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Khalsa College to be set up in France

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    Tribune News Service

    Iqbal Singh Bhatti , General Secretary, Turban Action Committee, France, talks to mediapersons in Jalandhar
    Iqbal Singh Bhatti , General Secretary, Turban Action Committee, France, talks to mediapersons in Jalandhar on Saturday. Also seen in the picture is Balbir Singh , President of the Governing Council of the Lyallpur Khalsa College.Tribune photo by Pawan Sharma

    Jalandhar, May 6
    With the French government refusing to allow Sikh students to wear turbans in government-run schools, a group of Sikhs settled in the country are on a missionary visit to India to raise funds for setting up International Khalsa College for such students near Paris.

    The General Secretary, Turban Action Committee, France, and vice-president of the proposed college, Mr Iqbal Singh Bhatti, today visited the Lyallpur Khalsa College here to discuss the matter with Mr Balbir Singh, former MP and President of the Lyallpur Khalsa College’s Governing Council.

    Talking to mediapersons, Mr Bhatti said a land measuring 3000 sq mt had been purchased at a cost of Euros 8 lakh for setting up the college. The funds, he added, were collected from 254 affected families and other donors.

    He said the project of constructing three buildings for setting up a primary, high and college-level institute had been finalised. The project, he added, would cost Euros 49 lakh.

    Mr Bhatti lamented that Sikh families in France were finding it difficult to educate their wards in schools run by the government owing to a restriction on wearing turbans. He claimed that as many as 15 students had been expelled from various schools there for violating the rule.

    He said one of the expelled students was his 20-year-old son, Joginder Singh.

    He added that twins of his associate, Mr Varinder Singh Mann, Gurmolak Singh and Gurjot Singh, had also been expelled from school on similar grounds.

    “We, along with other Sikh parents, met officials of the French government at least 17 times over the issue but to no avail,” Mr Bhatti said.

    He added that they were instead told that the legislation passed by the French government on March 2004 (over disallowing students to reflect any association with a religion in schools) could not be withdrawn and the only way out for them was to set up their own school.

    “We have acquired the land for the institutes and Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Managing Committee (DSGMC) had laid its foundation stone,” Mr Bhatti added.

    He said he himself had committed to donate Rs 25 lakh. “But of this, only Rs 10,000, had been received till date owing to RBI restrictions.”

    Mr Bhatti said Mr Avtar Singh, the SGPC President, had also assured to donate Rs 51 lakh for the project during his visit to France this month.

    He said he had already met a cross-section of philanthropists from different areas in India and had urged them to donate generously for the cause.

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