Poet rapped for Modi remark, asked to return grant

Ahmedabad: This collection of poetry came to light in 2008, because Akeel Shatir Ansari was granted 10,000 rupees, by the Gujarat Government-run Urdu Sahitya Academy.

Now, the academy has served him a notice asking him to return the money with interest.

Their reason for doing so is because in the foreword by eight writers, Mumbai-based poet Raunaq Afroz mentions the 2002 Gujarat communal riots and the indifference of the Modi government towards the promotion of Urdu.

''In the manuscripts that were submitted to us, there was no mention of this preface. The version that has been circulated in the market includes this paragraph that clearly violates the contract,'' said Harshad Trivedi, Registrar, Urdu Sahitya Academy.

Back in October 2008, at the book release a guest had pointed out this controversial line to Akeel after which Akeel withdrew the copies and got the line deleted in subsequent prints.

''It's an attempt to harass me since copies of the book with that reference are not even in circulation anymore,'' said the poet Akeel Shatir Ansari.

Akeel suspects he is being harassed because he filed a string of RTI queries in June, seeking information on how much money the Urdu Sahitya Academy spends on promoting Urdu literature.

As of today the Academy after hearing him out has threatened to take legal recourse if he does not return the money.