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Photograph in the withdrawn book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

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Indians have made 119 nations their ‘karma bhumi’: US-based Hindu NGO tells Rupani

Counterview Desk
In a stinging letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the US-based Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), referring to the report citing his justification for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – that “while Muslims can choose any one of the 150 Islamic countries in the world (for residence), India is the only country for Hindus" – has said, he should remember, Hindus have made several countries, including USA, their home.

J&K continues to be haunted, as parts of India 'degenerate' into quasi-Kashmir situation

By Rajendran Narayanan*, Sandeep Pandey**
“Jab har saans mein bandook dikhe toh baccha kaise bekhauf rahe?” (How can a child be fearless when she sees a gun in every breath?) remarked Anwar, a gardener from Srinagar, when asked about the situation in Kashmir. On November 30, 2019, a walk through an iron gate in a quiet neighbourhood of Srinagar took us inside a public school. It was 11 am when typically every school is abuzz with activity. Not here though.

Tata Mundra's possible closure? Power ministry's 'pressure tactic' on consumer states

By Bharat Patel*
Tata power has announced to the Union Ministry of Power that Tata Power may be forced to stop operating  its imported coal-based Mundra Ultra-Mega Power Project (UMPP) after February, 2020. It is not only unfortunate but also criminal that irreversible damage has been caused to the fragile ecosystem of Mundra coast for a project that will have a running life of only seven years.

Population control? 10% Indian couples want to delay next pregnancy, but fail

Counterview Desk
Shireen Jejeebhoy, director at Aksha Centre for Equity and Wellbeing, previously senior associate at the Population Council, India, argues that the debate on the country's population was fuelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address to the nation, where he drew attention to “concern” about the challenges posed by this ‘exploding’ population growth, needs to centre around the promotion of rights and education, instead of the language of explosion and the threat of coercion that this term implies.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam*
In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Kerala governor turned History Congress into political arena, 'insulted' Prof Irfan Habib

Counterview Desk
In a signed statement, office bearers of the Aligarh Society of History and Archaeology (ASHA), Prof Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi (president), Prof Jabir Raza (vice-president), Prof Manvendra Kumar Pundhir (secretary) and Prof Farhat Hasan (joint secretary), have said that Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan had sought to insult veteran historian Prof Irfan Habib, 88, at the 80th session of the Indian History Congress, even as turning it into his “political arena”.