The Urdu academic and literary division got a jolt in September 2005 when Hamidullah Bhat, director of the prestigious National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL), was raided and arrested by the CBI on charges of corruption.
A year and a little later, the academicians are upset once again. Bhat – who, according to the CBI possessed assets worth Rs 2.2 crore — was recalled to the Council's parent organ, the Ministry of Human Resource Development in November. Bhat, in fact, has been attached to the same Council, NCPUL, from where he was suspended last year as director. This time around, of course, no one is reporting to him.
A ministry official, on condition of anonymity, confirmed that Bhat was attached to the council in November. "Suspension orders are reviewed —whether to continue the suspension — every three months.
The last time it came up, the ministry thought that since there was no sign from the CBI as to where the case was heading, the suspension order could be revoked," the official said. He refused to comment on whether Bhat could have been accommodated in some other department of the ministry.
Bhat, initially reluctant to talk about the developments, said, "Nothing has happened. I am a small man. I will be obliged if you do not write anything about me. I know a lot about Urdu politics and (the issue of) modernisation of madrasas. Help me now, I will be at your disposal later." However, the one thing that Bhat himself does not have at his disposal is support.
An NCPUL insider said, "Last year before the raids were conducted, representations were made to the ministry about misuse of funds and lack of transparency in the way the council was being run.
For one, 70 per cent of the budget (annual budget is Rs 12 crore) was being spent on computers. Urdu learning centres were being opened where typing lessons on Hindi and English were being given. The logic was that it would help young Muslims to integrate with the society. Great idea. But is it the job of the council to teach Hindi and English."
Dr Mohammad Kazim, Delhi University's eminent Urdu professor, alleged that Bhat is trying to again become the NCPUL director. "The post is vacant. Two months ago, applications were invited and interviews were held on November 21. A shortlist was compiled, the process completed. The ministry is now sitting on it," Kazim said. It was learnt that three academics have been short-listed on merit.
Dr Khwaja Ikramuddin of JNU's Centre for India Languages, said the council has been headless for more than a year. "Now that Bhat is apparently trying to become the director, the decision might be stalled again," he said.
CBI spokesman, G Mohanty, said suspension and reinstatement is an internal departmental issue. “As far as criminal charges against Bhat are concerned, they are under investigation," Mohanty added.