Skip to main content

Did Najma Heptulla morph photograph where she "sits" next to Maulana Azad? Delhi High Court seeks probe

The original photograph
By Our Representative
In an unprecedented move, the Delhi High Court on March 16, 2018 (Court 10, Item 22, PIL 7003 of 2014), has asked the CBI for relevant records of the steps taken to investigate into the photo morphing of India's first education minister, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, allegedly by Manipur governor Najma Heptulla, in a coffee table book, “Journey of A Legend: Maulana Abul Kalam Azad: 1888-1958”, authored by her.
Bringing this to light, in an email alert to Counterview, the petitioner in the case, Firoz Bakht Ahmed, has said, Justice Rajiv Shakdher asked the CBI counsel to produce relevant records for court's perusal to show prima facie what steps were taken to inquire into the photo morphing case as he was not convinced by the “Self-Contained Note” to give a clean chit to Heptulla.
The court was hearing the plea by Ahmed, grandnephew of Maulana Azad, seeking inquiry into the "morphing" of a photo of Maulana Azad and Najma Heptulla’s alleged role in it. Ahmed moved the court saying that the photo morphing was done at Heptulla's instance when she headed the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) in 2005.
Justice Shakdher also directed CBI to see the evidence given by Dr Madhup Mohta, an Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer, who as an intervener had alleged that the photo was morphed and Heptulla was very much part of the process. The counsel for CBI earlier opposed the IFS officer's plea to implead him as party in the matter, saying, the officer himself was an accused in other two cases.
Photograph in the withdrawn book
Says Ahmed, the question still remains as to why no FIR was not lodged by ICCR when it was found that the photograph in the coffee table book, published by ICCR, was morphed. According to Ahmed's counsel, Govind Jee, CBI was defending Heptulla as she happened to be politically well connected.
During the hearing, CBI told the court that the allegation of photo morphing was inquired into at a preliminary level. However, after the probe, CBI was of the view that the allegation of photo morphing could not be substantiated as there was no sufficient incriminating admissible evidence for prosecution.
Govind Jee, on the other hand, argued that from the evidences apparent on record it was clear that photo morphing did happen, but CBI has till has date failed to ascertain who was responsible for this.
The controversial photograph showed young Heptulla with the Maulana. The caption read, “Najma Heptulla with Maulana Azad after her graduation”. According to Ahmed, "Official inquiries later revealed that Heptulla had graduated in May 1958, whereas the Maulana passed away on February 22, 1958."
As it caused considerable embarrassment, Ahmed says, the book was "withdrawn and banned" and a revised version got published where the morphed picture was replaced by a portrait of Maulana Azad.
The original photograph of 1953 showed Reza Shah Pehalvi, the Shah of Iran, sitting with Maulana Azad, but Heptulla "pasted her own picture with the help of computer experts."
Interestingly, the book was scheduled for joint release by Manmohan Singh, then Prime Minister, and Parvez Mushrraf, as Pakistan chief executive at the Indo-Pak diplomacy one-day cricket match, at Firoz Shah Kotla on April 17, 2005.
"However, as Mohta, who was then Publications Officer of ICCR, discovered that Heptulla's photograph was morphed, the book release was cancelled", says Ahmed.
A former Congress leader, Heptulla, who had strained relations with Congress president Sonia Gandhi, joined BJP in June 2004. She was minorities affairs minister under Prime Minister Narendra Modi between 2014 and 2016, after which she was shifted as Manipur governor.

Comments

TRENDING

Green revolution "not sustainable", Bt cotton a failure in India: MS Swaminathan

Counterview Desk
In a recent paper in the journal “Current Science”, distinguished scientist PC Kesaven and his colleague MS Swaminathan, widely regarded as the father of the Green Revolution, have argued that Bt insecticidal cotton, widely regarded as the continuation of the Green Revolution, has been a failure in India and has not provided livelihood security for mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers.
Sharply taking on Green Revolution, the authors say, it has not been sustainable largely because of adverse environmental and social impacts, insisting on the need to move away from the simplistic output-yield paradigm that dominates much thinking. Seeking to address the concerns about local food security and sovereignty as well as on-farm and off-farm social and ecological issues associated with the Green Revolution, they argue in favour of what they call sustainable ‘Evergreen Revolution’, based on a ‘systems approach’ and ‘ecoagriculture’.
Pointing out that Evergreen Revol…

Rejoinder: Inescapable to have Central Water Commission as strong technical body in India

By BN Navalawala*
This is with reference to Counterview Blog (December 5, 2018), "Modi govt 'shelves' water reforms report, shows 'no interest' in its recommendations", below mentioned are my comments/observations thereon:
A committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Dr. Mihir Shah, Former Member, Planning Commission, for restructuring of Central Water Commission (CWC) and Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) for optimal development of water resources in the country in the backdrop of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

Some Hindu bodies in US defending BJP-RSS' divisive, violent activities: Agnivesh

Counterview Desk Last week, Washington DC saw speakers at a religious freedom roundtable, chaired by the US Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, express concern over "eroding" space for religious freedom in India. Dr Mike Ghouse, executive director, of the Center for Pluralism in Washington DC, referring to the roundtable, said in an email alert that Indian-Americans have "a moral duty to prevent India from being labeled as a Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)".

Preventing childhood deaths: India performs worse than Bangladesh, "equals" Pakistan

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released study, “The Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report 2018”, prepared by the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has identified India among 15 other countries which are still far off the mark in achieving the targets of the Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD).

Karnataka: NGO Akshay Patra "not sensitive" to nutrition demands of school children

Counterview Desk
Well-known civil rights organizations, Right to Food Campaign and Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, have sent a letter to the Union minister of human resource development, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, other concerned ministers and officials of the state expressing concerns regarding the mid-day meal (MDM) to school children, insisting, all contracts to the Akshay Patra for supply of MDM should be immediately terminated.

India's rewritten textbooks talk of demerits of democracy, praise Hitler, underrate Mughals

Counterview Desk
A detailed, 3,800-word review of the books rewritten under directions of the BJP rulers across India since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in May 2014 has suggested that one of aims of the books is to instill a sense of doubt about India’s democratic polity among the country’s young minds. Reviewed in the prestigious US journal, “The New York Review of Books”, in its latest issue (December 6, 2018) by Alex Traub, the scrutiny insists, the effort has also been to paint Indian history from the angle of “Hindu triumphalism”, even as creating “Islamophobia”.

Govt of India "tarnishing" NGO reputation, dossier leaked selectively: Amnesty

Counterview Desk
Amnesty International India has said that a deliberate attempt is being made to tarnish its reputation by leaking a dossier, supposedly made by investigating agencies, to media without giving it access to any such information. The high profile NGO’s claim follows a Times Now report about proceedings launched by investigative agencies, including Enforcement Directorate (ED) against the rights body for “violations” of rules pertaining to overseas donations.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Four children die after poor UP Dalit, Muslim families forced to flee to forest area: PVCHR

Counterview Desk
Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) has said that the forest department police’s crackdown, allegedly without any prior notice, on Dalit and Muslim households in Dakhin Tola, Churk Bazaar, Sonbhadra district, Uttar Pradesh, beating up “children and old people, women, and men in an inhuman way”, has led to “forced displacement, starvation and discrimination”. This has reportedly affected about 350 people.

Vedanta is out but corporate loot continues in Odisha: Local activists tell NAPM yatra

By Our Representative
Lok Shakti Abhiyan leader Prafulla Samantara, winner of the Goldman Environmental (also known as Green Nobel) Prize in 2017, has regretted that though Sundergarh in Odisha, like other forest areas, is a fifth schedule area, where Forest Rights Act (FRA) and Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA) is applicable, but these laws are being “outrightly violated to facilitate corporate loot.”