The Tribune – Dalit who raised voice against fund misuse now fears for life

He was fired from job four years ago

Parvesh Sharma, Tribune News Service

Sangrur, 14 May 2017. Justice comes at a cost and 42-year-old Dalit labourer Sarbjit Singh knows it well. His temporary service as helper under the incharge of the Persons-with-Disabilities scheme at Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology (SLIET), Longowal, was terminated in 2013.

He lost his job after he raised his voice against the alleged misuse of funds meant for persons with disabilities. Then, he procured information through the RTI Act and wrote to many authorities, but justice continues to elude him.

Fearing that their “wrongs” would be exposed, SLIET authorities are allegedly threatening Sarbjit with dire consequences. But he has refused to compromise.

With a bag of documents that Sarbjit has procured under the RTI Act, he has been visiting various villages of the district to trace the students whose money has been misused.

“Despite having grants, SLIET authorities did not give financial aid to enrolled persons-with-disabilities students for vocational courses under the scheme from 2007 to 2015. The authorities should pay Rs 5,700 to each student.

I have detailed information that lakhs have been misappropriated by the authorities concerned. My services were terminated in 2013 after I raised my voice against it,” said Sarbjit.

He has written to SSP Sangrur for action against SLIET employees.

He alleged that on his complaint to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in August 2016, SLIET authorities, despite having the grant, gave wrong information to the PMO that a large number of students were waiting for the grant as funds were not available.

“First, they offered me money. When I refused, they started threatening me. These days, I am being pressured to withdraw my complaints. I fear that I may be killed and SLIET authorities will be responsible for it,” he said.

Today, he was in Sangrur to board a bus to New Delhi to meet authorities of the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

The scheme for integrating persons with disabilities in the mainstream of technical and vocational education was launched in 1999-2000 with an objective to upgrade the skills of physically challenged persons.

Mahesh Arora, incharge of PWD scheme, SLIET, has denied the allegations. “No one is issuing threats from our side. It is a baseless allegation”, said Arora.

SHO Longowal Jugraj Singh confirmed that Sarbjit has lodged a complaint and said that he would look into it.


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