Late-night meeting with the CM : The Tribune India

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Late-night meeting with the CM

Late-night meeting with the CM

Photo for representational purpose only.



Rupinder Gupta

MY late father was the district inspector of schools, Patiala. His office was at Nabha in the erstwhile state of Pepsu. He continued on the post when Pepsu was merged with Punjab. Back in 1957, Partap Singh Kairon was the Chief Minister of Punjab. One evening, a message was conveyed to father through the telephone exchange supervisor that the CM wanted to meet him at his camp office in Patiala at 11 pm. Meeting the deadline seemed difficult as no public or private transport was available at that hour. The news that my father had been ‘summoned’ by the CM spread to the adjoining houses. One of our neighbours was the NCC officer in a government college. He offered an NCC truck for the journey. The truck, with my dad and a constable (deputed by another neighbour, who was a police officer), left Nabha around 9 pm and reached the camp office well before 11 pm. Father was among many people awaiting their turn. He was called about half an hour later. As he was entering the CM’s office, he saw a group of village panchayat members coming out.

Kairon wanted to know what father had done regarding a case which the panchayat had brought to the CM’s notice months ago. The case pertained to a burqa-clad male teacher from another village who had arrived at a school in order to elope with a girl student. He had been exposed by a group of curious kids, whose shouts had attracted villagers. They had caught hold of the person and handed him over to the police after giving him a thrashing. The CM asked what action had been taken by the department against the accused teacher. Caught unawares about this police case, father struggled to provide information in this regard. After listening to him, the CM told him that he should consider himself suspended. The remark was a bolt from the blue. In those years, suspension was uncommon and the person penalised was looked down upon by society. Father’s return journey to Nabha was stressful.

There was no communication from the education directorate or the CM’s office for a few weeks. Still, the sword of Damocles kept hanging over dad’s head. He asked a friend to resolve the matter. The latter approached a political stalwart from Sirsa who had good relations with the CM. About a fortnight later, a message was conveyed to father by his friend that no case against him was pending with the CM’s office. The CM told the Sirsa politician that the purpose of calling father to his office was to rattle him a bit and keep the panchayat in good humour. The message brought great relief to my family. I still wonder what would have happened had no NCC truck been available that night.


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