For the past several days, Pakistani-origin musician Adnan Sami has been at the centre of a raging political debate, with the ruling BJP saying he is highly deserving of the Padma Shri and the Opposition Congress questioning the merit of the award.
As parties across the spectrum debated Sami's contribution to India, the musician, who became an Indian citizen in 2016 and on Sunday expressed his "infinite gratitude" at being chosen for the government award, did not mince his words in hitting out at his critics.
Interestingly, as recently as September 2019, Sami got a reprieve of sorts from authorities, as the Appellate Tribunal for the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) quashed an order to confiscate eight flats that he bought in Mumbai between 2003 and 2005.
According to a report in The Hindu, In December 2010, the Enforcement Directorate Special Director (Mumbai) had directed confiscation of his flats and imposed a fine of Rs 20 lakh. The Appellate Tribunal, while setting aside the order of confiscation, increased the fine from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 50 lakh.
Sami got Indian citizenship on 1 January, 2016.
The musician was found to have bought the flats without taking permission from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). As mentioned in a report in The Times of India, the Central Government's rules require that a foreign national (which Sami was at the time he bought the flats) has to secure the RBI's permission before buying any immovable property.
While Sami had purchased two flats in Lokhandwala, he had purchased six other flats in Sky Garden (Oshiwara).
Sami, born in London to a Pakistani Air force veteran, 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.
Some Opposition leaders recently criticised the government's decision to award him the Padma Shri. Congress leader Jaiveer Shergill asked, "Is contribution 'Yogdan' to society or BJP government ''gungan'' (praise) new criteria? Is this New India?"
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Jan 29, 2020 23:41:40 IST