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Government to probe 'fake' Padma awardee

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
Last updated on: January 29, 2009 11:59 IST
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Rashtrapati Bhavan has ordered a probe in the Hashmat Ullah Khan controversy who had been conferred the Padma Shri award from the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Investigations have shown that there is no person named Hashmat Ullah Khan.

"We do not know how this happened. How is possible that the name was not recommended by the state government got the award. The Union home ministry finally scans the entire list," a top Rashtrapati Bhavan  official told on Wednesday.

Khurshid Gani, principal secretary to Jammu &Kashmir chief minister confirmed that the state government has not sent the name. Hashmat Ullah Khan is the only name, which figures in the list of prestigious Padma awardees this year from Jammu and Kashmir.

Nobody seems to know who the man in question is and how his name got recommended. Worse still nobody knows where  Khan lives. According to Rashtrapati Bhavan records he is the author of several books. The only man who wrote such a book on Jammu and Kashmir died six decades ago.

Since Sunday when the names for Padma awardees were announced, media persons searching for information about the awardee, have met the blank stares, in response to any query pertaining to Khan.

Senior officers in the state administration and those at the helm of affairs in the state bodies related to art and culture are a baffled lot .

The officers both in the state administration and JKAACL maintain that they conferred Padma Shri award for 2009 from J&K in the field of art. 

It is interesting to note that majority of officers in the administration and JKAACL and even the art connoisseurs of the state identify only one Hashmat Ullah Khan, retired Vice-Chancellor of Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Jammu. "We only know Prof Hashmat Ullah Khan yet whether he has any artistic background, or not, we're not aware," they said

When Prof Hashmatullah Khan was contacted, he averred, "Certainly I've not been conferred any award. I've not received any intimation on this account." Yet whether he has any artistic or literary background, in response to this query, his answer was, "No, I don't have any such background." However, Secretary Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, Zafar Manhas, when contacted immediately after the announcement of awards, stated that he could only comment after proper verification.

Even other Academy officers were clueless about the identity of Padma Shri awardee Hashmat Ullah Khan. They maintain, "The field of art covers both performing and visual arts yet we could not find any such person in any field."

Basharat Ahmad Dar, commissioner secretary, general administration department, maintained that he was not either aware of any such recommendation or any such person.

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi