Activists of a little known outfit, Republican Panther of India, on Saturday ransacked the office of Professor Suhas Palshikar, the NCERT adviser who resigned a day earlier to protest the removal of a cartoon on Dr BR Ambedkar from schoolbooks.
Two activists walked into his office inside the University of Pune campus and damaged furniture. Palshikar is the head of the political science department. The youths told him they wanted to discuss the controversial cartoon. He tried to get them to see reason, but failed.The police detained and later arrested the attackers, although Palshikar did not file a complaint against them.
“I have no grudge against the youths, nor have I filed a complaint. I merely expect the police to warn them,” he said.
Sachin Kharat, chief of the Republican Panther of India and grandson of Marathi writer Shankarrao Kharat, claimed responsibility for the attack.
The 60-year-old cartoon — reproduced in the Class XI political science textbook — shows Jawaharlal Nehru with a whip chasing Ambedkar,
asking him to speed up work on the Constitution.
A row over the cartoon had erupted in Parliament on Friday, forcing HRD minister Kapil Sibal to apologise and order its pullout from the textbook. Palshikar and NCERT co-adviser Yogendra Yadav had resigned in protest soon after.
The controversy continued to simmer a day later, with Dalit leader and Republican Party of India chief Ramdas Athawale demanding a criminal case against Palshikar and Yadav for “insulting a national icon”.
Yadav described the attack as “tragic”. “For someone who taught me Ambedkar, for him to be attacked in the name of Ambedkar… nothing can be more farcical,” he told a TV channel.
Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash said the Father of the Constitution himself would never have opposed the cartoon.