Wednesday, December 19, 2007



- by Nasir.

Further, in the meantime at Mumbai, the Cine and TV Artistes Association condemned the sustained slandering and maligning of Dilip Kumar by the Shiv Sena. Also, the activists of the National Youth Congress went on a one-day token strike at Azad Maidan. Their banners and placards read:


The activists appealed to Dilip Kumar that he should not succumb to the “communal forces” and he should not return his Nishan-e-Imtiaz Award.

The BJP constituent of the NDA Government were fully aware that Dilip Kumar was not the first recipient of the Nishan-e-Pakistan Award. Much before, Morarji Desai who was the Prime Minister of a coalition government had also been given that Award. The Sangh Parivar was an important part of that government and neither they nor the Shiv Sena then had objected to the Award at that time. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) therefore, opposed the calls by the Shiv Sena and other political parties who wanted the Thespian to return the Nishan-e-Imtiaz. VHP President, Mr. Vishnu Hari Dalmia stated that it was a matter of pride for us that a fellow Indian was given the highest civilian award by a foreign government. He minced no words when he said about Dilip Kumar:

“He is an Indian to his finger-tips. Does he need to prove his patriotism by returning the award which has nothing to do with the ongoing conflict in Kashmir. Since the award is about his personal accomplishments, why negate his contributions?”

Ultimately, the BJP left it to Dilip Kumar whether to retain or return the Award. The then party General-Secretary, Narendra Modi said: “It is best left to the wisdom of Dilip Kumar.”

Dilip Kumar finally met the Prime Minister who told him:

“Nobody should doubt your patriotism and your commitment to the nation.”

Mr. Vajpayee made it clear that no one should put any pressure on Dilip Kumar who has served the nation throughout his long film career. He also told Dilip Kumar:

It is your Award. Do whatever you wish to do with it. The government has no objection.”

Exhibiting amazing energy, strength and focus for a 77-year man who had just had a heart surgery, Dilip Kumar met with the then President of India, Mr. K.R. Narayanan and apprized him of his talks with the Prime Minister. He met the Vice-President, Mr. Krishna Kant as well. He also met many other politicians, including the Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi, and her husband, Mr. Laloo Prasad; the CPI General Secretary, Mr.A Bardhan, the entire CPI central secretariat, and others, including friends, Javed Akhtar and Shabana Azmi. During those six days, Dilip Kumar also met with the Union Home Minister, Mr. L.K. Advani who instructed the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Mr. Narayan Rane, to beef up security for Dilip Kumar and members of his family at his Bandra residence in Mumbai. Dilip Kumar expressed the hope that he would be allowed to stay peacefully in Mumbai.

That was not the end of a task for our hero. Before leaving for Mumbai he made it a point to visit the injured Kargil soldiers at the Army Hospital at Delhi Cantonment. This visit was a morale-boosting and nostalgic one for one and all there. Dilip Kumar finally returned to Mumbai on 16th July, 1999 with his wife, Saira Banu, having survived one of the most despicable "Patriotism Test" in recent memory.

Saira Banu said that she saw no reason why her husband should return the Award. She explained to the reporters that the said Award was given to Dilip Kumar for excellence in the field of art for his contribution in social work and community service and for spreading peace and harmony among the peoples, cutting across religions and ethnic differences. She, too, said that the conflict in Kargil had nothing to do with the going-ons in Kargil. She felt that the issue was being given a communal colour and asked why after having lived all their lives Mumbai they were being asked to prove that they are Indians. She parried: Was it because they were born Muslims? Other communities were not asked to prove their loyalty. She stated that Dilip Kumar was being targeted only because of his religion.

Dilip Kumar, the Brave-Heart and darling of the Indian nation, said that he could sacrifice anything for India. “After all,” he responded, “What’s an award? All that one possesses can be laid down for one’s country and its prestige. Anything can be sacrificed.” Much before the Nishan-e-Imtiaz issue, Dilip Kumar had already made a secret contribution of Rs.1,00,000/- (One Lakh Rupees) by cheque, in response to an appeal by a daily, MIDDAY, for the Army Central Welfare Fund. If we did not hear of it before it was only due to the unwillingness of Dilip Kumar to make this public for it was "no big deal" according to him. The covering letter, attached to the cheque, read:

“For the most worthy cause Midday has espoused, herewith is my humble contribution for the valiant Jawaans and Officers for their supreme sacrifice in the name and for the honour of their motherland – their country.”

It is painful and strange that Dilip Kumar whose film career began with Jwar-Bhata in 1944 and whose fore-fathers did business in India, particularly in Bombay City, should be looked upon with suspicion and subjected to the ignominy of proving that he is a patriot. The star of SHAHEED, LEADER, NAYA DAUR AND KARMA and many other movies whose objective has always been to cultivate patriotism, pro-establishment culture, family values, as well as philanthropy, and perfection in all fields in both reel and real life, is an ever-shining icon whose life has undoubtedly inspired generations of actors and the general populace. It is very appropriate that he is conferred with the Bharat Ratna which he singularly so richly deserves.



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