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Home Critical Analysis/Archives Report on Punjab Disturbances of 1953
Report of The Court of Inquiry

ADULT LITERACY FUND

Our surprises are not yet over. Of the money expended on the press, Rs. 2,03,000 D. P. R. used it as “Literate” Adult Fund. were diverted from the Adult Literacy Fund, an account which, as the name shows, was intended by the Legislative Assembly to educate illiterate adults. Mir Nur Ahmad, however, was misled by the word “Literacy”, and devoted it to the education of “literate” adults. For you cannot educate an illiterate person by placing the ‘Zamindar’ or the ‘Afaq’ in his hands. It is only a person already sufficiently literate who can avail of a newspaper. When Mir Nur Ahmad made the proposal, he asked Government to keep it “confidential”. That was, he says, because it was “political” expenditure. We think a better reason was that if the matter became public, it would evoke criticism. He admits that he expected a certain amount of criticism. In fact, the Education Department had objected to the decision. It was not the object to educate the illiterate. But he says he was to implement a scheme adopted by Government, and it was the Government itself which decided to transfer money from another fund. Then comes a frank confession. “The object of our scheme was to give financial help to a certain type of papers, not to educate the illiterate”.

He made a note on 30th July 1952 in file Ex. D. E. 250 which shows that there was a previous discussion with the Chief Minister. The note itself went up to the Chief Secretary and the Chief Minister, to show that Mir Nur Ahmad was not acting “on his own”. Mr. Daultana admitted that the Education Minister could himself cause the appropriation without reference to the Chief Minister. Then the file was shown to him, and he said: “If the file states that he discussed the case with me, he must have done so. This was because it was a matter of policy.”

And it is doubtful whether the literates were made further literate. Papers may not have been sent at all. The total number of copies of papers to which the Directorate subscribed was  “far in excess of” the total number of institutions for  which they were intended, admits the Director. One list showed that whereas the number of copies ordered was 350, the number of institutions for which they were required was 330, but sometimes copies of different papers (that, is to say, more than one copy) were supplied to the same institution. Further, the file does not show that the institutions were informed that they would receive a certain paper for a certain period. It was, therefore, left open to the papers themselves to send or not to send a copy.

One of these papers, the ‘Afaq’ virtually belonged to Government. The ‘Afaq’. This should have been evident from the fact that altogether Rs. 126,285 were paid to it. It was a weekly paper and became a daily in the middle of June 1951 as soon as a first payment of Rs. 42,000 was made to it. Mir Nur Ahmad said he had no personal connection with the paper, but his son Mir Iqbal Ahmad forthwith became Advertisements Manager thereof at Rs. 400 a month. “He has no special training in advertising, but he is a graduate. He was never before employed in any paper. He did export business in salt”. Many days afterwards, Mr. Yaqub Ali Khan, counsel for Mr. Daultana, reminded him that Mir Iqbal Ahmad was employed before the Partition as Publicity Officer under the Government of India at Rs. 300 a month, and Mir Nur Ahmad explained that this qualification had not been mentioned by him previously been use he thought the question put to him related to any special training for the Job. However, Mir Nur Ahmad added that the Chief Minister was interested in the ‘Afaq’ “politically”, and had once sent to him a cheque for Rs. 5,000 as a donation to the ‘Afaq’. As to this, Mr. Daultana says some Muslim League workers had given him this amount specifically to be donated to the ‘Afaq’ in lieu of its services to the cause of the Muslim League. However that may be, the money went to Mr. Iqbal Ahmad’s account, as a shareholder in the Afaq Ltd. In other words, Mir Iqbal Ahmad woke up one day to find himself holding shares of the nominal value of Rs. 5,000, without paying for them, but his father says it was not that money which came from Lyallpur or Mr. Daultana. “The governing director offered him the post of General-Manager, and, I believe” (with emphasis on ‘believe’) “asked him to accept these shares in view of the extended duties which he was going to bear”. We must say Mir Nur Ahmad has a talent for explanation, and I only wish he had used it in publicity against the agitation.

A number of exhibits were then shown to him, and it appears from these that he was not only contributing to the ‘Afaq’ but also advising it and guiding its policy.

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