[Reader-list] SAHMAT clarifications on recent reports in a section of media

prakash ray pkray11 at gmail.com
Fri Aug 3 12:25:51 IST 2007

Dear friend,

A letter dated 16.07.2007 with the subject title 'Reply to Legal Notice
dated 04.07.2007', written by advocate Jai Singh Sheikhupura on behalf of
his client Gauhar Raza, and addressed to Nandita Rao, advocate for SAHMAT,
has been circulated to the press and on the internet. SAHMAT believes that
the following clarifications are in order, as the above-mentioned letter has
led to a number of misconceptions.

1. The Legal Notice referred to was sent on behalf of SAHMAT by SAHMAT's
advocate Nandita Rao, to Shakeel Ahmed Khan of the Nehru Yuvak Kendra
Sangthan (NYKS), and Shri Mani Shankar Aiyar, Minister of Youth Affairs and

2. The Legal Notice was with regard to the mass circulation by the NYKS of a
video-CD of the film 'Jung-E-Azadi', which had been made by SAHMAT in 1997
during our year-long commemoration of the 140th anniversary of the 1857
rebellion. It had come to our notice that in the copy of the film which was
being circulated to all its centres by the NYKS recently, the credits at the
beginning and end – A SAHMAT and TVI Presentation – had been
removed.Inother words, all mention of SAHMAT was obliterated.

3. The film 'Jung-e-Azadi' was the culmination of a  large, collective
effort involving many collaborators, which began with a public event
organised by SAHMAT at the Red Fort lawns on May 11th, 1997, to commemorate
the 140th anniversary of 1857. At that event, there were presentations of
plays, music by Shubha Mudgal and Indian Ocean, and folk artists from
Haryana singing songs of the revolt. Zohra Sehgal performed a scripted
dramatic recitation which accompanied projected video clips of photographs,
maps, lithographs and clips from films on 1857. There was also a large
exhibition mounted on the lawns.

The research for the exhibition, which was the basis for Zohra Sehgal's
recitation, the video clips and the subsequently published book, Red the
Earth, both textual and visual, was done by Professor Irfan Habib, The
Aligarh Historians Society, Professor Ravinder Kumar(then Director of the
Nehru Memorial Museum and Library), Professor Narayani Gupta, Professor Jim
Masselos with additional photographic research by Ram Rahman, amongst many

4. The video 'Jung-e-Azadi' was subsequently filmed in the BITV studios as a
recreation of the Red Fort performance. This was broadcast by BITV then, and
has continued to be widely screened and circulated for the last ten years.

5. The current circulation of the film by NYKS after removing all references
to SAHMAT is thus an attempt to alter the historical record in the public
sphere, and we regard the mutilation as a criminal offence.

SAHMAT has not received any reply to its Legal Notice from the NYKS or the
Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. Instead, there is the above-cited
letter issued by Gauhar Raza's advocate. This has come as a surprise to us,
and we would like to clarify that SAHMAT has not issued a legal notice to
either Gauhar Raza or Shabnam Hashmi. Nor do their names feature in our
Legal Notice to the NYKS and the Ministry. We would also like to make very
clear that we have never made any allegations of financial impropriety
against any individuals.

We sincerely hope this clarifies SAHMAT's stand while we await a reply from
the NYKS and the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.

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