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Associated Journals to revive Urdu newspaper ‘Qaumi Awaz’, hires Zafar Agha as chief editor

MUMBAI: After re-launching ‘National Herald’ as a digital news platform, The Associated Journals, a company founded in 1937 by Jawaharlal Nehru, is resuming the publication of its Urdu newspaper ‘Qaumi Awaz’ along with its digital version.

The company has appointed veteran journalist Zafar Agha as editor-in-chief of ‘Qaumi Awaz’ and the digital property with immediate effect. He will be responsible for building and leading the editorial team and its digital and related assets.

‘Qaumi Awaz’ had temporarily suspended publication in 2008.

The Associated Journals launched the beta version of its English website in 2016, spearheaded by Neelabh Mishra as the chief editor of its Hindi and English newspapers as well as digital properties.

Zafar Agha, a senior journalist and a well-known columnist with nearly three decades of print and electronic experience, started his career in 1980 with the first Indian news magazine, ‘Link’. In a span of a little over two decades, he worked for many leading newspapers including The Business and Political Observer, India Today and The Patriot.

He has been writing columns for both national and foreign newspapers. His TV programme ‘Guftagu’ on ETV (Urdu) was widely seen and perceived as the most-watched programme in Urdu.

The tagline of ‘Qaumi Awaz’ is ‘Freedom is in Peril, Defend it with All Your Might’. The publication and digital website will follow the same editorial vision and principles of Pandit Nehru.

It will seek to give voice to the vision of Pandit Nehru and continue to occupy a liberal, progressive, secular space, furthering the best values of the freedom movement—that of building a modern, democratic, just, equitable, liberal and socially harmonious nation, free of sectarian strife.

Launched in 1938 as a daily newspaper in English, ‘National Herald’ was in the vanguard of the Indian freedom movement. During its halcyon days and even in the decades after independence, its group of newspapers, including ‘Navjivan’ in Hindi and ‘Qaumi Awaz’ in Urdu, lent their voice to the efforts of building a peaceful, liberal and democratic nation imbued with rationality and scientific temper that their founder had inculcated.

The Associated Journals has been in the news for wrong news. In 2012, former Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy, who is now with BJP, had filed a private complaint in a Delhi court alleging that Congress president Sonia Gandhi, vice-president Rahul Gandhi and other office bearers of the party have committed fraud by acquiring The Associated Journals, which is a public limited company, through Young Indian, a privately held company, in which Sonia and Rahul own 76%.

He also alleged that AJL became a wholly-owned company of Young Indian by merely paying Rs 50 lakh and in this manner Young India acquired complete control of AJL, which had real estate assets of at least Rs 2,000 crore in prime locations in New Delhi, Lucknow, Bhopal, Mumbai, Indore, Patna, Panchkula and other places.

Swami had also claimed that they had fraudulently got the publication rights of the ‘National Herald’ and ‘Qaumi Awaz’ newspapers, with real estate properties in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. He alleged that the acquired place was given by the government only for newspaper purposes, but was used for running a passport office with rental income amounting to millions of rupees.