Asked how difficult it is to work in Kashmir, she said, “Conflict affects every aspect of our life. Be it the mental state or a choice of your profession, the regular sense of insecurity prevailing in the state is a very disturbing element”. “Conflict is a major insecurity tracking you all the time. It curbs your freedom making you unable to do justice to your work”, she added.

Kashmir lacks a joint forum for social and political activists. There is no proper process of registration by the system. Activists lack a common platform to speak out as everyone does it at an individual level.

Natasha Rather is a young human rights defender, who currently works as a researcher for the Jammu & Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS). She started her activism in 2014 and her work is centred on human rights abuses perpetrated by the Indian state in Kashmir.

Rather is one of the five authors of the book “Do You Remember Kunan Poshpora?” which was published as a part of Zubaan Series on ‘Sexual Violence and Impunity in South Asia’.

She has been a part of the campaign seeking justice for the survivors of Kunan Poshpora Mass Rape and Torture case. She is seeking justice for the Handwara girl who was allegedly molested by army personnel in Handwara in April 2016.

She has also helped pellet victims. In 2016, she along with her association ran a campaign against the use of pellet guns which led to blinding of 100s of young people in Kashmir.

She said, “Indian state’s displeasure and dislike for human rights issues to be discussed, curfews, restrictions, Gag on social media and communication, pose obstacles in my work”.

Ather Zia: The Citizen spoke to Ather Zia, a Kashmiri journalist who was formerly with the BBC and is currently an Assistant Professor in Anthropology and Gender Studies Department at University of Northern Colorado, Greeley. She works on militarization, gender, and enforced disappearances in Kashmir.

Asked how conflict poses challenge to the activists here, she said, “The obstacles one faces in a situation like Kashmir is the state surveillance, which impedes mobility, and gathering data”.

She defines an activist to be the one who raises a voice against injustice, and makes sure it is heard and is constantly engaged with the ground, pursuing the cause one has taken up.

A number of people came forward post 2010 and 2016 raising their voice not only on the ground but on social media platforms as well. Some people effortlessly create awareness in the form of poetry, prose and art.

Sabiya Dar joined the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) in 2008 when she was in her 12th standard. Dar says she finds a sense of purpose in helping half widows.

She said, “We face too many challenges from the state whenever we try to help them financially, legally, psychologically, medically or even educationally. Now we are used to it and have stopped reacting because we know we have been doing a great work. We feel the pain of the victims and hope for justice. At the end truth prevails”.

There are some individuals and organisations who have helped pellet victims but they want to remain anonymous. Several people told The Citizen that they face constant repercussions from the state and the army. They also said that they do not want these victims to face the wrath of the state, and hence, rather remain under the radar.

Zia, reacting to this reality, said, “Issues such as Human Rights violations are not palatable issue for the government. Many HR defenders prefer being unnamed since it helps them work in anonymity and without being unduly penalized by the state agencies, which can include routine harassment or even incarceration”.

Mehreen Zafar is advocate who works at the lower court in Srinagar and is associated with J&K Right to Information Act Movement. Zafar said that, “Kashmir is a conflict zone and work atmosphere is very difficult. Due to the presence of draconian Laws in the name of AFSPA & PSA, activism becomes more terrible. There is always a fear of getting arrested arbitrarily”.

Farrukh Faheem from the Institute of Kashmir Studies at Kashmir University said that the moment there is a human rights violation, people pour out on the streets to register their protest. They express themselves through graffiti and other means and those who narrate their stories at the cost of their lives and security are activists too.

To Faheem, categorizing an activist becomes difficult in a place like Kashmir which has a history of unrest and uncertainty. He says these new women emerging in Kashmir are indirectly testing the patriarchal norms as well.

Nadiya Shafi, 28, is a community correspondent for ‘Video Volunteers’ which is a media and human rights organization based in Goa. She also runs a few gender discussion clubs in Kashmir under the Dismantle Patriarchy campaign. She started her work in 2010 and has documented more than 200 cases of half-widows and has made more than 100 videos on different social issues.

Shafi has also given financial assistance to several pellet victims, along with her colleagues.

“Conflict has made us and our family vulnerable. It hinders our work. I am not only concerned about myself but also about the people whom I get to meet”, says Shafi.

She says that while documenting the cases of half-widows, she was being closely monitored by the state police and the forces for which her family had to send her to Delhi for a year.

“I was stopped several times in downtown Srinagar during the 2016 unrest. My equipment was confiscated and the footage was deleted,” she said.

She added,” You never know when you are called up by the armed forces. Working in conflict is overall a big challenge. We work under the shadow of guns”.

Facing all the challenges in an uncertain atmosphere, some new faces prefer to work silently while serving people irrespective of faith and belief. These activists have become the voice of the people, trying their best to bring about socio-political changes in the valley. After generations, women are no longer passive victims, but agents of change.

Electroshock weapons have potential to kill: DAK
electroshock-495x309

Srinagar, Nov 9, CNS:  With electroshock weapons approved for crowd control in Kashmir, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) today said that these weapons have the potential to kill.

Terming these weapons lethal, President DAK Dr Nisar-ul-Hassan in a statement said that these devices pose a significant and fatal risk to human life.

Electroshock weapons are incapacitant devices that discharge high voltage electrical current.

Hundreds of deaths have been reported in reliable studies due to the use of these weapons.

A study published in “American Heart Association Journal” has linked these devices to cardiac arrests and deaths.

Amnesty international has documented over 500 deaths that occurred after the use of these weapons.

Another Canadian study revealed that these devices trigger ventricular fibrillations and the threshold for these deadly arrhythmias decrease with repeated shocks.

They are particularly dangerous to those with underlying heart condition and implanted pacemakers.

Studies have shown that these devices can cause eye injuries, seizures, collapsed lungs and head injuries when the victims hit the ground.

These weapons have been banned in many countries.

United Nations has also raised extensive concerns about the use of electro-shock devices.

Even the manufacturing companies of these devices no longer claim them non-lethal.

Long Range Acoustic Device (LARD) has also been approved for use against protestors in Kashmir that can cause permanent hearing loss.

Originally developed as military weapons, these sonic devices can produce an intensely loud sound of greater than 140-decibels.

Sounds greater than 85 decibels can leave a person permanently deaf. (CNS)

In this picturea taken on 22 March, 2013 eighteen year old Tariq Gojri (L) who lost his right eye to a  pellet gun allegedly fired by Indian police officials poses with family members during an interview with  AFP at his home in Khanpora.

AFP Photo/Tauseef Mustafa

The season of apples had arrived. Gulzar Ahmad’s garden in Jammu and Kashmir’s hilly district of Shopian had the air of another fruitful season. On the 16th of last month, he visited his garden to trim the grass. He has not been able to see it since.

On 9 July, the Indian security forces killed the 22-year old Hizbul militant Burhan Wani in Tral. The encounter was followed by a series of protests erupting across the Valley over the next couple of months.

One such protest broke out near 40-year old Gulzar’s apple garden when he cutting the grass, says his brother, Shabbir, 26.

Forces used pellet guns, which they call a “non lethal” weapons, to quell the hostile protestors. One of the pellets went right through one of Gulzar’s eyes while another slit the side of the other eye.

BLINDED

More than 800 such patients have been admitted to Srinagar’s government hospital with ruptured eyes since 9 July.

The pellets made of iron, covered with a millimetre of rubber coating, have cost hundreds their entire or partial eyesight. And the inflow of patients does not seem to be in the mood to shrink.

It has been more than two months since Wani’s killing but the Valley is still on fire. The number of casualties has crossed 70 and the curfew is still intact.

Normalcy has consistently eluded the Valley with Kashmiris demanding freedom from the Indian state and withdrawal of AFSPA, which gives unbridled powers to the armed forces to operate in the valley.

More than 5 lakh security personnel are reportedly deployed in Kashmir. With armed forces misusing their powers quite frequently, along with the feeling of being an occupied territory, the sentiment against India is constantly simmering in the Valley.

Observers say the assassination of Wani proved to be a mere trigger to fire the sentiment once again.

Thousands and lakhs have thronged the streets in protests in spite of being aware of the possible repercussions.

THE SHOOTING DOESN’T STOP

As a result, the government hospital in Srinagar is deluged with patients. Many of them have been operated upon several times but to no avail.

Gulzar has already had two surgeries. He is still completely blind in one eye, while the other works only to an extent. The gravity of eye injuries at the hospital have been too much to handle for the doctors here. “They are clueless,” says Shabbir.

It has compelled Borderless World Foundation, an NGO working in Kashmir for around two decades, to facilitate the visits of some of the most renowned eye surgeons in the country.

CALL IN THE EXPERTS

Dr Sundaram Natarajan, CMD of Aditya Jyoti Eye Hospital in Mumbai, is one of them. He has visited Srinagar twice already and performed 80 surgeries while his team has performed close to 300 of them.

Dr Natarajan has dealt eye injuries due to fireworks, has treated industrial labourers working without protective gear, and also operated punctured eyes of boxers in his illustrious career spanning 30 years.

He has treated injuries during Operation Blue Star in 1984. He has treated injured army men in 1986-87. But this has been the biggest challenge of his life.

The sheer number of patients, he says, is unprecedented. “The youngest was 5. The oldest 22. The age of the victims, along with the sheer quantum is something I have never seen before. They may call it non-lethal but the damage pellets are causing is terrible.”

WHAT LAST RESORT IS THIS?

The pellet guns are supposed to be used for crowd control. Even though the protestors often outnumber the security forces, pellet guns are always used sparingly, as a last resort of sorts.

PDP spokesperson Waheed-Ur-Parra said there are clear orders to the security forces to show maximum restraint while doing so. “A lot of the violence has taken place outside security camps,” he said. “It means the mob mobilised in front of the camp.”

Hostile protests, however, have broken out across the country over the years, but pellet guns are being used only in Kashmir.

Across the globe, they have been used to defuse protests in Egypt, Bahrain and Tunisia. But countries avoid using them on unarmed civilians because they cannot be aimed and are sprayed around to placate the hysterical crowd.

The perceivably excessive use of pellet guns causing ghastly eye injuries have caught the public eye so much that Rajnath Singh had to assure the authorities would think of another non-lethal weapon to deal with agitating civilians.

PAIN AND ANGER

Founder of Borderless World Foundation, Adhik Kadam, says the manner in which the security forces have dealt with the protestors only accentuates their anger against the Indian state. “A teenager loses eyesight,” he says. “He would live with anger and bitterness for the rest of his life. Unfortunately, there are enough people out there to exploit that anger. Those blinded during stone-pelting today could well cause bigger destruction tomorrow.”

Ground reports suggest the protests have grown in direct proportion with the pellets. Slogans in solidarity with Wani and against the Indian state have become louder.

Kadam says that once mob vandalised a government ambulance but let the Borderless World Foundation ambulance go untouched.

Kadam, who has been dubbed pro-terrorist by a section of the society for working towards the revival of protestors’ eyesight, says we need to find out honest answers as to why young Kashmiri boys are readily picking up stones.

“A normal boy going to school sees an AK 47 at least 50 times in a day,” he says. “All those young protestors have grown up in this atmosphere. Is it normal to grow up like that?”

Shabbir, who has participated in anti-India protests before, says life in Kashmir has become hell. “The security forces barge into our houses at odd hours,” he says. “They do what they want to and leave. How do we not protest that?”

INDIFFERENCE

While the Indian government evidently reacted late to the horror in Kashmir, the separatist leaders did not show much of a promise either by turning away the all-party delegation.

Experts complain about the inconsistent engagement between Srinagar and Delhi, and say the talks are attempted only when Kashmir burns.

Amidst the political deadlock, the disaffected youth in the Valley are ignored, says Kadam, and humanity suffers the most. “We say Kashmir is ours,” he says. “But we are fighting for the land. We need to fight for the people.”

Meanwhile, Dr Natarajan is preparing for his third visit to Srinagar as patients and their families wait with baited breath. Hardly anyone has returned to their respective districts, for it would be complicated to come back to Srinagar amidst the curfew.

Natarajan is scheduled to operate 100 victims in the four days starting 20 September. Gulzar would be one of them.

By the time Natarajan arrives in Srinagar, Gulzar would have spent more than a month struggling to do the things he took for granted all his life. He was hit on 16 August. Just a day before, he had witnessed India celebrate its 69th independence day.

 

http://www.catchnews.com/india-news/blinded-by-pellets-kashmiris-wait-for-eye-doctors-from-mumbai-for-help-1473603037.html/fullview

Malala (File Photo)

“I call on the United Nations, the international community and India and Pakistan to work together with utmost urgency to right these wrongs’ – Malala.

Pakistan’s teenage Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai on Tuesday called on the UN, Pakistan and India to come together and halt the ‘inhumanity and heartbreak’ in Kashmir. Malala was quoted as saying by Dawn: “The Kashmiri people, like people everywhere, deserve their fundamental human rights… They should live free of fear and repression.”

“I call on the United Nations, the international community and India and Pakistan to work together with utmost urgency to right these wrongs, providing the people of Kashmir with the dignity, respect and freedom they deserve.”

She added: “Dozens of unarmed protesters have been killed and thousands wounded, including hundreds of people blinded by pellet guns used to put down demonstrations, many schools have been closed… keeping children away from their classrooms.”

“I stand with the people of Kashmir,” she said. “My 14 million Kashmiri sisters and brothers have always been close to my heart.”

Pakistani army chief says Islamabad will continue to support the sacrifices of Kashmiri people

Pakistan army chief General Raheel Sharif on Tuesday described Kashmir as Pakistan’s “jugular vein” and said Islamabad will continue to support the people of the Valley on the “diplomatic and ethical” fronts.

“We salute the great sacrifices of the people of Kashmir for their right of self-determination. The solution of the problem lies in the implementation of the resolutions of United Nations in this regard. Pakistan will continue to support Kashmir on the diplomatic and ethical fronts,” said the chief of army staff, addressing a ceremony held at General Headquarters in Rawalpindi to mark the country’s Defence Day.

General Raheel praised people of the Valley for rendering “innumerable sacrifices”.

The army chief asserted that “the defence of Pakistan is invincible”. “I want to make it clear to all the enemies that the defence of Pakistan already strong but now it has become invincible,” he was quoted as saying by theExpress Tribune.

On the challenges the country is facing, he said: “I want to make it clear that we are fully aware of all covert and overt intrigues and intentions of our enemies. Be the challenge military or diplomatic; on the borders or within the cities, we know our friends and foes all too well.” On Pakistan’s ties with China, the army chief said the greatest example of a relationship based on mutual respect and principle of equality in the region is the Pak-China friendship.

“China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the paramount evidence of this relationship. I would like to assure that we shall not allow any external force to obstruct it and any such attempt will be dealt with iron hands,” he said.

General Raheel said the Operation Zarb-e-Azb against terrorists had achieved its objectives to confront terror, saying the armed forced will go to any limit to ensure Pakistan’s security.

He praised the military, police and other law enforcement agencies for their “utmost efforts” to establish law and order in the country.

“There is a need to implement the National Action Plan and break the nexus between corruption and terrorism to fully consolidate the successes of Operation Zarb-e-Azb in the entire country,”

With PTI inputs.


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