New Delhi: Nearly five years ago, Niyaz Ahmed Khan was at heart of a controversy when a novel he’d written, criticising the practice of triple talaq, was burned by clerics at mosques in Bhopal and Guna. Now, the Madhya Pradesh-based IAS officer is in the eye of another storm — the state government Thursday issued him a show-cause notice over his tweets on the film The Kashmir Files.
Speaking to ThePrint, Khan said, “The constitution allows every citizen to express themselves. It is my freedom of speech. I do not know what the government thought, but I know that I have not done anything that violates the law or my constitutional rights. I have not said or written anything against the government or any political party, I have only expressed my opinion about a movie”.
In a tweet last week, Khan, a serving deputy secretary in the Madhya Pradesh government, had asked the director of The Kashmir Files — a film on the exodus of the Pandits from Kashmir — Vivek Agnihotri, to also make a movie on killings of Muslims across the country. “Muslims are not insects, but citizens of the country,” he tweeted.
Kashmir File shows the pain of Brahmins. They should be allowed to live safely in Kashmir with all honour. The producer must also make a movie to show the killings of Large number of Muslims across several states. Muslims are not insects but human beings and citizens of country
— Niyaz Khan (@saifasa) March 18, 2022
He had also suggested that the proceeds from The Kashmir Files be used to help in the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits.
Income of Kashmir Files reached 150 crore. Great.People have given a lot of respect for Kashmiri Brahmins' feelings.I would respect film producer to transfer all earnings to the Brahmin children's education and construction of homes for them in Kashmir. It will be a great charity
— Niyaz Khan (@saifasa) March 20, 2022
Khan, who is from Chhattisgarh, told ThePrint that this was the first such show-cause notice he had received in 21 years of service as a civil servant.
“In my years of service, I served my country and the people honestly. There has been no case against me for corruption or financial irregularities. I have done everything for the sake of the people. I had served as sub-divisional and deputy magistrate, chief executive officer of Panchayat bodies, but there is no complaint against me anywhere,” he said.
He added, “I am surprised that expressing my views about a film earned the wrath of powerful and influential people. I have been abused day in and day out on social media. Fanatics are giving me gaalis (name-calling) and have threatened me”, Khan said.
The IAS officer, who works in Madhya Pradesh’s Public Works Department (PWD), said that he would reply to the government’s notice.
“I stand by what I said and I will not delete my posts. I have not violated any standard protocol,” Khan said.
Although he is known as an ‘upright officer’ among his colleagues, Khan said he hadn’t received any support from them on this controversy. “I didn’t even expect support from colleagues, I am protected by the Constitution,” he said.
In the past few days, Khan had also criticised All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi, tweeting that he took to the stage and spoke only during elections.
ThePrint contacted Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra’s office for comment via telephone, but had not yet got a response from him. This report will be updated when he responds.
Not new to controversy
Khan has written seven books in the past 12 years, including a book on the Iraq War — Be Ready To Die — and Love Demands Blood, based on the real-life relationship between gangster Abu Salem and actress Monica Bedi.
In 2017, Khan had drawn the ire of some Muslim clerics when he published a novel, Talaq, Talaq, Talaq. Copies of the book were burnt at mosques in Bhopal and Guna.
“My book about triple talaq and the predominant fundamentalism among Muslims irked the maulavis. They boycotted my book, and several copies were burned. I did not say anything wrong then, and I did not say anything wrong now. I spoke only the truth, and that is why the fanatics attacked me,” he said.
He added that he is now contemplating an eighth book on the “massacre of Muslims” on different occasions in India.
Speaking to reporters, state Home Minister Narottam Mishra said Wednesday, “I have seen Khan’s tweets. This is a serious issue…he is crossing and violating the lakshman rekha (limit) set for (government) officials…the state government will issue a show-cause notice to him and seek his reply.”
The 50-year-old IAS officer was also criticised by state medical education minister Vishwas Sarang, who said his posts were firqa parast (sectarian) and called for his removal from the PWD. “He has no right….The way he has started issuing statements and started a Twitter war, this is against the service rules,” Sarang said.
(Edited by Manoj Ramachandran)