NATIONAL STUDENTS Union of India (NSUI) on Friday announced its panel of four “poster boys”. These students shall be working as the faces of the party on the campus for the forthcoming student elections, scheduled this September. Among these four “poster boys” is Pankaj Jakhar (23), who is still on the waiting list seeking admission to a Masters degree course in the Department of Languages, Panjab University.
In January 2016, Jakhar was arrested in Chandigarh with notorious gangster Sampat Nehra for allegedly helping a gang of thieves in a carjacking case registered in Patiala. Patiala police, while investigating that carjacking case, raided a house in Manimajra and arrested four men – Nehra, Jakhar, Parveen Kumar and a juvenile.
FIR No.10, dated January 18, 2016, registered at Urban Estate Police Station in Patiala, mentions the four accused. They are Sampat Nehra, Parveen Kumar, Pankaj Jakhar and a youngster who was a minor at that time. The FIR was registered under sections 399 (making preparation to commit dacoity), 402 (assembling for purpose of committing dacoity), 473 (making or possessing counterfeit seal with intent to commit forgery punishable otherwise) and 489 (tampering with property mark with intent to cause injury) of the Indian Penal Code and under relevant sections of the Arms Act at the Urban Estate PS. While the charges under the Arms Act were dropped in Jakhar’s case, his next hearing for charges under Section 399 is scheduled for August 6.
Jakhar is currently out on bail in the case. He will work as one of the four faces of NSUI in capacity of a ‘president’. The party, however, shall declare its final panel of students who shall be contesting the next Panjab University Campus Students Council (PUCSC) polls at a later stage.
NSUI, a student wing of the Congress and winners of the 2017-PUCSC polls, made the announcement with much fanfare at the Student Centre, here, on Friday.
Three other named as party’s “poster boys” are Gurpreet Singh, NSUI’s campus president Vijay Jeet Hayer and chairman Gurkirat Pannu.
Hailing from Bhiwani in Haryana, Jakhar was a second-year student of Sri Guru Gobind Singh College in Sector 26 at the time of his arrest. He used to stay at the hostel and frequently met Nehra in the playground. Both Nehra and Jakhar were sportsmen.
“I just knew him [Nehra] because we played together in the evening. I had no idea he was into any kind of crime. I was arrested only because I was with him that evening. I was nothing more than a student involved in campus politics,” Jakhar told Chandigarh Newsline. He said it was “impossible” for him to have known Nehra’s “criminal bent of mind”. “Kaun kaisa nikalta hai, kisko pata hota hai (What a person is on the inside, who can guess)? My parents also scolded me a lot for getting involved in such things,” added Jakhar while denying his involvement in any criminal act.
Manoj Lubana, a senior NSUI leader, said, “Pankaj is a hard-working boy and that’s why we selected him as one of the party’s poster boys. The case against him is a result of dirty student politics.”
The atmosphere on the campus was charged up as the NSUI announced the panel. State president Akshay Sharma came to the campus flanked by two gunmen and a host of outsiders.
In June, Students Organisation of India (SOI) had also announced a presidential candidate, Iqbalpreet Prince, who is facing a case on charges of assault registered against him in 2017.
ABVP protests against NSUI
In anticipation of the visit of NSUI National President Fairoz Khan, around 30 members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) staged a protest at the Student Centre. Khan has been accused of sexual harassment. Senior ABVP leader Harmanjot Singh Gill said, “He did not turn up, but we wanted to show the NSUI that sexual harassers were not welcome on a campus where over 50 per cent students are female.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines