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Gian Sagar crisis: Duped PACL investors protest over attachment of college properties

The investors were duped by the 45,000 crore scam hit Pearl Agrotech Corporation Limited (PACL), whose main founder Nirmal Singh Bhangoo set up the college.

punjab Updated: Apr 24, 2017 23:16 IST
Vivek Gupta
Vivek Gupta
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Gian Sagar,Nirmal Singh Bhangoo,Pearl Agrotech Corporation Limited
Members of ‘Insaaf Di Awaaz’ holding a protest against PACL and Gain Sagar management in Patiala on Monday.(Bharat Bhushan/HT Photo)

The crisis at Banur-based Gian Sagar Medical College and Hospital reached its tipping point on Monday as hundreds of investors staged a protest against the college’s takeover by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Swarn Salaria. They blocked Chandigarh-Patiala highway at 10 am, forcing the police to divert traffic through Mohali and Ambala.

The investors were duped by the Rs 45,000-crore scam-hit Pearls Agrotech Corporation Limited (PACL), whose main founder Nirmal Singh Bhangoo set up the college.

President of ‘Insaaf Di Awaaz’ organisation (a body representing duped investors from the region) said every brick of the college was funded by the PACL and hence, they will not let the college be taken over by any third party.

He said Supreme Court in August last year ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to attach all properties of the PACL and transfer it to justice RM Lodha-led committee so that it could liquidate them and pay back lakhs of innocent investors.

“However, several of Bhangoo’s properties including the college were not yet attached, despite the fact that there were several evidences to prove that the college was set up from PACL funds. It was later handed over to a charitable trust, whose chairman was Bhangoo’s son and later to his daughters,” he said.

“How can Bhangoo’s family claim that the college’s huge 100 acre campus came up on people’s donation? This is our own money. We request Punjab government to help in attaching the college properties to justice Lodha committee along with other unaccounted properties so that investors can be compensated,” said forum’s general secretary Mandeep Singh.

Legal advisor Chander Shekhar said valuation of the PACL properties laying so far with Lodha committee is not more than 11,000 crore, which is not sufficient to compensate over 25 lakh investors. “The investigating agencies probing the matter seemed to have deliberately left several properties owned by Bhangoo’s close aides and family members in violation of the SC orders, and we will not let it happen,” he said.

He said valuation of the college property is not less than Rs 1,000 crore. “We will not allow anyone to take over the college. As far as students are concerned, Punjab government should shift them to other colleges at the earliest,” said Shekhar.

Punjab govt sleeping over the matter

Over a week after a high-level meeting convened under chief minister Amarinder Singh decided to shut down the college, the government is yet to trigger the process by issuing a show cause notice, even as faculty and students are waiting for a possible solution to the prevailing crisis.

Sources said the government’s possible delay in triggering closure hinted that the management under Salaria might revive the college. But he has failed to improve the situation at any level, despite his promise to clear part of pending dues of faculty before April 23, which did not happen.

The situation is turning more tense now as college principal Dr Krishan Vij and senior faculty Dr AS Grover, Dr Jai Krishan and Dr Gurvinder Pal resigned from their post on Sunday.

The revival has become even difficult now after the investors began their agitation over the college’s takeover.

A faculty said the institution can only be saved if the government takes over the college as it is now almost impossible to be run under private management in the light of PACL investors starting their own movement for the attachment of college properties.

First Published: Apr 24, 2017 15:40 IST