Singer-musician Adnan Sami has found himself in a new controversy after being selected for the Padma Shri award.
Sami was one of the 118 people whose names were announced on Saturday for the Padma Shri awards, with the Ministry of Home Affairs list showing his home state as Maharashtra.
The government’s decision to bestow the award on Sami has led to vociferous criticism from several opposition parties. Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill on Sunday had asked why Kargil War veteran Mohammad Sannaullah was declared a foreigner after his name was excluded from the National Register of Citizens (NRC) for Assam, while the son of a Pakistan Air Force pilot was conferred with one of India’s highest civilian honour.
Shergill was referring to Sami, whose father, Arshad Sami Khan, was a Pakistani Air Force veteran-turned-bureaucrat and fought against India in the 1965 war.
“You cannot hold a son responsible for the acts of his father and the father cannot be held responsible for the acts of his son,” Sami said in an interview.
“As far as my father is concerned, he was an honourable soldier. He exhibited patriotism for his country and I am proud of that. I learnt many lessons from him on how to be a loyal citizen,” he said.
Hours after the award was announced, the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) had objected to the Centre bestowing the award, claiming Sami was not an “original Indian citizen”.
There has been a big speculation that Sami was given the award as he has expressed support for the government’s contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Responding to Shergill’s criticism, Sami said, “I don’t see how the Congress will have any issues; no one from the top brass has said anything. A few juniors have tried to seek attention by doing these things.”
Congress senior leader Digvijaya Singh on Sunday also questioned about the need to bring in the CAA if someone like Sami can get Indian citizenship and a Padma Shri.
Sami, born in Lahore in Pakistan, first arrived in India on a one-year visitor’s visa on March 13, 2001. He was granted Indian citizenship with effect from January 1, 2016, after his Pakistani passport expired on May 26, 2015, and was not renewed there. Sami had requested the Centre to legalise his status on humanitarian grounds.
Maharashtra’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Monday termed Sami’s award as an “insult” to the 130 crore Indians and a “damage control” act by the NDA government “facing questions” over the CAA, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR).
“If anyone from Pakistan chants ‘Jai Modi’, he can now get citizenship of India as well as a Padma Shri award. Selection of Sami for the award is a damage control exercise,” said party spokesperson Nawab Malik.