ICHR omits Nehru's image from site; Congress hits out

Congress leaders rap 'petty' ICHR for omitting Nehru's image from 'Azaadi ka Amrit Mahotsav' celebrations

Majeed Memon of NCP said the BJP should not change the history just because the party did not exist when the freedom struggle was on

Nehru's picture was missing on the website. Credit: Twitter/@ShashiTharoor

The missing frame of India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, from the banner of 'Azaadi ka Amrit Mhatosav' celebrations on the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) website, kicked up a huge political row with Opposition leaders slamming it as "petty" and "atrocious".

The history research body clarified that it was "not diminishing" anybody's role and will bring out more similar banners/posters which include Nehru's photos.

"It is not merely petty but absolutely ahistorical to celebrate Azadi by omitting the pre-eminent voice of Indian freedom, Jawaharlal Nehru. One more occasion for ICHR to disgrace itself. This is becoming a habit!" Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said.

The government has planned 'Azaadi ka Amrit Mahotsav' celebrations to mark the 75th year of India's independence. Sharing a screenshot of the ICHR website, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said, "not surprising from this regime and its toadies masquerading as scholars but atrocious nevertheless."

Majeed Memon of NCP said the BJP should not change the history just because the party did not exist when the freedom struggle was on or because the RSS did not participate in it.

Shiv Sena's Priyanka Chaturvedi tweeted, "you can never look big if you diminish the role of others in the creation of an Independent India. Azaadi ka Amrit Mahotsav can only be celebrated when it acknowledges role of all. By omitting India’s first PM, ICHR reflects its own pettiness& insecurity."

As criticism mounted, ICHR Research and Administration Director Om Jee Upadhyay told a news channel denied any attempt to undermine anyone's role.

"It is not like diminishing anybody's role in the freedom struggle movement. We are making several pages like this. There should be representation from each stream, whichever fought for the freedom struggle," Upadhyay told Times Now.

Upadhyay at the same time asserted those who actually got diminished should be highlighted. He said Savarkar lived for 10 years in Cellular jail and was not given his due. "What is wrong if he was on our front," he said as he acknowledged "the kind of contribution Nehru ji has made, cannot definitely not undermined. It may be he is seen among the 16 or among 24. Right now only eight faces are seen."

ICHR is already courting controversy over its decision to remove names of people associated with the Malabar Rebellion of 1921 from the dictionary of martyrs of the freedom struggle. 

At the time of writing, the Amrit Mahotsav banner  on the ICHR webpage had the photos of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Rajendra Prasad, Madan Mohan Malviya and V D Savarkar.

Political analyst Tehseen Poonawala reminded that "ICHR was established on March 27, 1972 as an autonomous body of the Ministry of Education by an administrative order when Nehruji's daughter Indira Gandhiji was PM."

Jamaat-e-Islami Hind tweeted, "by omitting the names of Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, ICHR has belittled its name and stature. Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav should rise above parochial and communal agenda."

On social media, many pointed out that even Maulana Azad's photo was not shown on the ICHR website.

Congress spokesperson Gourav Gogoi asked "which other country would remove their first head of state from a website about the freedom struggle? ICHR’s removal of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Abul Kalam Azad is petty and an injustice."

Training guns on BJP's ideological mentor, Gogoi alleged, "India will not forget that the RSS chose to stay away from the Indian freedom movement."

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