Forty civil rights activists, including writers and journalists, issued an appeal to boycott the award ceremony slated at India Islamic Cultural Centre in New Delhi on Saturday, expressing shock at the honour being bestowed to Congress leader Jagdish Tytler, an accused in the anti-Sikh riots in 1984.
Announcement of the Jauhar award to former Union minister Jagdish Tytler among eight selected for the honour by Delhi-based Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar Academy has kicked up a storm, with refusal to accept the award coming from at least two eminent personalities -- Delhi's senior journalist Zafar Agha and Gujarat IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt.
Those selected for the award include Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi, Deoband municipal chairman Maulana Mohd Haseeb Siddiqui, and Begum Andre, social activist and educationist from Mumbai.
In an appeal released by the activists at a press conference, the awardees were urged not to accept the award as a mark of protest against honouring Tytler, 'whose contribution in the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom has been recorded by several fact-finding reports, including those by PUCL and PUDR.'
The appeal says awarding a minority riot accused with an award named after Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar, a prominent figure of the Indian freedom movement, will be misuse of the name of the distinguished personality of Indian and Muslim history. The Maulana was the sixth Muslim president of the Congress Party and also a leader of the Khilafat movement.
The activists regretted that the award is being given by a religious minority group to a person who has been found involved in bloody riot against another religious minority.
The Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar Academy was founded in 1974 at Rampur in Uttar Pradesh. The award was instituted in 1989. This is 23th annual award ceremony. The academy gives award to individuals for their extra-ordinary contribution in their respective fields.