SGPC chief forms audit committees to look into expenditure
Suspended VC Ahluwalia calls for CBI probe into appointments by Makkar
Jangveer Singh & Perneet Singh, Tribune News Service
Chandigarh/Amritsar, August 3. More dirty linen is set to be washed in public with SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar managing to gain control of Sri Guru Granth Sahib World University at Fatehgarh Sahib by suspending its Vice-Chancellor Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia.
Ahluwalia has accused Makkar of being responsible for 92 allegedly illegal appointments, including that of his grandson.
Speaking to The Tribune, Ahluwalia demanded a CBI inquiry to probe the allegations that he had levelled on Makkar and also to look into the counter-allegations by the SGPC president.
The suspended VC is set to become more strident in the days to come, saying he had an “atom bomb up his sleeve which, if released, would make it difficult for Makkar to remain in office”. The “atom bomb” refers to an “objectionable action” committed by Makkar.
For his part, Makkar today announced the SGPC had hired two private companies to conduct an audit of the expenditure during Ahluwalia’s tenure as VC. One team would probe the construction work quality and the other the financial aspects. They would submit their reports within a week. “Everything will become clear once the reports are out,” he said.
Sources, however, said much of what Ahluwalia was claiming could be posturing on his part after being unceremoniously shunted out both from the university as well as the Trust that runs it. Ahluwalia had complete control over the university since its inception in 2008. However, things changed after he was hospitalised following a bullet injury on August 1, 2011.
Apart from controlling the university, the point of contention is the 92 appointments done when Ahluwalia was in hospital.
The then officiating VC, Dr Gurnek Singh, said the appointments were on an ad hoc basis as they needed to be made immediately. He said due procedure could have been followed when services of the appointees were to be regularised.
Makkar, it is learnt, had a full say in these recruitments. After again taking charge of the university in January, Ahluwalia prevailed upon the syndicate on March 30 to inquire into the procedure under which these appointments had been made. This set the scene for a clash between Makkar and Ahluwalia.
Ahluwalia, it is learnt, had been successful in getting his way earlier because of his proximity to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. He had ruled the roost earlier as well when he was the VC of Punjabi University, Patiala. That, despite the fact that charges of moral turpitude were levelled against him, though he was subsequently acquitted in the case. But, Ahluwalia was not second-time lucky. He alleged that Makkar had conspired to remove him when the Chief Minister was out of the state and scheduled to go abroad.
His claim, however, came under question as before being removed from the Trust on July 24, Ahluwalia was asked by a former chief secretary to put in his papers, it is learnt. This could not have happened without Badal being kept in the loop.
Sources said the CM had attributed his support for Ahluwalia to his qualifications and expertise in academics.
Ahluwalia also claims that Makkar had insulted him on the day when the foundation stone of the university was laid in 2008.
Sources said it was Ahluwalia’s “autocratic” style of functioning that did him in. It is learnt that when the university came into being, several sub-committees comprising the Trust members were formed to look into issues like expenditure, construction and salaries but the VC reportedly bypassed them all.
Makkar also echoed the charge, alleging Ahluwalia “never” took the Trust into confidence while taking any university related decision. Sources said most of the Trust members had also raised objections over Ahluwalia’s functioning.
Makkar today called a press conference in Amritsar where he alleged that the suspended VC did not initiate any measures to get UGC (University Grants Commission) recognition for the university.
He alleged that Ahluwalia had hired private security guards for himself who were being paid Rs 4 lakh a month. This, in addition to the security that had been provided to him by the state government. Ahluwalia’s suspension and its consequent war of words between him and Makkar has prompted many to question his appointment to the key post. Noted Sikh scholar Bhai Ashok Singh Bagrian said it was “shameful” that the first VC of the university, named after Guru Granth Sahib, had to be suspended. He said the sequence of events also raised a question mark over the functioning of those who were managing the university affairs and were responsible for appointing Ahluwalia. (With inputs from Sanjay Bumbroo in Fatehgarh Sahib)