Wednesday, December 19, 2007



- by Nasir.

“There are no victors in war – only victims. The Message of the new millennium is clear Learn to co-exist Man in peace! Or else perish.” - DILIP KUMAR

The Thespian and the legendary darling of the nation had taken permission of the concerned authorities in India before accepting the Nishan-e-Imtiaz (Nishan-e-Pakistan) Award. As he said:

“It was not conferred on Dilip Kumar the Actor for his acting prowess. It was given to me for whatever little credibility I enjoyed for my work in the socio-civic field for causes of the poor which were not bound by region or religion, caste or creed, which crossed all barriers.”

With the Kargil crisis looming large over the Indo-Pak relations and the “Bus Diplomacy” of the NDA Government in the doldrums, little did Dilip Kumar realize that he would be sucked into the vortex of a tamasha that would endanger his safety as well as the safety of the members of his family, what with all sectarian and communal forces bullying him into returning the Award. One failed to understand what the Kargil conflict had to do with this Award and how was this Award different from any other awards given to Dilip Kumar by other nations. Centuries ago, Dr. Samuel Johnson had stated: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel” – and here was the Shiv Sena’s demand that Dilip Kumar return this Award to “prove he is a true Indian.” It was the courage of his conviction in the face of this personal crisis and the overwhelming odds and how he emerged triumphant by obeying only the dictates of his conscience in retaining the Nishan-e-Imtiaz Award, especially at a time when his physical conditions were at the lowest ebb, with his having recently undergone a major heart surgery that has made Dilip Kumar the real-life hero as well.

Not finding much support in Mumbai, Dilip Kumar rushed to New Delhi to meet the then BJP Prime Minister of the NDA Government, Mr. A.B. Vajpayee. It is not as if his visit to New Delhi was without protests. The hotel where the Thespian stayed was virtually turned into a fortress with heavy deployment of armed personnel, including women constabulary. The Shiv Sena there had been demonstrating outside this hotel and shouting slogans against the Tragedy King. They too wanted him to return the said Award. At this time, about twenty (20) activists of the Student Federation of India (SFI) clashed with the Sainiks whose supporters paraded Dilip Kumar’s effigy on a donkey and later set it on fire. The SFI activists were now joined by the Congress and the Janata Dal workers who held the Sainiks back. Dilip Kumar requested the Centre to put an end to the volatile situation and expressed his concern that when the Shiv Sena could hold violent protests in Delhi which is the seat of Central Administration what would they be capable of in their citadel of Mumbai!

Meanwhile, in the Mumbai edition of THE TIMES OF INDIA (sometime in mid-July 1999) the Editorial entitled PATRIOT GAMES condemned the bullying game of the Shiv Sena. It stated that the Nishan-e-Pakistan was given to Dilip Kumar in recognition for his “immense contribution to the Cinema and popular culture in the sub-continent.” At that time Mr. Vajpayee was of the view that this honour would help foster amity and goodwill between India and Pakistan. Ridiculing the attempts by some political parties to force Dilip Kumar to return the Award, the editorial also pointed out that it will not be long before we are told that it is unpatriotic to read Faiz and Manto, listen to Abida Parveen and Ustad Salamat Ali Khan and maybe even to speak Sindhi. It might have well added to the list the names of Malika-e-Tarannum, Noor Jehan, Mahdi Hasan and Ghulam Ali, whose works in the relevant fields are very popular in India.

To continue.....

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