Ghadar Party

The Ghadar Party (Punjabi: ਗ਼ਦਰ ਪਾਰਟੀ) was an Indian revolutionary organisation primarily founded by Punjabis.[1] The party was multi-ethnic and had Sikh, Hindu and Muslim leaders. The party was headquartered in San Francisco, United States. Key members included Bhai Parmanand, Sohan Singh Bhakna, Bhagwan Singh Gyanee,Har Dayal, Mohammad Iqbal Shedai, Kartar Singh Sarabha, Abdul Hafiz Mohamed Barakatullah, Sulaman Choudhary, Aamir Choudhary, Rashbehari Bose and Gulab Kaur.

After the outbreak of World War I, Ghadar party members returned to Punjab to agitate for rebellion alongside the Babbar Akali Movement. In 1915 they conducted revolutionary activities in central Punjab and organised uprisings. Their presence challenged the hold of the British Empire; police surveillance in Punjabi villages increased in an attempt to crush the rebellion. The party is known for setting the foundation for future Indian revolutionary movements and served as a stepping stone for independence. Though predominantly Sikh, the party included members and leaders of many religions, demonstrating an plularistic and democratic attitude towards all Indians.[1] After the conclusion of the war, the party in the United States was fractured into a Communist and an Anti-Communist faction. The party was formally dissolved in 1948.[1]

Ghadar Party
PresidentSohan Singh Bhakna
FounderSohan Singh Bhakna
Preceded byPacific Coast Hindustan Association
IdeologyIndian independence movement
ColoursRed, Saffron and Green


Ghadar is an Urdu word derived from Arabic which means "revolt" or "rebellion." As Kartar Singh Sarabha, one of the founders of the party, wrote in the first issue: "Today there begins 'Ghadar' in foreign lands, but in our country's tongue, a war against the British Raj. What is our name? Ghadar. What is our work? Ghadar. Where will be the Revolution? In India. The time will soon come when rifles and blood will take the place of pens and ink." The name of the organisation was primarily spelled "Gadar Party" or "Ghadr Party" by its members.


The economic downturn in India during the early twentieth century witnessed a high level of emigration. Some of these emigrants settled in North America. These included Punjabis as well as people from other parts of India. The Canadian government decided to curtail this influx with a series of laws, which were aimed at limiting the entry of South Asians into the country and restricting the political rights of those already in the country. The Punjabi community had hitherto been an important loyal force for the British Empire and the community had expected, equal welcome and rights from the British and Commonwealth governments as extended to British and white immigrants. These laws fed growing discontent, protests and anti-colonial sentiments within the community. Faced with increasingly difficult situations, the community began organising itself into political groups. A large number of Punjabis also moved to the United States, but they encountered similar political and social problems.[2]

RasBihari Bose on request from Vishnu Ganesh Pingle, an American trained Ghadar, who met Bose at Benares and requested him to take up the leadership of the coming revolution. But before accepting the responsibility, he sent Sachin Sanyal to the Punjab to assess the situation. Sachin returned very optimistic.,[1][3] in the United States and Canada with the aim to liberate India from British rule. The movement began with a group of immigrants known as the Hindustani Workers of the Pacific Coast.[1]

Ghadar di gunj
Ghadar di Gunj, an early Ghadarite compilation of nationalist and socialist literature, was banned in India in 1913.

The Ghadar Party, initially the Pacific Coast Hindustan Association, was formed in 1913 in the United States under the leadership of Har Dayal, Sant Baba Wasakha Singh Dadehar, Baba Jawala Singh, Santokh Singh and Sohan Singh Bhakna as its president. The members of the party were Indian immigrants, largely from Punjab.[2] Many of its members were students at University of California at Berkeley including Dayal, Tarak Nath Das, Maulavi Barkatullah, Harnam Singh Tundilat, Kartar Singh Sarabha and V.G. Pingle. The party quickly gained support from Indian expatriates, especially in the United States, Canada, East Africa and Asia.


Hindustan Ghadar article detailing arrest of Lala Hardayal (March 24, 1914)
Ghadar Newspaper (Urdu) Vol. 1, No. 22, March 24, 1914

The party was built around the weekly paper The Ghadar, which carried the caption on the masthead: Angrezi Raj Ka Dushman (an enemy of the British rule). "Wanted brave soldiers", the Ghadar declared, "to stir up rebellion in India. Pay-death; Price-martyrdom; Pension-liberty; Field of battle-India". The ideology of the party was strongly secular. In the words of Sohan Singh Bhakna, who later became a major peasant leader of the Punjab: "We were not Sikhs or Punjabis. Our religion was patriotism". The first issue of The Ghadar, was published from San Francisco on November 1, 1913.

Following the voyage of the Komagata Maru [Guru Nanak Jhaj] in 1914, a direct challenge to Canadian anti-Indian immigration laws, several thousand Indians resident in the United States sold their business and homes ready to drive the British from India. However, Hardayal had fled to Europe concerned that the US authorities would hand him over to the British. Sohan Singh Bhakna was already in British hands, and the leadership fell to Ram Chandra. Following the entry of Canada into World War I, the organisation was centred in the USA and received substantial funding from the German government. They had a very militant tone, as illustrated by this quote from Harnam Singh:

No pundits or mullahs do we need

The party rose to prominence in the second decade of the 20th century, and grew in strength owing to Indian discontent over World War I and the lack of political reforms.

Ghadar activists undertook what the British described as political terrorism. Ghadar activists were responsible for bombs planted on government property.

In 1917 some of their leaders were arrested and put on trial in the Hindu German Conspiracy Trial in which their paper was quoted.

In 1914, Kasi Ram Joshi a member of the party from Haryana, returned to India from America. On 15 March 1915 he hanged to death by the colonial rule.[4]

The Ghadar party commanded a loyal following the province of Punjab, but many of its most prominent activists were forced into exile to Canada and the United States. It ceased to play an active role in Indian politics after 1919. The party had active members in other countries such as Mexico, Japan, China, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, Malaya, Indo-China and Eastern and Southern Africa.

Founding members

  1. Sohan Singh Bhakna (President)
  2. Kesar Singh (Vice-President)
  3. Kartar Singh Sarabha (Editor, Punjabi Gadar)
  4. Baba Jawala Singh (Vice-President)
  5. Sant Baba Wasakha Singh Dadehar
  6. Bhagwan Singh Gyanee
  7. Balwant Singh (Ghadarite)
  8. Pt. Kanshi Ram (Treasurer)
  9. Harnam Singh Tundilat
  10. G. D. Verma
  11. Lala Thaker Das (Dhuri) (Vice Secretary)
  12. Munshi Ram (Organizing Secretary)
  13. Bhai Parmanand
  14. Nidhan Singh Chugha
  15. Santokh Singh (Ghadarite)
  16. Master Udham Singh
  17. Baba Chattar Singh Ahluwalia (Jethuwal)
  18. Baba Harnam Singh (Kari Sari)
  19. Mangu Ram Mugowalia[5][6]
  20. Karim Bakhsh
  21. Amar Chand
  22. Rehmat Ali (Ghadarite)
  23. V. G. Pingle
  24. Sant Baba Wasakha Singh
  25. Maulavi Barkatullah
  26. Harnam Singh Saini
  27. Tarak Nath Das
  28. Pandurang Sadashiv Khankhoje
  29. Ganda Singh Phangureh
  30. Bhai Randhir Singh
  31. Karim Bux
  32. Baba Prithvi Singh Azad
  33. Wadhawa singh warwal & sons (Rana singh & Bhana singh)

In popular media

A character in the World War II thriller The Tenth Unknown by author Jvalant Nalin Sampat is a member of the Ghadar Party and is involved in the Ghadar Mutiny.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e "Ghadr (Sikh political organization)". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 18 September 2010.
  2. ^ a b Strachan 2001, p. 795
  3. ^
  4. ^ Haryana Samvad, Jan 2018.
  5. ^ "Manguram Muggowal, a former Ghadar Party member, later joined the Dalit [the proper term for so-called untouchables] emancipation movement". Georgia Straight Vancouver's News & Entertainment Weekly. 26 July 2013. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  6. ^ "There were not many Scheduled Caste persons in the Ghadar movement, however; Mangoo Ram recalls only one other Chamar besides himself".
  • Strachan, Hew (2001), The First World War. Volume I: To Arms, Oxford University Press. USA, ISBN 0-19-926191-1.

Further reading

Ajmer Singh - Gadari Babe Kaun San -

External links

Annie Larsen affair

The Annie Larsen affair was a gun-running plot in the United States during World War I. The plot, involving India's Ghadar Party, the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the German Foreign office, was a part of the larger so-called "Hindu–German Conspiracy", and it was the prime offence cited in the 1917 Hindu–German Conspiracy Trial, described at the time as the longest and most expensive trial in American legal history.

Bhagwan Singh Gyanee

Bhai Bhagwan Singh Gyanee was an Indian Nationalist and a leading luminary of the Ghadar Party. Elected the party president in 1914, he was extensively involved in the Ghadar Conspiracy of 1915 during World War I and in the aftermath of its failure fled to Japan. He is also known for his nationalist poems that were published in the Hindustan Ghadar and later in the compilation Ghadar di Gunj.

Bhai Parmanand

Bhai Parmanand (4 November 1876 – 8 December 1947) was an Indian nationalist and a prominent leader of the Hindu Mahasabha.

Communist Ghadar Party of India

The Communist Ghadar Party of India is a far-left political party that is committed to a revolution in India based on Marxism-Leninism and Hoxhaism.

Ghadar Mutiny

The Ghadar Mutiny (: ग़दर राज्य-क्रान्ति, غدر ریاست - کرانتی Ġadara Rājya-krānti), also known as the Ghadar Conspiracy, was a plan to initiate a pan-Indian mutiny in the British Indian Army in February 1915 to end the British Raj in India. The plot originated at the onset of the First World War, between the Ghadar Party in the United States, the Berlin Committee in Germany, the Indian revolutionary underground in British India and the German Foreign Office through the consulate in San Francisco. The incident derives its name from the North American Ghadar Party, whose members of the Punjabi Sikh community in Canada and United States were among the most prominent participants in the plan. It was the most prominent amongst a number of plans of the much larger Hindu–German Mutiny, formulated between 1914 and 1917 to initiate a Pan-Indian rebellion against the British Raj during World War I. The mutiny was planned to start in the key state of Punjab, followed by mutinies in Bengal and rest of India. Indian units as far as Singapore were planned to participate in the rebellion. The plans were thwarted through a coordinated intelligence and police response. British intelligence infiltrated the Ghadarite movement in Canada and in India, and last minute intelligence from a spy helping to crush the planned uprising in Punjab before it started. Key figures were arrested, mutinies in smaller units and garrisons within India were also crushed.

Intelligence about the threat of the mutiny led to a number of important war-time measures introduced in India, including the passages of Ingress into India Ordinance, 1914, the Foreigners act 1914, and the Defence of India Act 1915. The conspiracy was followed by the First Lahore Conspiracy Trial and Benares Conspiracy Trial which saw death sentences awarded to a number of Indian revolutionaries, and exile to a number of others. After the end of the war, fear of a second Ghadarite uprising led to the recommendations of the Rowlatt Acts and thence the Jallianwallah Bagh Massacre.

Ghadar di gunj

Ghadar di Gunj (Punjabi: ਗ਼ਦਰ ਦੀ ਗੂੰਜ, غدر دی گنج, translation: Echoes of Mutiny) is a compilation of nationalist and socialist literature that was produced in the early stages of the Ghadar movement.

Published by the Hindustan Ghadar press in the Ghadar weekly from San Francisco in 1913-14, the literature consists of a collection of songs and poems in Gurumukhi and Shahmukhi and covered addressed the political situation in India. Pamphlets titles Ghadar di Goonj and Talwar were also produced at this time for circulation in India. These were deemed sedetionist publications by the British Indian government and banned from publication and circulation in India.

Giani Pritam Singh Dhillon

Giani Pritam Singh Dhillon was an Indian freedom fighter and Sikh missionary who, as a member of the Ghadar Party, was instrumental in the planning of the failed 1915 Ghadar conspiracy in the British Indian Army. Giani Pritam Singh Dhillon was a close friend of Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon, famous Sikh Indian independence movement leader and prominent member of the Indian National Army. He was also close associate of Subhas Chandra Bose. Pritam Singh is also remembered for reviving the same idea during World War II by seeking Japanese support in the establishment of what came to be the Indian National Army. Pritam Singh died in a plane crash in 1942.

Herambalal Gupta

Heramba Lal Gupta was an Indian Nationalist linked to the Berlin Committee and the Ghadar Party extensively involved in the Hindu–German Conspiracy, who later turned a British agent and passed in intelligence on Mahendra Pratap's Kabul Government.

At the outbreak of World War I, Gupta was in Germany as member of the Berlin Committee, which within a short time established contacts with the Ghadar Party in the United States in what came to be called the Hindu–German Conspiracy. Efforts had begun as early as 1911 to procure arms and smuggle them into India. When a clear idea of the conspiracy emerged, more earnest and elaborate plans were made to obtain arms and to enlist international support. After the failure of the SS Korea mission, Herambalal Gupta took over the leadership of American wing of the conspiracy and began efforts to obtain men and arms. While the former resource was in plentiful supply with more and more Indians coming forward to join the Ghadarite cause, obtaining arms for the uprising proved to be more difficult.The revolutionaries started negotiations with the Chinese government through James Dietrich, who held Sun Yat-sen's power of attorney, to buy a million rifles. However, the deal fell through when it was realised that the weapons offered were obsolete flintlocks and muzzle loaders. From China, Gupta went to Japan to try to procure arms and to enlist Japanese support for the Indian independence movement. However, he was forced into hiding within 48 hours when he came to know that the Japanese had planned to hand him over to the British. Later reports indicated he was protected at this time by Tōyama Mitsuru.The ascent of Li Yuanhong to the Chinese Presidency in 1916 led to the negotiations reopening through his former private secretary who resided in the United States at the time. In exchange for allowing arms shipments to India via China's borders, China was offered German military assistance and the rights to 10% of any material shipped to India via China. The negotiations were ultimately unsuccessful due to Sun Yat Sen's opposition to an alliance with Germany.Gupta is believed to have later met with Mahendra Pratap's Provisional Government of India in Kabul, but he defected in 1918 and turned over his intelligence to British Indian police.

Hindustan Ghadar

The Hindustan Ghadar (Hindi: हिन्दुस्तान ग़दर, Punjabi: ਹਿੰਦੁਸਤਾਨ ਗ਼ਦਰ, Urdu: ہِندُوستان غدر) was a weekly publication that was the party organ of the Ghadar Party. It was published under the auspices of the Yugantar Ashram (Advent of a New Age Ashram) in San Francisco. Its purpose was to further the militant nationalist faction of the Indian independence movement, especially amongst Indian sepoys of the British Indian Army.

In 1912–1913, the Pacific Coast Hindustan Association was formed by Indian immigrants under the leadership of Har Dayal, with Sohan Singh Bhakna as its president, which later came to be called the Ghadar Party. With donations raised with the help of the Indian diaspora, especially with the aid of Indian students at the University of California, Berkeley, the party established the Yugantar Ashram at 436 Hill Street where a printing press was set up with the donations. The first Urdu edition of Hindustan Ghadar appeared on 1 November 1913, followed by a Punjabi edition 9 December 1913.

The issues were first handwritten before being printed on the press. Careful measures were taken to shield the party and its supporters from British intelligence, which included the measure of memorising over a thousand names of the subscribers so that no incriminating evidence could fall into the hands of the British government.

The articles in the paper were initially authored by Har Dayal, with the printing operation run by Kartar Singh Sarabha, then a student of UC Berkeley. Copies of the paper began to be shipped to India with returning Ghadarites and immigrants, and were quickly deemed to be seditious and banned by the British Indian government. Later publications from the Yugantar Ashram included compilations of nationalist compositions and pamphlets, including Ghadar di gunj, Talwar and other publications which were also banned from British India.

Hindu–German Conspiracy

The Hindu–German Conspiracy(Note on the name) was a series of plans between 1914 and 1917 by Indian nationalist groups to attempt Pan-Indian rebellion against the British Raj during World War I, formulated between the Indian revolutionary underground and exiled or self-exiled nationalists who formed, in the United States, the Ghadar Party, and in Germany, the Indian independence committee, in the decade preceding the Great War. The conspiracy was drawn up at the beginning of the war, with extensive support from the German Foreign Office, the German consulate in San Francisco, as well as some support from Ottoman Turkey and the Irish republican movement. The most prominent plan attempted to foment unrest and trigger a Pan-Indian mutiny in the British Indian Army from Punjab to Singapore. This plot was planned to be executed in February 1915 with the aim of overthrowing British rule over the Indian subcontinent. The February mutiny was ultimately thwarted when British intelligence infiltrated the Ghadarite movement and arrested key figures. Mutinies in smaller units and garrisons within India were also crushed.

Other related events include the 1915 Singapore Mutiny, the Annie Larsen arms plot, the Jugantar–German plot, the German mission to Kabul, the mutiny of the Connaught Rangers in India, as well as, by some accounts, the Black Tom explosion in 1916. Parts of the conspiracy included efforts to subvert the British Indian Army in the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I.

The Indo-German alliance and the conspiracy were the target of a worldwide British intelligence effort, which was successful in preventing further attempts. American intelligence agencies arrested key figures in the aftermath of the Annie Larsen affair in 1917. The conspiracy resulted in the Lahore conspiracy case trials in India as well as the Hindu–German Conspiracy Trial—at the time the longest and most expensive trial ever held in the United States.This series of events was consequential to the Indian independence movement. Though largely subdued by the end of World War I, it came to be a major factor in reforming the Raj's Indian policy. Similar efforts were made during World War II in Germany and in Japanese-controlled Southeast Asia, where Subhas Chandra Bose formed the Indische Legion and the Indian National Army respectively, and in Italy where Mohammad Iqbal Shedai formed the Battaglione Azad Hindoustan.

Hindu–German Conspiracy Trial

The Hindu–German Conspiracy Trial commenced in the District Court in San Francisco on November 12, 1917 following the uncovering of the Hindu–German Conspiracy (also known as the Indo German plot) for initiating a revolt in India. It was part of a wave of such incidents which took place in the United States after America's entrance into World War I.

In May 1917, eight Indian nationalists of the Ghadar Party were indicted by a federal grand jury on a charge of conspiracy to form a military enterprise against the United Kingdom. The trial lasted from November 20, 1917 to April 24, 1918. The British authorities hoped that the conviction of the Indians would result in their deportation from the United States back to India. However, strong public support in favor of the Indians meant that the U.S. Department of Justice chose not to do so.

Kartar Singh Sarabha

Kartar Singh Sarabha (24 May 1896 – 16 November 1915) was a Sikh revolutionary who was among the most famous and reputed martyrs of Punjab. He was 17 years old when he became a member of Ghadar Party, then came up as a leading luminary member and started fight for an independent India. He was one of the most active members of the movement. Singh was executed at Lahore in November 1915 for his role in the movement in February 1915 when he was merely 19 years old.

Pandit Kanshi Ram

Pandit Kanshi Ram was an Indian revolutionary who, along with Har Dayal and Sohan Singh Bhakna was one of the three key members in founding the Ghadar Party. He served as the treasurer of the party from its foundation in 1913 to 1914. In 1914 Kanshi Ram returned to India as a part of the Indo-German Conspiracy (Ghadar Conspiracy) which attempted to trigger mutinies in the British Indian Army during World War I. He was arrested in the aftermath of the failed February plot and later tried in the Lahore conspiracy trial. Pandit Kanshi Ram was charged along with Kartar Singh Sarabha and Vishnu Ganesh Pingle on 27 March 1915.

Pandurang Sadashiv Khankhoje

Pandurang Sadashiv Khankhoje (7 November 1884 – 22 January 1967) was an Indian revolutionary, scholar, agricultural scientist and historian who was among the founding fathers of the Ghadar Party.

Khankhoje was born in November 1884 to a Marathi family at Wardha, where his father worked as a petition-writer. Young Khankhoje spent his childhood in Wardha, where he completed his primary and middle school education before moving to Nagpur for higher education. He was at the time inspired by the nationalist work of Bal Gangadhar Tilak. At some time in the first decade of the 1900s, Khankhoje left India on a voyage that ultimately saw him settle in the United States. Here he enrolled in the Washington State College (now called Washington State University), graduating in 1913. His earliest nationalist work abroad dates back to the time around 1908 when he, along with Pandit Kanshi Ram founded the Indian Independence League in Portland, Oregon. His works also brought him close to other Indian nationalists in United States at the time, including Tarak Nath Das. In the years preceding World War I, Khankhoje was one of the founding members of the Pacific coast Hindustan association, and subsequently founded the Ghadar Party. He was at the time one of the most influential members of the party. He met Lala Har Dayal in 1911. He also enrolled at one point in a West Coast military academy.

Through World War I, Khankhoje was intricately involved in the Hindu–German Conspiracy when he was involved in the plans for the mutiny. He visited Europe during the war and subsequently went to Mesopotamia along with other members of what was the Berlin Committee. In the summer of 1915, he worked clandestinely among roops of the Indian expeditionary force, spreading nationalist literature and hoping to incite a mutiny. Through the course of the war, Khankhoje made his way through Turkey and Persia under different Muslim guises as far as Baluchistan, spreading Ghadarite propaganda en route. He is known to have attempted insurrections and raised at the Iran-Baluchistan border while Mahendra Pratap's Indo-German expedition attempted to rally the Afghan Emir Habibullah Khan against British India. Towards the end of the war, Khankhoje, like most of the members of the Berlin committee, began turing towards communism. He is known to have been in Soviet Union in company of the earliest Indian communist, including Virendranath Chattopadhyaya, M. P. T. Acharya, M. N. Roy, Abdur Rab Barq. He met Lenin at Moscow in 1921. For his nationalist work at the time, Khankoje was banned from returning to India as a highly dangerous individual.

Khankhoje later moved to Mexico in the 1920s, where he was instated the professor of Botany and Crop Breeding in the National School of Agriculture in Mexico. In 1936, Khankhoje married Jean Alexandrine Sindic, a Belgian women in Mexico by whom he had two daughters. He led the Mexican corn breeding program and was appointed director to the Mexican Government's department of Agriculture. Both Pandurang and Jean returned to India after 1947. His application for visa was initially rejected by the Indian government due to the ban by the British Indian Government, but was eventually overturned. He settled in Nagpur and subsequently embarked on a political career. Pandurang Khankhoje died on 22 January 1967.

Ram Chandra Bharadwaj

Ram Chandra Bharadwaj, also known as Pandit Ram Chandra was the president of the Ghadar Party between 1914 and 1917. As a member of the Ghadar Party, Ram Chandra was also one of the founding editors of the Hindustan Ghadar and a key leader of the party in its role in the Indo-German Conspiracy. He assumed the role of the president of the party following Lala Har Dayal's departure for Switzerland in 1914 and, along with Bhagwan Singh and Maulvi Mohammed Barkatullah, was key in rallying the support of the South Asian community in the Pacific Coast in the wake of the Komagata Maru incident for the planned February mutiny.

Ram Chandra was assassinated on 24 April 1918 on the last day of the Hindu–German Conspiracy Trial by Ram Singh, a fellow defendant who believed that Ram Chandra was a British agent.

SS Maverick

SS Maverick was an oil tanker built in 1890 for the Standard Oil of New York, later Mobil Oil. After the ship had changed hands sometime between 1910 and 1915, it was used during World War I as part of the Hindu–German Conspiracy to foment rebellion in India and overthrow the British Raj. According to one source, the ship sank in 1917.

Sohan Singh Bhakna

Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna(1870–1968) was an Indian revolutionary, the founding president of the Ghadar Party, and a leading member of the party involved in the Ghadar Conspiracy of 1915. Tried at the Lahore Conspiracy trial, Sohan Singh served sixteen years of a life sentence for his part in the conspiracy before he was released in 1930. He later worked closely with the Indian labour movement, devoting considerable time to the Kisan Sabha and the Communist Party of India.

Tarak Nath Das

Taraknath Das (or Tarak Nath Das) (Bengali: তারকনাথ দাস) (15 June 1884 – 22 December 1958) was an anti-British Bengali Indian revolutionary and internationalist scholar. He was a pioneering immigrant in the west coast of North America and discussed his plans with Tolstoy, while organising the Asian Indian immigrants in favour of the Indian independence movement. He was a professor of political science at Columbia University and a visiting faculty in several other universities.

Vishnu Ganesh Pingle

Vishnu Ganesh Pingle was an Indian revolutionary and a member of the Ghadar Party who was one of those executed in 1915 following the Lahore conspiracy trial for his role in the Ghadar conspiracy.

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