Sharjeel Imam. | Photo: Twitter/@Goutham09828240
Sharjeel Imam. | Photo: Twitter/@Goutham09828240
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New Delhi: Police forces in as many as five states are on the lookout for JNU student Sharjeel Imam over a controversial speech at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) this month, but his family has said he is a meritorious student who is being subjected to a witch-hunt.

“They are just tarnishing my son’s image, he has done nothing wrong,” Afshan Rahim, mother of the 32-year-old PhD scholar in Modern Indian History and an IIT graduate, told ThePrint.

Rahim said her son’s comments are being twisted and taken out of context.

She was referring to the viral video of Imam’s AMU speech on 16 January in which he purportedly sought road blocks as a means to cut off the chicken’s neck from India as part of anti-CAA and NRC protests.

Assam aur India katke alag ho jaaye, tabhi ye humari baat sunenge (Only once India and Assam are cut off from each other will they listen to us),” he can be heard as saying in the video.

Sharjeel Imam, who has gained traction over the past month for being a vocal critic of the CAA and an initial organiser of the Shaheen Bagh protests in the national capital, was allegedly seeking unity in protests in the region as CAA-NRC will severely hurt “the Hindu and Muslim Bengalis in the Northeast”.

After a political row ensued over the “communal” nature of his speech, state police in Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Delhi filed sedition cases against him.

Speaking to ThePrint, Imam’s uncle Aurangzeb Arman said, “He is a bright young man who was fighting against CAA-NRC. The media is portraying him as the villain by taking 3 minutes out of a 40-minute speech.”

Arman said the family will cooperate with the police and the courts. “It is for the courts to now decide whether or not it was okay to take those 3 minutes out of context. We have full faith in the judiciary.”

Sharjeel Imam has been absconding since Sunday morning, when the FIR was first registered against him.

The Jehanabad police in Bihar raided Imam’s home in Kako late Sunday and questioned his family members, including his younger brother and journalism student Muzammil Imam and Rahim, on his whereabouts.


Also read: Modi-Shah’s Delhi dislike found its new target just in time for election – Shaheen Bagh


From IIT to JNU

Born and brought up in the Jehanabad district of Bihar, Sharjeel Imam’s childhood was spent amid books — oscillating between history and computer science at his missionary school in Patna.

When he scored 98 out of 100 in computer science in his 12th board examinations, his teacher was shocked, Arman told ThePrint.

“His teacher sent his copy for re-checking, because they couldn’t fathom how someone like Sharjeel didn’t score 100/100. That’s how smart he was considered by his teachers,” Arman said.

Afreen Fatima, Imam’s friend from JNU, described him as “extremely knowledgeable”.

“I don’t know anyone who has such a strong hold over Indian history. He could talk about Eqbal Ahmad and Allama Iqbal at length.”

Imam completed his schooling in 2006, and cleared the JEE entrance exam in the first attempt. He secured a spot in the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, for a B.Tech in computer science.

Imam has previously written about how he was the sole Muslim in a class of 200 undergraduates.

“…Many rumours and prejudices against Muslims were propagated and taken as truth by many ill-informed Hindu students, as there were no Muslims to debunk them,” Imam wrote in 2017.

After graduation, Sharjeel Imam joined a software company in Bengaluru and spent 2 years there.

“At his job, he had the opportunity to go to Europe multiple times. We told him to stick to his comfortable life, now that his job had even opened doors of European countries,” said Arman.

However, disgruntled at the lack of Muslim representation in his college education as well as corporate setup, Imam made up his mind about quitting his job and switching to a life in social sciences. His father Akbar Imam, too, had worked as a social worker and was closely affiliated with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U).

Akbar unsuccessfully contested as JD(U)’s candidate from the Jehanabad constituency in the 2005 assembly elections. He died in 2014 after battling cancer for several years.

Imam turned to Jawaharlal Nehru University in 2013 in the hope of a more egalitarian environment, but the institution too left him disappointed.


Also read: Who represents India’s Muslims? Thanks to CAA protests, we now know the answer


‘Islamophobia of the Left’

After Sharjeel Imam took admission in JNU as an MA student due to its “reputation as the fort of secularism and struggles against oppressive forces”, he was immediately impressed by the Left forces in the campus.

Imam joined the All India Students Association (AISA) — the student wing of the CPI(ML). In 2015, he even contested for the JNU Student Union’s elections for the post of the councillor as AISA’s candidate.

But around this time, Imam began perceiving how Islamophobia was “rampant in the progressive’ campus”.

“The anti-Islamic zeal of our comrades is not much different from the zeal of ill-informed Hindu students in the IITs, at least as far as the content of the debates is concerned,” he wrote in an article.

When JNU student Najeeb Ahmad mysteriously disappeared from the campus in October 2016 after a scuffle with a group of ABVP students, Imam criticised the Left for its “tokenistic support” to Najeeb, its fear-mongering and what he called its “inherent anti-Muslim nature”.

Imam called Ahmad’s disappearance and subsequent reaction of the Left parties as the “last straw”, following which he quit AISA in late 2016. His exit from a student political party, however, made him more political and vocal in his views.

“This is what forced me out of my politically inactive state, as I severed my ties with the party, and started speaking against AISA-SFI (Students’ Federation of India) narrative,” he wrote.

Since then, Imam has written multiple articles calling out liberals for their Islamophobia. He had also hit out at many liberals for supporting Kanhaiya Kumar over RJD’s Begusarai candidate Tanvir Hasan.

However, Imam’s uncle said his family doesn’t know much about his political affiliations in JNU.

“We didn’t know about his politics, or his day-to-day schedule in the university. All we know with certainty is that he was a born genius — he got through IIT, MA, M.Phil and PhD. This isn’t an easy feat,” Arman said.


Also read: Shaheen Bagh not just a local protest, it’s India’s Tahrir, Taksim Square: Umar Khalid


The ‘chakka jam’ politics

Now, as Sharjeel Imam gets embroiled in a controversy over his allegedly seditious speech, his friend said his approach to protest has always been about getting the government’s attention.

“Since day 1, Sharjeel has talked about how our protests can get the attention of the government and the civil society. The government doesn’t care about us, especially Muslims, so his call to ‘chakka jam’ (road blocks) was merely an attempt to make the government listen to us,” said Fatima.

His conception behind the Shaheen Bagh protests stemmed from the same idea, she said.

“He knew the only way to get the people in Delhi to pay attention to our woes was a road blockade. That’s how Shaheen Bagh happened,” she said.

Imam was one of the initial organisers of the Shaheen Bagh protests but called it off on 4 January to “avoid politicisation of the stage by parties”.  The protests continued nonetheless, with women protestors taking charge. On 25 January, after the political row over his speech, Shaheen Bagh protestors issued a statement distancing themselves from Imam’s remarks and said the protest has “no sole organiser”.

Fatima said she understands why Imam’s speech won’t be palatable to many, and why it is being dismissed as “communal” and “impulsive”.

“If I would’ve heard him speak for the first time, I too would have reacted the same way. But because I’ve been working with him, I know exactly what he meant,” she said.


Also read: In UP, 1,000 women booked in 8 FIRs as Lucknow, Prayagraj host their own Shaheen Bagh


 

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66 Comments Share Your Views

66 COMMENTS

  1. India is a Democracy supposedly and what Sharjeel had told was in no sense seditious. After seeing the ill treatment and step brotherly treatment given to the North East states, hence the comment from him.

    BJP and its its affiliates saw this Intelligent and Socially active person as a threat to their proposed CAA and NRC and just needed an excuse to bring him down.

    Long Live Sharjeel Imam and May He be able to spread his message and Ideas to all !!

  2. Since like Afreen Fatima we are not friends of that bigot Sharjeel, we would have been wiser if the writer had had explained to us what exactly Afreen understood from his speech.

  3. What a victim? I live overseas and I am the only Indian woman in almost every place I go. Does that justify me taking a stance of victimhood? Absolutely NOT! One always has a choice to either feel like a victim or feel privileged to have made it. This encourages others to break glass ceilings. I definitely do not support this mentality of victimhood and the dishonest use of the term Islamophobia to excuse poor behavior and attitude!.

  4. First, got to know with ill-informed hindus, then leftist and then even with liberals. So yet to know with our own people doing the same to us, doing a dirty job from under power center. Then what? The story is never end with twists and turns.

    So it need to know all-around information, inside story and dig out the very fact that is laid hidden in deep. From surface it look a mess.

    Dont stop fighting for own 10%, but for all other many 10s, 20s that make 90%. The 1% base on rest of 10% is cause for all chaos and misinformation. Set at center, one does not do what it has to be done and the other does the extreme. There is easy miss in middle, a balanced and acceptable way to do. Check how this nation was administered centuries ago and from the time it is. All system and methods there. Any individual or group could simply recollect and repeat it well reflecting the values of this nation. Protests are start and staying with is easy for suppressors.

  5. And if talking about disapearing of people any one can be kidnapped.
    And talking about hanging and punishing the culprits of rape and murder, u too know the speed of prosecution by courts in India.

    More than concerning about other aspects of life.. Like education,job etc muslims are more concerned about there religion only..

    I was watching a pradhan mantri baal purashkar, not a single muslim child was there who would have done something well for this society or him or his family in a year.. And muslim population is more than 17 crore in India, more than the total population of pakistan,iran, saudi, and other countries.. And they say they are in minority. How?

    More than contributing to the growth of nation they have focused on there personal greeds.

    They are always insecure about Islam is in danger..
    Oh common buddy islam is the 2nd largest in the world with 25% of total population of world.. Even if it is in danger it won’t vanish.

    And if a muslim is highly educated or scholar he barely intend to contribute in growth of country, i have read it almost evrry year or in every six month that some well qualified from IIT AMU JNU has join some ISIS or other terrorist group and want became jihadi. Instead of reading that they have contributed in something for this country better than religion.

    And in India due to the political favours. Muslim just want evrythig for them only. They want everything thing should be in there favour only. As if other citizens are mindless fools.

    And in police interogation this man has admitted that he wants INDIA TO BE AN ISLAMIC COUNTRY. Just see the mentality of well qualified IITian who knows the history on tip of toungue.
    And it was his perspective, mentality and upbringing that he could not sight for something good, rather than speaking and doing evil.

    If he or anyone else wants same like him why dont they leave the citizenship of India.. There are already 50 muslim countries in world. They can have good time there with people like them. And also because most of them dont have faith in Constitution and prosecution of Indian judiciary. So it would be good for evryone that they leave the country as early as possible rather than feeling bad here.
    Alteast those wasted seats of IITs would be left for some sensible and worthy candiate who could serve country or the world for some better causes.

  6. You describing Sharjeel like describing Osama Bin Laden by his degrees.. The quint, The wire, The print all three are pro- islamic advertisers .

  7. Here describing Sharjeel seems describing OsamaBinLaden by his degrees.. The quint, The wire, The print all three pro- islamic advertisers are same.

  8. I thought the print is a a truly secular media channel . But by defending Sharjeel Imam , you guys lost my faith .
    I watched Sharjeel full video and he clearly said and I quote “agar paanch laakh log hmare paas ho organised , tab hm north east ko permanently cut kar skte hain , permanently Nahi to Kuch mhino ke lie to Kar hi skte hain”
    But how beautifully you skipped this part and defended him.
    Instead of critising his radical thought you started defending him . With due respect you guys are no different than Godi media .

  9. The Print is an extension to Al-Jazeera. The govt sould seize all its assets and put them behind bars for supporting this well groomed terrorist.

    Most of Islamic Terrorists are highly educated in top-notch Western Institutes IIT and JNU stands nowhere to them. Infact his higher education makes his more dangerous.
    West would have treated this Jehaadi more strictly than India If he would be in Saudi Arabia he would have given death penalty by beheading publicly.

    I have watched his full video of his disturbing speech and u can’t defend this Evil Islamist. He is abusing Assamese to fullfill his naxal propoganda then he will say about cutting Jawahar Tunnel to cut Kashmir from India, abusing India for its Secular nature , calling Muslims for another Direct Action Day to create Pakistan and massacre non-Muslims, Gandhi just for his RamRajya dream when Gandhian Muslim appeasement is well known.

  10. This person clearly proves that all persons clearing JEE may not be dedicated and sincere towards mother India. He looks like a muslim fanatic with little Idea about Islam and it’s teachings. Instead of condemning terrorists like Zakir Naiks and Hafeez Syeds of the world who are absolutely dangerous for the survival of the world, this kid joins them and proves a much bigger danger than them. Punish him immediately and do not allow him to wander outside anytime in the near future.

  11. Wonderful attempt made to cover up a Jihadist as only can The Print and its band of intrepid propagandists, masquerading as journalists. The man in video is asking for Assam to be cut off from rest of India and Smt Khan is labelling his comments as only “alleged”. I wonder is this the journalism that The Print had promised its readers when it was set up.

  12. This person clearly proves that all persons clearing JEE may not be dedicated and sincere towards mother India. He looks like a muslim fanatic with little Idea about Islam and it’s teachings. Instead of condemning terrorists like Zakir Naiks and Hafeez Syeds of the world who are absolutely dangerous for the survival of the world, this kid joins them and proves a much bigger danger than them. Punish him immediately and do not allow him to wander outside anytime in the near future.

  13. There r so many people in this country who r giving inflammatory speeches. No one is catching them.,No one is hanging rapist and murderers here. NO ONE IS ARRESTING PEOPLE WHO R SAYING “Goli maro saloon ko”. No one is arresting people who did violence in Jamaia university or JNU. Rapist and killers of Asifa are still not hanged . The people who lynched and killed innocent Muslims are not arrested. THE PEOPLE BEHIND THE DISAPPEARANCE OF naveed The JNU student are free . Innocent children from orphanage of Muzzafarnagar are tortured and beaten by iron rods and harressed by police officers. No-one questions them. But you know Allah’s plan is best. What ever you doing kafirs u do..One day will come when u have to Pay for all this. Even to those will also come under wrath of Allah who r supporting these culprits.

    • Ur only Allah is the greatest and doing whatever in the name of islam, is the biggest problem and root cause of the most problems in the world.. No islamic country is at peace.. The country having muslims are always undergoing such non sense issues like war and terrorism. That is the very reason why most of the developed countries come into tension when there muslim poplulation rises.
      And if talk about history also out of most tyrants were muslims, in there rein 1/3rd of world population was killed. Even in our country they did same. Beheaded innocents for the spread of islam.

      More than a peaceful religion it is a violent, insecure religion.. No other is like that in the whole world. All the other religions are atleast open minded and peaceful even if the people are rich or poor, educated or uneducated.
      If any other religion person lives in a neighbour of a muslims, he will always feel and unknown insecurity and fear.

      In hindus christians jains budhists if a person is doing something wrong people will boycott him, punish him and try to make him realise his mistake but in islam if some one is doing wrong 10more will join it IN THE NAME OF RELIGION AND WILL OF ALLAH.
      How narrow mentality and egoist and insecure u people are.

      The way u love your faith everyone loves there faith. YOU OR YOUR ALLAH HAS NO RIGHT TO HURT THERE SENTIMENTS.

      And for your good information, I must tell you that I have converted from islam to hinduism. The RELIGION is full OF TOLERANCE, TRUE VALUES AND PEACE and I follow LORD KRISHNA very deeply and to me my KRISHNA IS GREATEST.

      THANKKYOU!

      • South east asia have many muslim populated nations are developed and are in peace. There are nations even in west asia that are progressive and peaceful. Accepts hindu population and their practice. The real problem is with some other.

  14. One thing is for sure the Hardliners Islam definitly want to wipe out Non muslims. today England France Germany Australia are trapped .In India more than 5Lakhs of Kashmiri Hindus were driven out from Kashmir in 1990 within a Night.Accept islam or die.this is true.Now what should be done.In India there are impotent Hindus like jaichand who at times compromise their Motherland.For more than 1200 years it was for them only we wre slaves.Now in today s time Things are different.Solidarity will only work.Those who are unhappy in the Indian system should be shown the door.Snatch their cotizenship and very respectfully leave them out of the Indian borders.What is the problem.Why contradiction.

  15. This man is right wing islam, asking hindus to say nara e takbeer, akkahu akbar, wanting to break assam from India and Print journalist Fatima supports him. This man is reason for muslims to be called antinational playing into hands of Amit shah and BJP.

    • No doubt, that sharjil imam, is an intellectual person, with profound understanding of state appratus, its compulsions, yet , a singular understanding of mass movements,as he must have read history in depth, yet, his radical views, which someone calls right isalmism, is dangerous, for the seeds for dismemberment of any nation must have, intellectual, foundation, interpreted rightly or wrongly. Yet ,this is the beauty of our liberal constitution, that it gives space to every single,thought, for our constitution is based on premises of pluralistic society and culture. Therfore ,to say that one does not agree with supreme court judgement does not amount to sedition…But the talk of cutting off assam from rest of india, is a pray in dangerous direction……!this is the new challenge indians as a whole must understand..as to how to delegtimise logics of sepratists,in the making. Well ! Whether the videos are truncated by vested interests, is another question ,the law of the land will look into…yet one must dig deeper ,as to why certain educated members of society are feeling alienated, and using history and incidences,to come to conclusiin first and find facts later to justify their skewd views.

  16. Bihar produced many criminal with shelter of corrupt politician who gained thier goals .now a place of auwtar God is punishing the culprits.

  17. Most of the points that are made here are not factual but descriptive in nature. Like his mother said this, his friend Fatima said this. Now, obviously they will say such things to pacify others. But the fact is he did say the controversial things. So please, spare us this whitewashing of what he said.

  18. If an educated Muslim turns against the state and calls for its division, what hope do we have for the millions of uneducated Muslims? India must apply CAA and throw out all illegal people out.

    • when Prime minister and home minister openly lie and rest of the ministers deliver hate speech in public meetings.

      free hand is being given to sanghi bjp affiliate goons….

      And the country is in danger because of Muslims… WHAT A LOGIC…

  19. ”Imam has previously written about how he was the sole Muslim in a class of 200 undergraduates.” India has 20 percent Muslims.

  20. I m glad such comments r being taken seriously by govt. remember that idiot hardik patel cause do much damage. And what this guy was saying extremely dangerous.

  21. Sometimes when you are that intelligent and successful at everything you attempt. You start to believe that you are always correct and you know how world works and how it should work. Jameen pe utar diya duniya ne.

  22. The guy started secular, moved left and now advocates muslims for muslims type politics. In a few more years he would advocate for a separate caliphate with shariah as constitution. Yeah have heard this story before in 1947. Good attempt at whitewashing his journey though.

  23. Sharjeel Imam is not initial organizer of the protest at Shaheen Bagh.
    The protest at Shaheen Bagh is to protect the constitutional morality of this nation.
    No one individual’s videos, statements or articles can represent the movement as Shaheen Bagh official statement came.

  24. The Print on the path to paint another communal leftist as the most secular and most innocent person ever born i the country.

    Kudos to you 👍

  25. O*ama *in laden was also well qualified engineer. Na*al a*oorva anand termed his rant as childish. This jiha*i had been writing for na*al web wire. Hahahahaha. Stop defending jihadis.
    When will you mend li*randus.

  26. As far as this Islamic scholar concerned, and his thoughts of his wiseness of being well qualified concerned, this man seems to the next generation as a cruel teacher,some of may follow him and inspire by his intellectual, but at the end what is going to get him or his community where this JNU scholar belong,he is so weak,n very poor in his up bringing,he should understand actual life of his upbringing,what will happen mostly,there will be chaos,agitation,human killings,destruction,what more else going to happen,is he will be d most importantly,responsibly for muslim communities, for committed hate and doubt as a anti nationalist this is surely going to happen,and it’s happening since partition and many cruel steps llike mumbai bomb blast ,26/11,6 lakh Kashmiri Pandit genocide, and there r many more,though this country believes in tolerance,so forgotten for all,why this community tolerating such worst entity,who is not and won’t benefitted to piece of this country, if he has any core thoughts against our governance system,or want any special benifite to his religion should have come openly and forwarded their religious beliefs n thoughts,through due process of law of this country,he should have taken all his community in confidence may he and his community people think they dont want to stay,in this country,along with other community,or they feel that they want to convert all in Islam, that what he has,decorated in social media,hiding behind curtain,like master mind,if he or any body has guts he or she come out opened let this country know face of these hidders some good ,wise people must guide this saddist scholar,that mughal conquered,india not because they were brave,but were,starved, beggars,looters,dacoits, womeniser, rapist, kangal, so they conquered,small,poor kings and their kingdoms, and settele down, india was civilised,tolerated human beings,different religion,languages cast n creed happily living country never,conquered any state,as looters,this mughal learned and understand ,and shock of their lives after 3rd battle of panipat,war between Maratha and Abdali,after that no mughal got dare invade india in future, Marathathas, loves their country,Hindavi swaraj,dream of our shri chatrapati shivaji Maharaj,now they r very calm,n piece, so this Islamicfobiatic JNU scholer dare to do his hiding social anti national activity, this would not have possible any body during shivsena supremo, late Balasaheb Thakres tenure,country has only core problem,of kind of cruel dirty thinkers,like urban naxal,religious fascist,and opportunist politicalgroups,who support this ki d of saddiest mentality,

  27. No matter how much you try to glorify his personality, his inexcusable divisive mentality is not a one day phenomenon.. his brilliant mind has been charted towards negative thoughts for which his parents are to be solely blamed. China would be delighted to hear our own country men talking about strangling chicken neck and cutting off army supplies.

  28. Sarjeel Imam is a ISI agent. He is radicalized and want to cut India into pieces. He was apprehended by police before fleeing to Nepal.

  29. Really !! The guy is explicit in calling for Assam to be separated from India and all the writer can say is “ oh you don’t know him”

  30. The whole family might share the same beliefs of kafir hatred. The uncle is named aurangzeb, after a mass murderer of millions of Hindus, destroyer of temples whose state policy was annihilating of Hindus. People proudly flaunt names of mass murderers. Imagine proud hitlers roaming around Germany.

  31. India should not bear the weight of such anti-national people. The government should take strict action against tukde tukde gang.

  32. Sharjeel’s words may not be communal, but certainly could have been better chosen. Why talk about separating Assam from India ? That did not happen during even the worst of the Bodo agitations.
    Such stuff only gives a handle to the Govt to take coercive action. The Govt would also do well in avoiding the purely legal approach and undertake an outreach to such students to exchange views and convince them of a more moderate approach.

  33. Left is not Islamophobic. On the other hand, in India the Godless communists and Allah’s followers have always colluded. There is high degree of similarity between Communism and Islam. Both give entry, no exit. Historic dialectics takes the place of Allah. Marx, Engels and Lenin et al are the Caliphas of Communism. Both believe in violence as tool for spreading their tantacles. At least in India, communists have always colluded with Muslim fanatics starting with so called Moplah rebellion, with was a cruel riot against Hindus. In JNU, leftist leaning has been hijacked by Islamic radicals. Do you think Umar Khalid or Shehla Rashid are leftists. They are stark raving Islamists! There is unholy nexus between the left liberals and Islamic radicals. If anyone is Islamophobic, it is the common citizenry of India, who are affraid of riots, bombings, bullets, knives in the hands of Islamic radicals.

  34. Iqbal was brain behind Pakistan. His followers like this Sharjeel Imam thug want to break Assam off from India.
    Now print’s islamists are out in full force to defend him. They may even come up with nonsense like “Iqbal didn’t mean to create Pakistan”.

  35. No comments!
    Surprising.
    Looks like nobody reads your shi**y articles.

    Quick question by the way,
    Does adding the educational qualification, of this t****st in your article, help your cause?
    I guess not.
    Nobody gives a F**k, if he graduated from IIT or JNU.

  36. What a waste of talent. Could have been an entrepreneur and given jobs to Muslims and non-muslims. Instead chose the destructive way and using his brains in isolating one part of country from others, Never understood why Muslims are in same problem in every part of the world. Why are Muslims always unsatisfied everywhere. …Anyways get mentally prepared for this young boy to be shown as a hero by one side of media and villain by another side,
    Infinitely repeating story.

  37. I generally believed lack of modern education was one of the reasons for bigotry amongst the Muslims. I am shocked that someone who is an IIT grad doing PhD speaks such a bigoted language, thinks of truncating the parts of India. This clearly shows that the malady does not lie in education. In fact, education seems to amplify the bigotry. The problem is Islam, not Muslims. Islam preaches bigotry and narrowmindedness.

  38. Forget the thug Imam, it seems this writer Fatima Khan is equally dangerous and this article seems to be another cover up like report on terrorist burhan wani son of headmaster drama by an pseudo journos.

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