The director of the National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL), Prof Syed Ali Karim aka Irteza Karim, is in the eye of a storm as the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has been approached to set up a CBI probe into his alleged corrupt practices in dealing with NCPUL’s funds, besides other charges. All attempts by The Sunday Guardian to contact Dr Karim for his reaction proved futile until the time of going to press.

Muzaffar Hussain, NCPUL vice-chairman and a Padmashree awardee senior journalist, said, “A Delhi University student had levelled charges of alleged harassment against Prof Irteza Karim and we learnt about that after he was appointed the NCPUL director. I advised him to talk to the Delhi Commission for Women about it, but he said he’ll handle the matter himself. Also, the ‘Loyalty Form’ that was issued to Urdu writers and poets by the NCPUL last month, was made mandatory without considering the views of other members of the council. Prof Karim had passed the form on his own accord. I, along with some other members of NCPUL, had written to the HRD ministry complaining about the director’s irregular practices.”

arim, who was head of the Department of Urdu in Delhi University, was appointed NCPUL director in June last year. Within a year of acquiring office, NCPUL was hit by two major controversies. The “Loyalty Form” issued to Urdu authors by NCPUL as per directives of the MHRD, asked them to declare that their literary work was not critical of the government. The second controversy started with the MHRD directing the NCPUL to introduce yoga classes in its institutions. Both the initiatives were largely criticised in the Urdu media and most held Karim responsible for the state of affairs.

Hussain said, “The World Urdu Conference is an opportunity for NCPUL to further the cause of Urdu language. This year’s conference was a total failure because of the director, who just wanted to get it over with. Most of the renowned Urdu authors were left out of the event. Random students from Mauritius were invited. There is no problem in inviting foreign students, but what about the senior artistes who are making India proud in the international Urdu fraternity? Similar inefficiency on the part of the director resulted in the ‘Ambedkar Show’ organised by NCPUL ending as a flop.”

Sultan Shaheen, founding director of and an Urdu language enthusiast, said, “I won’t comment on the allegations levelled against the NCPUL director. But as far as interest in Urdu language goes, it is not NCPUL’s responsibility alone to promote it. The community has failed equally. Urdu is an Indian language that is unfortunately mostly associated only with Muslims, even though since the pre-Partition era, a lot of prominent Urdu writers were non-Muslims. The popularity of Urdu has declined over the years, and it should be restored. As far as practising yoga goes, I have personally benefitted a lot from yoga. As important as yoga is, forcing it on anybody won’t serve the right purpose.”

Dr Jasim Mohammad, founder, Forum for Muslim Studies and Analysis, Aligarh, who staged a dharna at Jantar Mantar a few weeks back against Prof. Karim, said: “Karim distributed NCPUL’s funds to finance seminars of various organisations. He changed the tender for purchasing computers and software for NCPUL thrice and gave supply contracts to those firms he favoured.” He added: “We were assured by Sukhbir Singh Sandhu, Joint Secretary, MHRD, that an order for an inquiry against Karim would be issued soon.”

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