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July 11, 1999
Dilip Kumar decides to retain Nishan-e-Imtiaz
Dilip Kumar has decided to ignore the Shiv Sena and keep the Nishan-e-Imtiaz, Pakistan's highest civilian award, bestowed on him by Islamabad last year for, among other things, his contribution to better India-Pakistan understanding.
The thespian decided to keep the award after a half-hour meeting with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today.
The Shiv Sena, Maharashtra's ruling party in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party, had raised a controversy over the award and questioned the patriotism of Dilip Kumar, who was born Yusuf Khan in Peshawar in undivided India 76 years ago.
But Prime Minister Vajpayee declared, "There is no doubt about film star Dilip Kumar's patriotism and commitment to the nation."
According to an official statement, Vajpayee said that throughout his long film career, Dilip Kumar had proved his patriotism and commitment to the nation and it was for him to decide whether to keep the award that was bestowed on him as an individual. Nobody should pressurise him to surrender it, he said.
Earlier, in a letter to the prime minister, Dilip Kumar had said he was ready to return the award if Vajpayee felt it would serve the national interest.
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