Sherif Kottapurath (MITA) refutes allegations of terrorist links
Sherif Kottapurath, March 2, 2008
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.
Let me start by affirming my faith in free speech and freedom of press. These are the values that help keep a society in check and prevent it from sliding into tyranny and fascism. But, unbridled freedom, deliberate maligning and rumour mongering if done in the name of freedom of press will have the opposite effect. It leads to breeding of suspicion, unrest and civil strife.
India started its life burdened with social and economic inequalities. Many years of effort did not help erase it. Though there was a slow reduction in inequalities in some cases, there was increase in others.
These have been recorded in various studies conducted over the last 60 years. Even in private industry, where we have been claiming that merit is the only criterion for hiring, clear biases on the basis of caste and religion has been documented by a recent study. The dramatic growth of IT industry created an opportunity where such biases where non-existent, except due to historic educational backwardness of certain sections. These sections of society have all started working on removing this historic inequality. The IT industry also created a microcosm of the society where language, caste and religious differences were irrelevant and true feelings of secularism and pride of India as a nation were developed.
Highly exaggerated and speculative reporting in the last few weeks have started destroying even this microcosm of equal opportunity and true Indian pride. Many reports have been carried with no checking of facts, and sometimes flying in the face against what the police themselves are saying. These were carried with no thought on the impact on lives of innocent individuals or the well being of the nation itself. One of the worst examples of this kind of reporting was a report carried in Times of India, written by Mr. N.D. Shiva Kumar on the 28th of February. Titled “New network of terror techies comes to light”, this article falsely imputed that a group called MITA is a terror network providing logistic and financial support to anti national groups. It further implied that I am absconding and the police is looking out for me.
An environment has been created where the press can imply any random person to be a terror suspect, and the so called terror suspects are immediately judged by the press and fascist sections of the society to be terrorists with no due process available to them. In most cases, the people who are thus implicated have no backing or support and are isolated by the society and thus are doomed even when they are innocent.
By defaming me using baseless allegations and innuendos, Times of India has created irreparable damage to me and to my company. I am a highly respected IT professional who has helped create the market for Indian IT services abroad. You can see from the various testimonials as to how very senior captains of Indian IT industry regard me, professionally and personally. My company is in the process of bidding for and negotiating many multi-crore contracts with Indian Software companies and the damage this report has done to my company is immense.
I have requested the person in Bangalore who has known me for the longest time, from before my marriage, to speak about what he knows and how this report has impacted him. Mr Rajendra Khare had a room next to mine during our Engineering College times and we have worked together and been in touch with each other ever since. He was the Managing Director of Broadcom, India, one of the very respected semiconductor companies. He was the founding chairperson of Indian Semiconductor Association. I would request Mr. Khare to now speak.
The Times of India carried an extremely defamatory report on 28-02-2008 under the caption "New network of terror techies comes to light" and with a front page intro of similar caption. This was the worst example of how a reputed newspaper like Times Of India has resorted to yellow journalism, wherein the reporter has reported an absolutely false and baseless information to increase its readership.
By defaming a respectable professional like Mr K.M Sherif whose contribution to the development of the software industry is well known both as a pioneering software professional who helped establish Wipro's Global R&D presence in the USA and as former Chief Technology Officer of Sun Micro System in India. He is currently a founding Director and CEO of iCalibrator Training Pvt. Ltd. whose mission is to improve the skills of Indian IT professionals. The Times Of India has invited upon itself criminal proceedings which have been filed in the 11th ACMM court for defamation under section 499, 500, 501 and 502 of the Indian Penal Code. A Legal notice has also been issued for damages in a sum of Rs 5,00,00,000/- ( Five Crore ) against the owners of Times of India i.e. Bennet and Colman India Ltd and the reporter, publisher and editor of the Times of India. The civil suit will be filed in due course. We will also be moving other forums like the Press Council of India for appropriate action.
The Times of India falsely reported that the police is looking out for Mr. K.M. Sherif imputing that he is absconding. The report further falsely imputes that MITA is a terror organization.
MITA is an informal group of IT professionals who want to help and give back to the society from what they have achieved and earned. MITA has sponsored the education of many poor children, held career counseling sessions on an annual basis and conducted career improvement sessions for those in the IT industry. This group has never been used for either logistic or financial support for any banned organizations or known members of any such organization. The only time mails have ever gone out in the mailing lists (or any announcement made in any gathering) for financial contributions, is in the case of masjids coming up in areas where IT professionals work/live or for sponsoring education of poor children or for well known NGOs working in the health/educational fields.
The group has also never operated in a stealth mode. No IT professional who has requested to be associated (by just sending an e-mail or calling up) has ever been refused, as membership is nothing more than adding one’s name to the mailing list. Two or three times every year, large gatherings are organized which have been addressed by eminent IT professionals like Mr Subroto Bagchi, COO of MindTree consulting and Dr. Sridhar Mitta MD and CTO of e4e. Such gatherings have also been addressed by public servants and IAS officers. Smaller gatherings (once in 1 or 2 months) address issues like preparing for IIM entrance, choosing between technical and management career paths, entrepreneurship which are all topics of interest to any IT professional.
Mr. K.M. Sherif has worked in the IT industry for more than 25 years, including 10 years at Wipro, 8 years at Sun Microsystems, USA and 5 years in India as C.T.O of Sun’s India Engineering Center. He is the Chief Executive officer of a reputed IT firm whose clients include Infosys, Wipro, MindTree Consulting among others. All of his friends and acquaintances, which include top leaders of Indian IT industry, can vouch for his integrity and patriotism. It is unfortunate that Times of India did not bother to check any of the claims or contact any member of the organization for clarification. Instead it chose to slander and defame Mr. K.M. Sherif and the organization.
This report and similar reports have done irreparable damage to the careers of all Muslim students aspiring to get into the IT industry and also to those who are already working in IT firms by planting suspicion and mistrust in the minds of people.
Times of India should take punitive action against the reporter and publish a prominent, front page apology while publishing the details given above.
Letters of Support
I am Kalyan Banerjee, I work in the IT industry for last 22 years, and feel proud being an Indian. I have worked closely with Sherif in my early professional career for many years, and I must admit a lot of my early success, I attribute to him. Sherif was (and is) an outstanding professional, and anybody who has worked with him will vouch for his high integrity. To people like me, he was a role model, and we grew up in our professions admiring him, hoping one day we can be like him. I continue to know him and remain connected with him, and with time, the respect has only deepened.
I have very high regard for his integrity, patriotism and peaceful nature. I know him as a very religious Muslim and as someone who is very helpful to any one in need (whether Muslim or non Muslim). Accusing Sherif of violent or anti-national acts is preposterous.
We continue to interact personally and professionally, and I feel proud to be associated with a person as deeply peaceful, patriotic, and humble as Sherif.
I believe people like Sherif who create lives and dreams must be celebrated as the true icons of modern India, irrespective of their religion, language, or social status. Instead we have stories like these that are obviously false (like Sherif being wanted by the police, or providing logistics and financial support to anti national elements); such acts only expose motives not aligned with ethics, truth, or fair play. Also reflects the communal biases running deep in sections of our media, doing immeasurable harm to the social fabric of our nation. I am certain an overwhelming majority of my countrymen condemn such divisive motives, and will not allow such forces to succeed.
Sherif’s attempts at helping the not so privileged sections of our society (whether Muslims or non-Muslims) are in tune with his patriotic and religious moorings and serve as an example for all of us to emulate.
Kalyan Kumar Banerjee
Senior Vice President, MindTree Consulting
I the undersigned have known Mr. K.M. Sherif for approximately 28 years, and have interacted with him professionally and personally. I have known him since my college days at Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani. He has been a very dedicated student and an excellent individual in all aspects – studies, at work. We had recently met during our Silver Jubilee reunion at Pilani where he gave a talk on Integrity, career planning, etc. He was admired at the Institute for being in the top 2-5% of our batch. I have very high regard for his integrity, patriotism and peaceful nature. I know him as a pious Muslim and as someone who is very helpful to any one in need (whether Muslim or non Muslim). Many of us have benefited from his academic and technical assistance. It is impossible for him to associate himself with any violent or anti-national act. It is also difficult to conceive his association with any person whom he knows to be inciting violence and anti-national activities.
I have heard of MITA and I think that the kind of initiatives that MITA takes is essential and it is important in order to better integrate Muslims into the national main stream. I do get to see the young engineers (IT professionals & those working in high tech industries) taking initiatives to bring up the education of the under privileged. Many of the MNCs and other organizations contribute to the society as a way of doing our mite. In this context, it is very painful for me to note that one single individual or an organization with a good motive to be singled out based on the secular/ minority basis.
(D R Seetharaman)
Director – R&D, Synopsys India Pvt Limited
Date 1 March, 2008
I the undersigned have known Mr. K.M. Sherif for 30 long years since my days in engineering education and ever since he has been one amongst my closest friends. I also had an opportunity to work together for several years with him and then later interact with him often on professional, personal and family front. He is clearly one of the most brilliant and patriotic persons I have come across and not only me, but everyone in our circle have had the deepest regard for his sheer brilliance, integrity, professionalism and above all loving nature. He returned from a lucrative career in US only to add his might in serving the cause of nation building.
I have known Sheriff as someone who is a deeply spiritual and a truly pious Muslim believing in tenets of Islam. It is his love for people and the deep urge to help others around him that he has been taking up initiatives in community education for long and further the cause of homogenous integration within the Society rising above sects or religions. It is impossible to even think that Sherif can be associated with any person or organization that does not have the good of the country and the society at large. MITA, the association that he helped form, is a thoroughly professional and respectable body that is aiming to do what a number of successful professionals ought to do to help the under-privileged within their communities to gain education and benefit from association with other professionals. Thanks to his stature and well meaning objectives, MITA has been able to involve luminaries from the IT industry irrespective of their religious origins. I believe we need more organizations like MITA to connect with the lower strata of the society and serve the cause of nation building from the roots.
Any disrespectful reference to organizations like MITA and people of Sherif’s integrity in the press can not only cause an irreparable damage to their reputation but also kill the initiatives people like him take to do their duty to human kind and to our country. On the contrary steps should be taken to celebrate the cause that people like Sherif and MITA have undertaken and show case the positive benefits of what they are aiming to do in order to encourage more people to engage in acts of giving and building the society from roots and bring about economic liberation through sharing education and professional experiences.
Name : Rajendra Kumar Khare
Designation : Chairman and Managing Director, IndusEdge Innovations
Date 1 March, 2008
I the undersigned have known Mr. K.M. Sherif for 30 years, and have interacted with him professionally and personally. We studied in BITS, Pilani together. He was one of the top rankers in the Institute. He was very studious, soft spoken and very helpful to all his fellow batchmates.
Subsequently I had the fortune of working with him in Wipro Infotech, R&D in mid-‘80s. He was one of the key members of the Operating Systems team and his colleagues and the senior management of Wipro had high regard for his contributions. I personally learnt a lot from him professionally and he has been my role model all my life.
He participates with me, my friends and my family during Hindu festivals – Holi, Diwali etc. This indicates his respect for all religions. We have also visited his home and met his family on couple of occasions during Id, our get-together with batchmates when they come to India from US and during the launch of his company.
I have very high regard for his integrity, patriotism and peaceful nature. I know him as a pious Muslim and as someone who is very helpful to any one in need (whether Muslim or non Muslim). Many of us have benefited from his academic and technical assistance during college days and subsequently as a colleague. It is impossible for him to associate himself with any violent or anti-national act. It is also difficult to conceive his association with any person whom he knows to be inciting violence and anti-national activities.
I have heard of the activities of MITA. We think that the kind of initiatives that MITA takes is essential and it is important in order to better integrate Muslims into the national main stream. Other disadvantaged, marginalized and ostracized sections of the society should also take up such activities. Such organizations should be encouraged, rather than being subject to witch hunting.
Designation: Chief Operating Officer, Indusedge Innovations Pvt. Ltd.
I am on travel to USA. Heard about a news article linking you in some anti-national activities. I am highly disturbed on such unauthenticated news appearing that too linking a fine gentleman like you.
I know you for more than 20 years and have seen many youngsters looking upon you as role model for your knowledge, sincerity, righteousness and helping nature. If freedom of press leads to all being painted by same brush, that will lead to loss of confidence in the media than a fine person like you.
I pray this event leaves you unhurt and look forward to seeing the same zeal and energy in you to lead the younger generation in the right path of national pride and peace and prosperity.
Jani, President & CEO,
R&D Services, MindTree Consulting
I know Mr. Sherif since 1988. I have worked with him as a colleague, as a customer when he was with SUN and now as consumer of his services in iCalibrator. Sherif is one of the best Technologist in Operating Systems space that our country has produced. Today he has embarked on the key challenge of Indian IT industry i.e; improving the skill level of aspiring IT professionals. He is the finest gentleman with highest standards of integrity, with a large heart to help deserving students and an excellent friend.
Rajesh Ram Mishra
CTO, Telecom and Product Engineering, Wipro Technologies
I was pained to see the name of my friend K M Sherif reported in a wrong context in the Times of India News paper dated 28th Feb. I have known Sherif for the last 26 years very intimately - from early 1980s when we started our career at Wipro. He left Wipro after 10 years of bright career. In US he worked for a very reputed organization for several years. After he came back from US , we have been meeting regularly . I have known Sherif as a highly intelligent and helpful person. He is very active in his professional life providing us with very valuable technical consultancy when ever required. He is a simple and pious Muslim who is engaged in doing only good things for the society. I have very high regard for his integrity, patriotism and peaceful nature. I can vouch that Sherif will not get associated with or indulge in activities that are mentioned in the news paper.
I strongly believe that people like Sherif can lead us to create a better society. I am sure he is helping to integrate Muslims into the national main stream. We must encourage people like him and support him.
Chief technology Officer
I the undersigned have known Mr. Sherif Kottapurath and his family since 2000. I have had the privilege of staying in his home on several occasions and his children are like my own. During this time I have developed the highest regard for his sense of public service and the love he bears for this land. He returned from the US where he held a very lucrative job in order to be of service to his country. I know him as a pious Muslim and as someone who is very helpful to any one in need. I have known him to go out of his way to help poor people and to spend his time and energy especially in the field of education, helping young people learn computer skills so that they can get jobs. I simply cannot believe that he has any association with any person whom he knows to be inciting violence and anti-national activities.
I have heard of the activities of MITA, and have been invited to speak at MITA meetings. I believe that the kind of initiatives that MITA takes are essential in order to better integrate Muslims into the national main stream. Every meeting of MITA that I participated in focused on issues of social development, national integration, education and presenting Islam to society in its real form as a religion of peace and harmony. Mr. Sherif as its President exemplifies these issues and is a living model of what I believe a good practicing Muslim should be in our society. I wish there were more organizations like this, working to help young Muslims integrate better with our society and more people like Sherif Kottapurath.
I was very sad and surprised to read the report in the Times of India. It was written in language that was insinuating and insulting and cast aspersions on a man who is honorable and worthy of respect. Is this what reporting has been reduced to? Can’t we sell papers without assassinating someone’s character? It is a matter of great regret and something that I wish all good, sensible, thinking people will get together and dialogue and resolve. Let us report facts. Let us not attempt to use innuendo and veiled references to steer thought in directions that may serve some vested interest but which do no good to our already troubled and divided society.
Mirza Yawar Baig
To whomsoever it may concern
Feb 29, 2008
I, the undersigned have known Mr. K.M. Sherif for the last 27 years. He was my senior in college and was my first professional mentor. I have interacted with him professionally and personally. I have very high regard for his intelligence, commitment to build a strong technological community, integrity, patriotism and peaceful nature.
I know him as a pious Muslim and as someone who is very helpful to any one in need (whether Muslim or non Muslim). Many of us have benefited from his academic and technical assistance. It is impossible for him to associate himself with any violent or anti-national act. It is also difficult to conceive his association with any person whom he knows to be inciting violence and anti-national activities.
I am fairly certain that his name is being pulled into unnecessary controversy by people with vested interests.
N S Parthasarathy
Exec VP – Global Delivery and Operations
I the undersigned have known Mr. K.M. Sherif since 2002, and have interacted with him professionally and personally. Sherif reported to me as Chief Technical Officer for Sun Microsystems' India Engineering Centre during my tenure as Vice President of Sun Microsystems India Engineering Centre from 2002 through 2005 and have been in touch with him ever since then in a personal capacity. I have very high regard for his integrity, patriotism and peaceful nature. He is also someone that is highly respected in the Indian software community for his significant contributions to both industry as well as the technical community in Bangalore. I know him as a pious Muslim and as someone who is very helpful to any one in need (whether Muslim or non Muslim). It is impossible for him to associate himself with any violent or anti-national act. It is also difficult to conceive his association with any person whom he knows to be inciting violence and anti-national activities.
Mr. K.M. Sherif is my batchmate. In college I admired him for his great intellect and enthusiasm to bring about positive changes. I have a lot of respect for him as I consider him to be a person with high integrity. As I understand him, he is someone who is very helpful to any one in need. Many of us have benefited from his academic and technical assistance. I feel that it is impossible for him to associate himself with any violent or anti-national act. It is also difficult to conceive his association with any person whom he knows to be inciting violence and anti-national activities.
Software Quality Consultant