The Curious Case of CAA, Luxury Flats and Adnan Sami’s Padma Shri

Padma Shri Adnan Sami who was granted an Indian citizenship on humanitarian grounds now supports CAA.

4 min read
The selection of Adnan Sami for the the Padma Shri award has raised a debate.

The minute India’s fourth highest civilian honours were announced on 25 January 2020, the big question some people had was - ‘but why is Adnan Sami being given a Padma Shri?’

“Mujhko bhi toh lift kara de!” sang Adnan Sami in 2000, and the BJP government answered him 20 years later with a Padma Shri.

The Curious Case of CAA, Luxury Flats and Adnan Sami’s Padma Shri

While Adnan Sami promptly thanked the government for ‘lifting’ him...

“I am happy and honoured that a big award has been conferred to me. I am thankful to the people for loving me & my music, I would like to thank the Government of India. The award is a matter of pride for me and my family.”
Adnan Sami (to ANI)

some political parties declared the decision ‘an insult to the people of India’. Others dug out Adnan Sami’s father, Arshad Sami Khan’s records of being a fighter pilot with the Pakistan Air Force and having fought against India in the 1965 war.

Adnan Sami’s father Arshad Sami Khan (right) with former US President Richard Nixon.
Adnan Sami’s father Arshad Sami Khan (right) with former US President Richard Nixon.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

A report in The Week says, “The official entry on the Pakistan Air Force Museum website on Arshad Sami Khan notes, "he flew the maximum combat missions during the war with India"”. And what was the damage done? According to an entry in the Pakistan Air Force museum - 1 aircraft,15 tanks and 22 vehicles destroyed and 8 tanks and 19 vehicles damaged and 2 heavy guns were destroyed by him. That’s not all, the report also quotes an article in 2000 in Defence Journal, a website covering the Pakistani military, “Arshad Sami Khan was part of a Pakistan Air Force strike formation that attacked the Indian Air Force base at Pathankot on September 6, 1965. The Pakistan Air Force formation was flying F-86 Sabre fighters, supplied by the US. The Pakistan Air Force claimed its F-86 fighters, armed with rockets and bombs, destroyed "seven MiG-21s, five Mysteres and one Fairchild C-119 (a transport aircraft)" on the ground”.

But... but...but... should we be judging Sami for what his father did in his role as a Pakistan Air Force officer? Of course not, we’re far better than that.

As Adnan Sami himself asks, should a “son be held accountable or penalised for the acts of his parents?”

But again, would the same right-wing party in power and their minions have spared any other government if they had decided to honour Sami with a Padma Shri? No prizes for guessing the answer to that one. The very same troll army which is now defending Sami’s Padma Shri would have labeled him and his supporters as “anti-nationals” and members of the “tukde tukde gang” and whatnot.

Frankly, the question still merits to be asked, what exactly is Sami being honoured for? In the state’s words itself, a Padma award is given “to recognise works of distinction and is given for distinguished and exceptional achievements/service in all fields of activities/disciplines”.

Now, considering the current political climate, one doesn’t need to go into Sami’s limited popular tracks over the years to figure out what exactly were his “works of distinction” or what his “distinguished and exceptional achievements” are. Sami’s tweet from 10 December says it all. The singer repeats the same lines parroted by government officials regarding the CAA.

Having an erstwhile Pakistani (now Indian) Muslim endorse CAA is the biggest thumbs up the current government can get to counter their “misunderstood benevolence”. The biggest irony is that unlike any Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist or Parsi an Adnan Sami being a Muslim would not get an automatic nod for an “Indian citizenship” in a post-CAA world.

What’s more interesting is how the grant of Indian citizenship to Adnan Sami on “humanitarian grounds” in 2016 has now come under question. In a series of tweets, activist Saket Gokhale has raised some pertinent points:

  • As a Pakistani national, Adnan Sami bought 8 luxury flats from the Oberoi group in Mumbai without RBI’s permission in 2003.
  • In 2010, the ED ordered the singer to pay a penalty of Rs 20 lakhs and also ordered for the confiscation of the 8 flats since a Pakistani is not allowed to by immovable property in India.
  • After having applied for Indian citizenship, on 1 January 2016 Adnan Sami is issued a certificate of naturalization.
  • In 2019, an ED Tribunal quashes the earlier order, puts a penalty of Rs 50 lakhs on Sami but orders that his property will now not be confiscated since he is a citizen of India.

While we try to figure out WHY Adnan Sami is now not open to other Pakistani Muslims getting an Indian citizenship as easily as a person from any other religion can, let’s also hope this debate over the singer’s Padma Shri finds a “humanitarian” conclusion at the earliest.

(With inputs The Week, The Hindu)

Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!