'Victim of My Name,' Says IAS Officer Niyaz Khan Over 'The Kashmir Files' Tweet

On 18 March, Khan tweeted that movies should be made on the "killings of large number of Muslims across states.”

3 min read

Days after he courted controversy over his tweet on The Kashmir Files, Madhya Pradesh-based IAS officer Niyaz Ahmed Khan alleged that he was being targeted for his religious identity.

"I have been a victim of my name, especially my surname Khan. As soon as they hear my name, they label me as a Muslim – and it doesn't matter that I am as secular as anyone can be," Khan said.

Director Vivek Agnihotri's The Kashmir Files, which focuses on the events surrounding the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits between the late 1980s and early 1990s, has triggered a myriad of responses, including anti-Muslim hate speeches and sloganeering in theatres.

On 18 March, Khan tweeted that movies should be made on the "killings of [a] large number of Muslims across several states.”

"The Kashmir Files shows the pain of Brahmins. They should be allowed to live safely in Kashmir with honour. The producer must also make a movie to show the killings of a large number of Muslims across several states. Muslims are not insects but human beings and citizens of [the] country," he tweeted, prompting strong opposition from the government in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led state.

Niyaz Khan is a promoted IAS officer and is currently posted at the Public Works Department (PWD) of Madhya Pradesh as Deputy Secretary.

In an interview with The Quint, he clarified, "I haven't watched the movie, but I have read the summaries and reviews of the movie, the plot, and the storyline. I am not against the movie. I said that it's a good movie, and such movies should also be made about the Muslim massacres happening across India."

The Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led government has made the movie tax-free in Madhya Pradesh and declared a day's leave for police personnel to watch the movie with their families.

Accusation of Fanning 'Anarchy, Animosity'

Speaking to the media on 23 March, the state's Home Minister, Dr Narottam Mishra, said that he (Niyaz Khan) was crossing the limits (Lakshman Rekha) and that a show-cause notice would be served on him.

Earlier, responding to Khan's tweet, the state's Medical Education Minister, Vishvas Sarang, had accused him of 'Firqa Parasti' (sectarianism), adding that he should be removed from the PWD.

"Any administrative officer should concentrate on his duty. Talking about anarchy and animosity in this way, talking about Hindu-Muslim in this way, their thinking behind the scenes trying to establish themselves among a class of people not good," he had said.

To that, Khan tells The Quint,

"The BJP doesn't like me – and the only reason is my name. In the last 14-15 years, I have been transferred nearly 20 times, just because of my surname. I have suffered on-field, off-field, in promotions. I have suffered a lot not because my surname is bad or wrong, but because they hate this name."

However, he adds, "I would again reiterate that I did nothing wrong. I just talked about the condition of Muslims and their treatment in our country – and that's my right. I am just putting forward my opinion and I am constitutionally entitled to it."

'Movie Good, but Political Advantage Out of It Is Wrong'

On Twitter, Khan had also congratulated the makers of the movie and suggested the earnings from the movie could go towards the welfare of Kashmiri Pandits.

His tweet read, "Income of Kashmir Files reached 150 crore. Great. People have given a lot of respect for Kashmiri Brahmins' feelings. I would respect (request) film producer to transfer all earnings to the Brahmin children's education and construction of homes for them in Kashmir. It will be a great charity [sic]."

Responding to this tweet, Agnihotri had asked the IAS officer to meet and discuss how he could help the people from the royalty the officer receives from his books.
Khan has written seven books, one on the infamous don Abu Salem.
"I am not a bestselling author. There is no significant income from the books. But if one of my books were to become bestselling, I would happily donate the income for the welfare of Kashmiri Pandits."
Niyaz further said.

Finally, he adds that he doesn't even mind joining politics in the future, adding that "all political parties are trying to take advantage of people's emotions" in our country.

"They are trying to sell the tears, agony, and pain of my countrymen to fill up their pockets – and I will fight against this if needed through politics," he said.

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