Pictures of Jesus Christ holding a cigarette in one hand and a beer can in another in a book for primary classes has triggered a row in Meghalaya and the state government is now contemplating legal action against the New Delhi-based publisher.
The objectionable pictures of Jesus Christ found in the cursive writing exercise copies at a private school in capital Shillong was brought to the notice of the influential church by some guardians.
"We are shocked and hurt by this act where Jesus Christ has been portrayed in a highly objectionable manner...we condemn the total lack of respect for religions by the publisher," Dominc Jala, the Archbishop of Shillong, told IANS.
New Delhi-based Skyline Publication produced the copies meant for students of Class 1.
"Just imagine students at such an impressionable age being dished out objectionable images which are nothing but blasphemous," said T. Jrwa, another church leader.
The Meghalaya government acted swiftly by confiscating all the copies from the school and also from book shops.
"Although private schools are not bound by the prescribed text books of the Meghalaya Board of Secondary Education, still we took immediate action by seizing all the copies and if deemed fit we might even take legal steps," said Meghalaya Education Minister Ampareen Lyngdoh.
An estimated 72 percent of the 2.32 million people in Meghalaya are Christians.