Press Statements

Maulana Jauhar Award: Sanjiv Bhatt, Zafar Agha refuse to share award with Tytler

New Delhi (5 December 2011): Responding to an appeal made by more than hundred human rights’ activist, academician, journalist, filmmaker and students, Sanjiv Bhatt and Zafar Agha has declined to share an award with former minister Jagdish Tytler. Tytler, an accused in the anti-Sikh pogrom of 1984, will be awarded the Maulana Mohd Ali Jauhar Award on 10 December 2011 at the India Islamic Cultural Centre, New Delhi. Seven others were scheduled to share this award.

 “As a young activist, I have seen the anti-Sikh massacre of 1984 of Delhi and behind all this there were somewhere Mr. Tytler. So, how can I share award with somebody, who was involved in such a horrendous crime,” said Mr. Zafar Agha, Senior Journalist and one of the recipients of the award while addressing a press conference here in the capital on Monday. “My conscience doesn’t allow for this and I have informed the organisers that I can’t receive this award,” he added. He also appealed to his co-awardees to reconsider their decision to accept this award.  

The refusal of Mr. Agha came when several civil society activists approached him not to accept the award with Tytler. The decision of honouring Tytler irked many and subsequently few activist, journalist and academician made a public appeal on Saturday to decline the award as a matter of protest. According to social activist Shabnam Hashmi, Gujarat IPS officer Mr. Sanjiv Bhatt will also be not receiving the award in protest.  “We have received a message from Sanjiv that reads, ‘Told them that I cannot accept an award or share a platform with Mr. Tytler,’ she informed.

Civil Rights’ Activist, Mahtab Alam, who is one of the petitioner of the appeal said, “Some of also approached the organiser to drop the name of Mr. Tytler but he refused to budge, saying there is nothing wrong awarding him”.  

“It is also regrettable that an award being given by members of a minority (Muslim) community is honouring someone who has played a key role in the victimisation of another religious (Sikh) minority”, Mahtab Alam says, “It will send a wrong message to Sikh brethren. Therefore, we call upon other recipient to boycott this award ceremony”.

Other five persons who will be awarded on this occasion are S Y Quraishi (Chief Election Commissioner of India), Mohd Najeeb Ashraf Chaudhri, Chief Income Tax Commissioner, Maulana Mohd. Haseeb Siddiqui, Chairman, Deoband Nagar Palika Parishad, Nusrat Gwalliori, Urdu poet, Madhya Pradesh and Begum Rehana AR Andre, Social Activist and Educationist, Mumbai (Bi-Amma Award).

The activists have also urged Justice (Retd.) MSA Siddiqui, chairman, National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions, who is chief guest of the function not to grace the occasion. “We are hopeful that other listed recipients of award will follow the suit by declining the award,” said Shabnam Hashmi.

The award, according M. Salim, General Secretary of the Academy, are given to individuals every year for their extra-ordinary contribution in their respective fields like, Politics, Journalism, Social Work, etc. Though the Academy was founded in 1974 at Rampur (native town of Mr. M Salim) but this particular award was instituted in 1989. This is 23th Annual Award ceremony. Mr. M. Salim, is a senior Urdu journalist and worked for a long time with now defunct Blitz Udru, published from Bombay, now Mumbai.

Text of the appeal and list of signatories are here.

For further details contact Mahtab Alam +91-9811209345 activist.journalist[@]

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