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 Punjab CM puts Khalsa College issue on hold

From Our Correspondent
The elevation of Amritsar's Khalsa College to a private university has been deferred by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal who said here on April 3 that the postponement is for “timeKhalsa College, Amritsar being”.

The postponement has been done, says sources, to ward off widespread criticism by the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union (PCCTU) and state-holders who allege that the move is aimed at grabbing of prime land owned by the Khalsa College. The college trust owns about 300 acres of prime land in Amritsar city.

Announcing the postponement the chief minister directed the Deputy Commissioner K S Pannu to intervene in the matter and to sort out the misunderstanding between teachers and the college management.

Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) President Amarinder Singh who has launched a tirade against the SAD-BJP government -- particularly the Badals -- warned against grabbing of Khalsa College land and converting the college into a private university.

In a statement issued here on April 3, Amarinder alleged that that this was a clear ploy by the Badals and the in-laws of Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal to grab the historic institution.

Asserting that the move is clearly aimed at grabbing the historic institution, he said the Khalsa Charitable Trust, running the college, had already inducted a lot of members from the Badal and Majithia families to have “absolute control over its functioning”. He also condemned the registration of criminal cases against the faculty members of the college, who were opposing the proposed conversion.

Meanwhile lauding Badal's announcement, the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union (PCCTU), which held its protest on the Lawrence Road decided to defer the proposed move to boycott university examinations.

Earlier, a teachers’ delegation met Badal, who was in the town for a programme. He clarified that the decision on the issue had been delayed for holding deliberations in the Cabinet. “We will hold discussions with Sikh scholars and all stakeholders before taking any step in this direction. No haphazard decision will be taken over this sensitive issue. For the time being, the decision has been postponed,” he said.

About the registration of cases and slapping of house vacation notices on some of the agitating teachers by the management, Badal said the Amritsar district magistrate had been asked to solve the matter amicably. “Interests of the teachers will be protected and no teacher will be forced to leave official houses allotted to them,” he said.

District Magistrate Pannu said he would inquire into the alleged complaints submitted by the Principals of Khalsa Society-run educational institutions and the grounds under which the teachers had been served house eviction  notices. “I will talk to representatives from both teachers as well as the management side before submitting my report to the government,” he said.

On the other hand, Dr Daljit Singh, Principal, Khalsa College, while showing the pictures of his forcible confinement by teachers, decried the undesirable and offensive words used by them.

The teachers, who have been booked in the case, have applied for an anticipatory bail and the district court has fixed April 8 as the next date of hearing in the matter.

Meanwhile, the PCCTU, at its meeting, resolved to launch ‘Save Khalsa College’ campaign by mobilising all the segments of society and stakeholders, including scholars, teachers, students, alumni, social workers, landowners and even political leaders.

Later, its PCCTU activists met Rural Development Minister Ranjit S Brahmpura and Education Minister SS Sekhwan.


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