New Delhi: The Indian Council of Cultural Relations is gearing up for a grand international celebration of 17th century Persian-Urdu poet Mirza Abdul Qadir Bedil, but the guest list has an obvious exception: Pakistan.
Around 60 scholars from Uzbekistan, Kazakastan, Kyrgystan, Afghanistan and Iran will take part along with their Indian counterparts in celebrating the poet whose birthplace is in Azimabad near Patna and grave Bāġ-e Bīdel (Garden of Bīdel) in Delhi.
"We are organizing academic exchanges of international nature on eminent Asian personalities in India bringing countries, intellectuals and writers together. Bedil is huge in name," Amarendra Khatua, Director-General ICCR, told News18.
Although there is no official mention why Pakistan is kept out of the list, News18 learns it is part of the larger government plan to isolate Islamabad internationally. ICCR comes under the aegis of the Ministry of External Affairs.
"In Central Asia Bidel is as big a rockstar as Michael Jackson. Afghanistan has Bedil Studies in their curriculum. Though in India and Pakistan he is not so much celebrated in popular discourse. Having said that wherever Urdu etymology is taught Bedil makes an entry," writer Rakshanda Jalil said.
Urdu activist Kamana Prasad who has earlier been a cultural coordinator of Tehran Festival by ICCR said Bedil is loved in Afghanistan and countries in Central Asia and is known for his free-thinking.
"Maybe ICCR is concentrating only on Persian speaking countries, which Pakistan is not,” she said,