M A I N   N E W S

Book scam: Badal chooses Maluka over Pannu
Officer posted as Secretary, Agriculture, Punjab
Jangveer Singh/TNS

Chandigarh, July 22
The Punjab Government today transferred Director General of School Education (DGSE) Kahan Singh Pannu, who is said to have blown the lid off the scam involving selection of certain companies for supply of library books and science kits by a committee formed by Education Minister Sikander Singh Maluka. The bureaucrat was today posted as Secretary, Agriculture.

The move, which happened on the day Pannu was to resume work after a fortnight-long leave, makes it evident that Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has decided to side with Maluka and not Pannu.

According to sources, Pannu had differing views over the committee formed by the education minister which awarded the contract for supply of library books under the Sarv Shikshya Abhiyan (SSA) programme to a private company which manufactured pipes. The same committee also awarded the contract to sister companies for supply of science kits under the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shikhsha Abhiyan (RMSA).

Even as the government formed a judicial commission to look into the purchase and supply of books under these two programmes, Pannu was attacked by Sikh pilgrims while on a visit to Uttarakhand following widespread destruction due to floods in June.

Pannu claimed he had been attacked as part of a conspiracy roots of which was in the Education Department. This was interpreted as a direct attack on Maluka.

There were reports that Pannu had been attacked by some Sikh pilgrims after he ‘hurt’ their religious sentiments. Pannu reportedly faced the wrath of pilgrims at Govind Dham (near Hemkund Sahib in Uttarakhand) on June 20. He was again attacked by pilgrims on June 23 at Govind Ghat.

The sources said after it surfaced that the education minister was not behind the attacks on Pannu, his position as DGSE became untenable.

Sources said Maluka spoke to the party high command and made it clear that he could not work with Pannu.

The Pannu camp claims that the officer had met the CM two days back and requested that he be transferred out of the Education Department.

However, sources said Pannu was disappointed at the turn of events as he was expecting the CM to take his side in his ‘war’ against Maluka.

The sources, however, said Badal chose to side with Maluka who is not only a trusted aide but is also in charge of Bathinda parliamentary constituency which is represented by the CM’s daughter-in-law Harsimrat Kaur Badal in the Lok Sabha.

The fact that the allegations that Maluka had conspired to get Pannu beaten up in Uttarakhand proved unfounded helped the education minister’s case and hastened Pannu’s departure from the Education Department.

Unlike earlier, Pannu has not been chosen to head a high profile department. He has been posted as Secretary, Agriculture, where he will not have any independent charge.

Conspiracy claim

* Even as the government formed a panel to look into the purchase and supply of books, Pannu was attacked by pilgrims on a visit to flood-ravaged Uttarakhand.

* Pannu said he was attacked as part of a conspiracy that had its origin in the Education Department

* This was interpreted as a direct attack on Education Minister SS Maluka

* After it surfaced that Maluka was not behind the attack on Pannu, his position as Director General of School Education became untenable. 





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