Former Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson and senior BJP leader Najma Heptulla took away 42 files containing personal details of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad from the records of Indian Council for Cultural Relations. She is currently under the CBI scanner for having allegedly morphed a 1958 photo to show her seated with the late leader.
In what could bring fresh trouble for Heptulla, the ICCR has said that the “personal files of Maulana Azad were made available to her on her demand in 2003”. She headed the council between 2002 and 2005.
In response to a RTI query seeking details about the files missing from the ICCR records, the council in its reply stated: “As desired by Smt. Najma Heptulla, the then President, ICCR, personal files of Maulana Azad were sent to her by then DG. These have not been returned till date”.
Heptulla has consistently denied the allegations of photo morphing and termed it “as a conspiracy to malign her by dragging her name into controversy”. She also denied any information regarding the missing ICCR documents.
Heptulla, however, was not available for comments despite repeated attempts on Monday, with her office saying she was out of the country.
The list of 42 files in possession of Hindustan Times shows that rare archives including hand-written letters of Maulana Azad to prominent personalities, his major speeches, photographs, book reviews and manuscripts are missing from the ICCR records.
This is for the first time that the ICCR has admitted its missing files were with Heptulla. So far it has been on the receiving end from the CBI, with the investigating agency having recently pulled up the council’s authorities for their failure to provide documents containing original photographs of Maulana Azad and also those alleged to have been morphed.
The case came to light with the Hindustan Times report in April 2005, that the ICCR publication titled Journey of a legend, on the life of Maulana Azad, contained morphed photos.
The controversial photograph in this book came with an introduction and showed a young Heptulla seated with the Maulana.
The caption read: ”Najma Heptulla with Maulana Azad after her graduation”.
This gave the game away as official inquiries revealed Heptulla had graduated in May 1958, whereas the Maulana had passed away on February 22, 1958.
The probe in the matter was handed over to the CBI after the ICCR employees association approached the Delhi High Court demanding inquiry into the alleged irregularities in the council.
The CBI has completed its preliminary inquiry into the matter, and a senior agency official said, “A case was likely to be registered soon as sanction from the required authorities had been obtained”.
The ICCR officials maintain they would fully cooperate with the investigating agency “as there was nothing to hide” and they wanted the matter which was bringing disrepute to the institution to end soon.