Pooja Shall New Delhi 19 May 2018
National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah has asked the author of Calling Sehmat, the book which inspired the Alia Bhatt starrer Raazi, to keep the identity of the Indian spy she plays a secret.
The office of the former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister confirmed that he wrote to Harinder Sikka, whose novel was published in 2008.
In his letter dated May 16, Abdullah reminded Sikka that a decade ago, the author had agreed to “guard identities, which was commendable.”
“Please keep it that way,” he wrote.
“There are millions who work and pray for one Hindustan. Kashmiris are wonderful, simple and peace-loving people. And those who visit the Valley will vouch for their integrity. I wish you success,” he said in conclusion.
Sources claim that when Farooq Abdullah was informed about the manuscript of the book, he realised that real identities may be revealed and it wouldn’t be difficult to locate Sehmat’s family which could put the family at risk. After reading the manuscript, Abdullah advised the author to change names and present it as a fictional account. The author agreed. Now, when there was a chance that identities could be publically revealed at an event in June, Abdullah penned this letter (printed on his official letterhead).
‘AN INDIAN ICON’
Sikka told India Today he would leave the decision to people who knew the former spy, who is no more.
He said was “in touch” with “people close” to her. “Her son didn’t raise an objection anymore to release photographs, but some close ones have,” he said. “I have a meeting soon with them, and then I will leave [the] final decision to them.”
But what are Harinder Sikka’s own views?
“Does Sehmat belong to any one person? She is the nation’s figure,” he said.
“Sehmat didn’t want the photograph to be released. Since she has passed away, I feel the safety issue doesn’t arise anymore. I want her contribution to be acknowledged, as she rightfully deserved,” he added.
Sikka hailed her “strong sacrifice for this country”, and said she should be made an Indian icon.
Alia Bhatt’s Raazi has taken the nation by storm, and has enjoyed both critical acclaim and commercial success. It’s the story of a 20-year-old who later lived as a recluse in Punjab, battled depression, and turned to spirituality.
Sikka tracked down Sehmat when her son revealed about her existence. His book, which highlights the dangers faced by unacknowledged agents during wartime, took him eight years to write.
Farooq Abdullah was one of the dignitaries who released the book in 2008. ( India Today )