Sunday, November 19, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Gurukul chief fights might of govt
Padma Shri Subashini on dharna against poll hooliganism
From K.G. Dutt
Tribune News Service

KHANPUR (Sonepat) Nov 18 — Ms Subashini, 87-year-old Padma Shri awardee and veteran freedom fighter, seems to have been forced to sit on dharna to save the valuable traditions of the gurukul education system.

Ms Subashini, whose dharna entered its seventh day today in the Yagshala of Khanpur Gurukul, is out to fight the might of the Chautala government with whatever strength is left in her in this old age.

In a choked voice, with tears in her eyes, she told TNS today that she had started this dharna to remove the ‘black spots’ from the face of Khanpur Gurukul. The spots, she said, had been left by the ‘bunglings and hooliganism’ perpetrated by INLD workers with help of the administration during the election of the president of the gurukul management. Sitting crosslegged on the ground in the Yagshala with the backdrop of a photograph of her father Bhagat Phool Singh, she recalled the last words uttered he in her ears in 1942 when he breathed his last. Bhagat Phool Singh had assigned the duty of promoting women’s education in the area and nurturing the tree of Khanpur Gurukul to his daughter.

She said the state government was out to strangulate this institution which was the only one of its type, providing gurukul education at such a large-scale in the country. After the death of her father, she has remained associated with Khanpur Gurukul and has been president of the Managing Committee or Mahapanchayat for the past 35 years.

She felt pained when on November 5 at a meeting of the Mahapanchayat, a section of the youth who had been brought up by her, indulged in hooliganism, broke the mike and danced in front of her. She maintained that she had nothing against the newly elected president, Mr Baljit Singh (42 years), whom she looked upon as her son. She was piqued over the way the age old traditions of the gurukul were broken and the fair name of the seat of learning blemished. That day itself, she decided to sit on dharna.

She stated that though she felt lonely in this fight against the powers of the administration, she would fight till her last breath.

She alleged that on the election day, Bhai Rishal Singh who was the ‘kulpati’ to conduct the Mahapanchayat, forgot his duty and everything was managed in a ‘pre-planned way’. She said a number of names, including those of Mr Baljit Singh, district president of the youth wing of the INLD, and Mr Ram Kumar were proposed. The moment the name of Mr Baljit Singh was proposed, his supporters started hooliganism and broke the mike. In this melee, without voting, he was declared elected as president unanimously.

Ms Subashini and her supporters claimed that later Mr Baljit Singh apologised in the Mahasabha and said he would not contest even for membership. His father Dharam Chand is also reported to have expressed regrets in the panchayat over the incident.

Ms Subashini’s three-year term as president ends on November 30. Challenging the election of Mr Baljit Singh, her supporters point out that under the constitution of Khanpur Gurukul, no one below the age of 50 years could fight the election. Besides, the candidate should be from the field of education and follow the principles of Arya Samaj. Mr Baljit Singh did not fulfil any of the conditions.

Mr Hawa Singh Arya of Khanpur and Mr Pardeep Singh Arya, President of the Ved Parchar Mandal (Sonepat district), while condemning the incidents, stated that they would not allow the gurukul principles to be violated.

Talking about the irregularities committed during the election, Mr Om Parkash Badal said he was ready to give an affidavit that he had visited the office of the SDM (Civil), Gohana, on November 8, 9 and 10 to demand forms for election nominations. But he was always put off with lame excuses.

Ms Subashini has called a meeting of the people of the area on November 19 to decide the future course of action.

Meanwhile, the district administration has imposed Section 144 CrPC, on the gurukul premises and on the 200-yard radius from it. The administration says that it would not allow any meeting on the gurukul premises. Ms Subashini could hold the meeting somewhere else, it said.

To prevent the collection of more people, a police Jeep along with five officials is being kept standing at the gates of the gurukul leading to the Yagshala. Entries of visitors are being made. The SDM (civil) and DSP (Gohana) both visited the gurukul around 12.30 p.m. today to ensure that passages to the gurukul were sealed to prevent the entry of Ms Subashini’s supporters. But, they did not visit the Yagshala to inquire about her health. She has been examined twice by doctors.

Both Swami Oma Nand Saraswati, president of the Arya Saravdeshik Sabha, and Swami Indervesh, former MP, had visited Ms Subashini. More than 300 persons from the area have been visiting her daily on the average to lend support to her cause.

Meanwhile, a deputation of elders from seven villages met Mr Om Prakash Chautala, Chief Minister, three days back in Delhi at the residence of Mr Devi Lal. The deputationists are reported to have brought to the notice of Mr Chautala that a general impression had been created in the area that the Chautala government was at the back of the bunglings in the election as Mr Baljit Singh was the INLD Youth President. They also told before Mr Chautala that the administration was backing Mr Baljit Singh. Mr Chautala is reported to have assured them that he had no inclination to interfere in the matter nor he had done so. He asked the elders either to go to the court or solve the tangle at the social level.

Mr Kitab Singh, former MLA, also told TNS in the gurukul that Mr Chautala had told him that the latter would not interfere in the matter. But a cross-section of people interviewed by this reporter alleged that Mr Baljit Singh enjoyed the patronage of Mr Ajay Chautala. The newly elected president whose house is situated in front of the gurukul was not at home when this reporter contacted his home at midday.

Neutral observers of the scene maintained that the crisis was the creation of a fight for supremacy, the money control of the gurukul, the leverage enjoyed during admissions and the prestige involved in running the institute.

Khanpur Gurukul has over 6,000 students on its rolls. Exclusively meant for women, more than 3,000 girls live in the hostel. It runs B.Ed. and ayurveda courses, a secondary school, JBT courses and a Mahavidyala. Its annual income is over Rs 3 crore and the government provides a grant of Rs 1 crore per annum.

Ms Subashini was conferred the Padma Shri for her services to the cause of women’s education.

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