In February last year when Captain Amarinder Singh had stormed the campus of the Khalsa College in Amritsar, he had promised to scrap any law that tinkered with the heritage status of the 125-year-old institution. On returning to power in Punjab, Amarinder as chief minister has decided to do what he promised. The September-2016 legislation — making the Khalsa College a private university —passed by the Punjab assembly when the SAD-BJP government was in power will be scrapped.
“What was promised will be done. We will scrap the law that made it a private university,” Amarinder told HT. Behind his move is an ongoing power struggle between the two political families of Punjab — former Patiala royals and the Majithias — who are also bound together through matrimonial alliances. The Majithias had staged a coup by taking control of the college management when the Akalis were in power and former deputy CM Sukhbir Badal’s fatherin-law Satyajit Majithia became the head of the Khalsa College governing council.
Its control was earlier with Amarinder’s family which had also made generous grants for the college. His grandfather Bhupinder Singh and later his father Yadwinder Singh were its chancellors from 1927 to 1952. Later, Amarinder was its chancellor from 1972 to 1978.
Claiming that it was not a private property of the Majithias, Amarinder had warned against undermining the Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) and asked officials to review the Khalsa University file.
Amritsar MP Gurjit Singh Aujla on Monday also joined the issue and called for scrapping the legislation. “It needs to be done in the interest of students and teachers. The act has diluted its heritage status. It cannot be allowed to fall prey to the greed of a select few,” Aujla told HT
He also slammed Khalsa college governing council honorary secretary Rajinder Mohan Singh Chhina who had contested against him in the recent Amritsar Lok Sabha bypoll after the seat had fallen vacant following Amarinder’s resignation as MP over the November SYL verdict of the Supreme Court. “Like GNDU’s former vice-chancellor AS Brar, who was accused of various scams during in tenure, Chhina played a pivotal role in setting up Khalsa university,” Aujla said.
Chhina, in a recent statement, had tried to buy peace with the new government. He had said the Khalsa University is currently providing education to more than 300 students and has the capability to run the university successfully. Dubbing Amarinder as a visionary administrator, Chinna had said he would decide on the matter wisely.
Aujla said students and teachers have met him and they are not happy being under a private university. “The students from rural areas are objecting to paying more fees and they also want their college to be affiliated to GNDU and not Khalsa University,” he said.