The Punjab government’s high-powered committee has finally given the go-ahead to a proposal for setting up Khalsa University on the iconic Khalsa College campus at Amritsar, sources have told HT.
The committee, headed by chief secretary Sarvesh Kaushal, on Wednesday mulled over the 350-page case mooted by the Khalsa College Governing Council (KCGC), and found that it met every essential criteria for establishing a private university, it is learnt.
Present in the meeting were vice-chancellors of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, and Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar; besides representatives of Panjab University, Chandigarh, and University Grants Commission (UGC), Delhi.
Now, the panel’s report will be put up for chief minister Parkash Singh Badal’s formal nod. Thereafter, the government will issue a letter of intent to the KCGC which is headed by Satyajit Singh Majithia, father of Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Punjab revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia.
Five years ago, the KCGC move had run into the roadblock of protests from some Sikh groups who apprehended that the university would dilute the heritage status of the 123-year-old Khalsa College. At that time, the Badal-led Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) government had shelved the move. Lately, however, KCGC revived the proposal and pushed it again barely nine months before the second term of the Badal government expires and polls get due.
But, the government’s green signal is likely to trigger a political row in the wake of strident opposition by Amritsar MP and Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh who has threatened to stage a dharna on the college campus to block the university.
Last week when HT first reported on the government’s fresh move to clear the file on Khalsa University, Amarinder had been quick to renew his threat. He had even gone a step further, saying, “We will rescind this decision if the Congress comes to power in Punjab next year .”
Amarinder, whose royal ancestors had contributed generously to the creation of Khalsa College, accuses the Majithias of having “vested business interests” in setting up the university — an allegation trashed by Satyajit Majithia. The university will come up on the 330-acre premises that house the college building.