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NDA may be in a tight spot over Najma
New Delhi, August 02, 2007
First Published: 18:51 IST(2/8/2007)
Last Updated: 19:47 IST(2/8/2007)
BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which had questioned President Pratibha Patilâ€™s candidature by leveling various allegations against her relatives, may find itself in an embarrassing position in the vice-presidential poll due to an ongoing CBI inquiry against its candidate, Najma Heptullah.
Heptullah, a former deputy chairperson of Rajya Sabha and a veteran MP, faces charges of having morphed a 1958 photograph to show her along with Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, in a publication of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR). The issue was first highlighted by the Hindustan Times in April 2005.
Responding to an RTI application recently filed by an employee leader of ICCR seeking the status of probe in the matter, the CBI has said, â€œpreliminary inquiry was registered in CBI on the direction of honâ€™ble High Court of Delhi on July 5th 2006â€.
CBI sources say the preliminary inquiry has now been completed and the agency is likely to register an FIR in the matter soon, as prima facie it was a case of fraud.
The court had directed the CBI to investigate the photo morphing case on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by the ICCR Employees Association president SM Matloob last year.
â€œWe direct the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate the allegations and bring the same to a logical conclusion as expeditiously as possibleâ€, the court said in its order.
The controversial photograph was published in an ICCR publication titled, Journey of a legend, on the life of Maulana Azad, a noted scholar and the countryâ€™s first Education Minister.
Azad was also the first chairperson of the ICCR and this publication came out when the council was headed by Heptullah, whose claim of being a close relative of the Maulana is disputed by the latterâ€™s nephew, Firoz Ahmed Bakht.
The photograph appears with an introduction and shows a young Heptullah seated along with the Maulana. The caption says â€˜Najma Heptullah with Maulana Azad after her graduationâ€™. This gave the game away.
Official inquiries later revealed that Najma Heptullah graduated in May 1958, whereas the Maulana passed away on 22 February, 1958.
The publication was later withdrawn by the ICCR and its revised version is now ready for release, but without the controversial photograph.
Heptullah refused to react on the issue saying people can rake up controversies against anyone.
â€œWhose life is without controversies! I would not respond to further questions as my party has asked me not to speak during the elections. I am fighting this election because I am the most suitable for the postâ€, she said.
But photo morphing is not the only issue haunting the NDAâ€™s vice-presidential candidate.
Azadâ€™s nephew, Firoz Ahmed Bakht has contested Heptullahâ€™s claim of being the closest relative of the Maulana.
â€œShe tried to receive the Bharat Ratna in 1992 on Maulanaâ€™s behalf when my father, who was his elder brother was alive. Following my protest, the award was sent by post to my father in Kolkatta, as he was unwell and could not come to Delhiâ€, he said.
Bakht has demanded action against Heptullah for misleading the nation on her claims of being Maulanaâ€™s closest alive relative.
NDA may be in a tight spot over Najma- Hindustan Times
â€˜NCW, PMO misled by Noida policeâ€™
Noida, December 27 Questioning the action taken by the Noida police to prevent the Nithari killings, the victimsâ€™ kin and activists working with them have alleged that officers of the Noida police misled the National Commission for Women and, subsequently, the Prime Ministerâ€™s Office was misled too. Commodore Lokesh Batra, an RTI and social activist who is planning to organise a meet at Jantar Mantar on December 29, said today, â€œWe need to let the world know how officials from our governance system, who could have saved many lives if they had gone about their duties properly, have all gone scot-free.â€
In explanations given to the National Commission for Women (NCW) through an action taken report on six girls missing from Nithari village in 2005, the Noida police mentioned that teams were sent to various places like Muzaffarnagar, Faridabad and Gurgaon, among other cities in the state and elsewhere in the country.
Police records, according to information received in a letter under a RTI application on January 4 earlier this year, say that no officer has ever claimed reimbursements after such visits. â€œIt is amazing how officers of the (Noida) police kept paying for all the tours from their own pockets. They were either too concerned or no such search attempts were ever made,â€ Batra said.
In a letter dated January 10, 2007, written by Inspector General of Meerut Zone Jagmohan Yadav to the Additional Director General of Police (Human Rights), Lucknow it is mentioned that a letter sent by a committee of the NCW looking into the case of the six missing girls on September 9, 2005 was never received at the office of the then Noida Senior Superintendent of Police Piyush Mordia.
Interestingly, in a letter sent to the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Meerut Zone, dated December 12, 2005 Piyush Mordia himself mentions attaching a copy of the action taken report on a request sent through a letter dated September 9, 2005 along with the original letter. â€œClearly, high ranking officers were trying to save each other when questioned by the NCW and even resorted to blatant lying and denial in the effort to do so,â€ Batra said.
After the NCW committee reported that six girls were missing, DIG Meerut disputed their claim, saying the number of missing girls was five. Jhabbu Lal, who registered his case in 2005, said, â€œAll six families had appeared before the NCW and submitted their complaints with copies of the FIRs.â€ In a letter sent to the Noida SSP by the then Additional SP Saumitra Yadav, dated September 9, 2005 Jhabbu Lalâ€™s complaint that, â€œWe suspect that the person responsible for children going missing is from the Nithari villageâ€, was quoted. â€œIf action had been taken instead of suppressing figures and cases, so many people might not have lost their children,â€ Batra said.
While Payal (whose murder case is presently with the Special CBI court in Ghaziabad) had been missing since May 7, 2006 and even an FIR was not registered, in a letter written to the PMO in September 2006, Shailendra Pratap Singh, the then DIG Meerut Zone, said the Noida Police was taking all necessary actions.
â€œHad the necessary action actually been taken, the reality would have been different today,â€ Batra said. According to information provided by the Noida Police in a reply to a RTI application on February 19 earlier this year, there was no chowki in-charge at the Nithari police post for three months, from February 20 to May 23 in 2005, around the time when the first missing case, of Rimpa haldhar, was reported, on February 10. Once again, an FIR was not registered. Also, on an average, no officer stayed there for more than two to three months.
Batra said, â€œI have filed several applications under the RTI Act and this information proves the negligence of officers and lays open their attempt at cover-up after that.â€
â€˜NCW, PMO misled by Noida policeâ€™