Gujarat''s Urdu Sahitya Academy asks poet to return grant

Posted By: Pti
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Ahmedabad, Jan 18 (PTI) City-based poet Aqeel Shatirhas been asked by the state-run Urdu Sahitya Academy to returnmoney given to him for publishing a book alleging that a guestpiece in the book showed Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modiin poor light.

Shatir, however, claimed that the guest piece withregard to Modi was just a cover-up and he was being penalisedfor seeking information about grants received by the Academyfrom the government and its utilisation under the Right ToInformation (RTI) Act.

"I received a notice from the Academy a few monthsafter filing RTI application seeking information on financialgrants received and its utilisation over the last five years,"Shatir who runs an STD PCO in Gomtipur area of city told PTI.

"I am being targeted for seeking information on issuesthat would expose corruption within the Academy. Allegation ofviolation of academy rules and printing guest article showingModi in poor light is just a cover-up," he said.

"My book ''Abhi Zinda Hoon Main'' (I am Still Alive)which is being made the bone of contention was published in2008 with Rs 10,000 grant from the Urdu Sahitya Academy forprinting it," he said.

And the paragraph critical of Modi for 2002 communalriots was written by another poet Raunaq Afroz of Bhiwandi.

The piece by Afroz was part of preface written by eight guestwriters for Shatir''s book. .

Shatir said that the contentious piece was removed from the book immediately after his attention was drawn to itby Urdu writer Mohiuddin Bombaywala during the book releasefunction in 2008.

"I removed the page containing the objectionableparagraph from all the copies before they were put up for salein the market," he claimed

"But about 80 copies gifted to the noted writersduring the book release function carried the objectionableparagraph," Shatir added.

He said that two years after the book release, theAcademy served him notice in November last year, asking him toexplain why he should not be directed to pay back the grantmoney for violating Academy norms by printing piece on Modiwithout permission.

"I wrote to the Academy explaining what had happenedand how I had removed the contentious piece from all the booksbefore it was sent to the market," Shatir said.

"But they have now written a letter saying they werenot satisfied with my explanation and have asked met to returnthe grant of Rs 10,000 with interest," he added.

Shatir said that there was no rule under which theAcademy can compel him to return the grant.

Registrar of Urdu Sahitya Academi Harshad Trivedi wasnot available for comment.

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