Chandigarh, April 19 (IANS) The Punjab Cabinet on Wednesday decided to scrap a controversial law passed by the earlier SAD-BJP government to facilitate the setting up of a new university on the Khalsa College campus in Amritsar.
The cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh decided to scrap the Khalsa University Act, 2016, in order to “save the historic 125-year-old Khalsa College from losing its heritage status by falling prey to privatisation”.
Amarinder Singh had earlier promised to protect the heritage status of the Khalsa College at Amritsar, one of the oldest educational institutions in the country.
The Khalsa University at Amritsar was established vide the Khalsa University Act, 2016, despite huge criticism from not only city residents but also college alumni and intellectuals, the cabinet noted.
A government spokesperson said the cabinet dubbed as “appalling” the move by the Khalsa College Society to “destroy its rich heritage status by converting this prestigious institution into a university”.
The cabinet decided there was no point in establishing an additional university in Amritsar, which already had several reputed institutions of higher learning.
These include the Guru Nanak Dev University, Sri Guru Ram Dass University of Health Sciences, and the Indian Institute of Management.
The previous Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP government had approved the act, paving the way for setting up the new private university.
The Khalsa College management is dominated by the Majitha family, to which former Punjab Cabinet Minister Bikram Singh Majithia and her elder sister and Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Badal belong. Harsimrat is the wife of former Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.
The cabinet expressed concern that “taking away a chunk of land from the Khalsa College to set up the university will adversely affect the former’s existence”.
It also said that the unique identity of the Khalsa College building will also be diminished if the university was allowed to be set up there.