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NEWSMAKERS: 16-30 November 2001

Music director Nadeem Akhtar Saifee has received 920,000 pounds (Rs 6.5 crore) as compensation from the Government of India after it failed to extradite him in connection with the Gulshan Kumar murder case. Nadeem was accused of having masterminded the murder of cassette king Gulshan Kumar in August 1997. On 1 September 1997, the then Mumbai police commissioner RH Mendonca had named Nadeem as the prime suspect having paid Rs 35 lakh to Abu Salem to kill the cassette king. Nadeem at that time was in London. Mumbai Police Commissioner Mendonca’s premature announcement of Nadeem’s involvement was criticized as it was felt that had he not disclosed the name, Nadeem could have been arrested on his return to Mumbai. Lord Justice Christopher Rose of the House of Lords before whom the Indian government was pleading for his extradition ruled on 21 December 2000 that there was no legally admissible material available to the Mumbai police commissioner to substantiate his allegation against Nadeem. The judgement also remarked ‘We infer that police has an improper interest in interfering with the evidence in this case.’ When Nadeem was informed that he has received official intimation from London high court that he would get reimbursement of the cost he said, ‘I would have been happier if the cost was borne by the Mumbai police instead of the government of India.’

Renowned litterateur Dr Qamar Raees, has accepted the post of guest professor in Jamia Millia Islamia and has started working. He was offered the post by Syed Shahid Mehdi, Vice Chancellor of Jamia Millia. He has been appointed for the Academy of the Third World Studies, wherein the social, cultural and political lives of the Central Asian, West Asian and African countries are being studied. Dr Qamar Raees was previously appointed director of Indian Cultural Centre in Tashkent by the government of India and was there for four years. He was also incharge of the Department of Urdu in Delhi University.

Farooque Shaikh, the well-known actor has just finished shooting of all 39 episodes of BBC’s Ji Mantriji, which is contracted through NDTV and being aired on Star Plus. He has already staged around 250 shows of Tumhari Amrita. In his film career he has worked with directors like Muzaffar Ali, MS Sathyu and Satyajit Ray and having acted roughly in 40 films has a long list of hits such as Noorie, Chashme Baddoor and Umrao Jaan etc. Besides serials, he is also reading a lot of movie scripts and wants a film release next year.

Dr Muzzammil Husain Siddiqui, Imam of Islamic Society of North America received congratulatory calls by President Bush and former US Presidents Jimmy Carter, George Bush and Bill Clinton after he participated in a prayer meeting at Washington National Cathedral (America) which was organized for the victims of 11 September incident. Dr Muzzammil Husain belongs to a respected family of Rampur, India and is active in Islamic da'wah work in America. During his speech in the function he recited surah Fatir and Hammim Al-Sajdah of the Qur’an. He asked for Allah’s help in the hours of tragedy and sorrow and prayed for peace and unity of mankind.

Zafar Jung, 58, is busy as ever with both social work and business. A leather exporter and health club owner, Zafar lives in Hameed Manzil on Netaji Subhash Marg. His home has been testimony to much of the freedom movement activities. Not only are the houses of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and freedom fighter Asaf Ali a stone’s throw away, Hameed Manzil itself was a centre of national activities. ‘Maulana Azad, Sarojini Naidu, Abdul Kalam and Jinnah were regulars at home,’ recalls Zafar’s mother Sakina Begum. Zafar traces his lineage to Hazrat Ali saying ‘we are originally Arabs.’ A descendent of a maulvi family, his grandfather, Sameeullah Khan came from Mecca to India in early 18th century at the behest of Mughal emperor Shah Alam II. ‘Our original haveli was near Lal Qila (Red Fort). But when Bahadur Shah Zafar surrendered, all nobles had to move out. My great grandfather was the only one allowed to build a haveli here’, he says. ‘My grandmother was the daughter of a Mughal noble and the niece of Mirza Ghalib’, says Zafar. ‘Mrs Gandhi even presented my father, Nawab Halim Jung, with a memento on his death centenary for being one of Ghalib’s closest relatives.’

Indian Youth Congress President Mr. Randeep Singh Surjewal under instructions from Party President Mrs. Sonia Gandhi has appointed Nadeem Ashraf as the state President of Youth Congress. Mr. Nadeem belongs to historical Jais town of Raebareli district which falls in Amethi Parliamentary Constituency represented by Mrs. Sonia Gandhi herself. Mr. Nadeem Ashraf is a member of the famous Ashrafia clan of Makhdoom Jahangir Ashraf Samnani whose tomb is in Kichaucha of Faizabad distt. Mr. Nadeem Ashraf has the distinction of being the first ever Muslim president of state Youth Congress Committee. A fiery orator, Mr. Nadeem is considered close to Captain Satish Sharma and Ms. Priyanka Gandhi.

Human rights activist Iqbal A Ansari observed a day’s token fast at Samta Sthal, opposite Gandhi Samadhi in New Delhi, on 28 October to express sympathy for all the innocent people killed or wounded and deprived of shelter and livelihood in communal and terrorist violence of the state and political and religious groups and in unlawfully conducted wars in all parts of the world. He aimed to warn the government and people of India of the disastrous consequences of the developing confrontation over Ayodhya which he believes will cause widespread communal and terrorist violence in coming months. Dr Ansari prescribes three ways to save ourselves from imminent disasters: 1) by ensuring impartial enforcement of law which required change in the composition, attitude and the functioning of the administration and police, 2) by constituting a statutory community relations commission for prevention and resolution of conflicts and 3) by civil society’s initiative to bring about conciliation through dialogue leading to a comprehensive agreement between Hindu and Muslim leaders.

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