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Class 12 NCERT book drops ‘anti-Muslim’ from 2002 Gujarat riots

NCERT officials said that in the approved syllabus, which is used for preparing the textbooks, the word anti-Muslim doesn’t exist.

education Updated: Mar 25, 2018 12:11 IST
Neelam Pandey
Neelam Pandey
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Class 12,Gujarat riots,Anti Muslim riots
In this photograph taken on February 28, 2002, a policeman looks as fire rages in shops in Ahmedabad following an attack by a mob.(AFP File Photo)

Having earlier studied the 2002 “Anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat”, Class 12 political science students will now read about the “Gujarat riots” in an updated textbook.

The National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has made the change in the sub-head of a chapter, “Politics in India since Independence”, in the textbook.

However, apart from this and the opening line, the text in the passage on the 2002 Gujarat violence remains the same and continues to highlight critical observations about the role of the then BJP state government.

In the new textbooks, two changes have been made in the passage. Besides the title, the word “Muslim” has also been omitted from the first sentence of the passage.

The passage earlier read: “In February-March 2002, large-scale violence against Muslims took place in Gujarat”. In the updated books, it now reads: “In February-March 2002, large-scale violence took place in Gujarat”. The change has been made in a Class 12 textbook published in 2007 when the Congress-led UPA was in power.

NCERT officials said that in the approved syllabus, which is used for preparing the textbooks, the word anti-Muslim doesn’t exist. “The syllabus clearly uses the word Gujarat riots. However, the textbook had included the word “Anti-Muslim’. When we started the work on updating the books we were informed about it and we have reverted to “Gujarat riots,” said a senior NCERT official on condition of anonymity. HT had first reported about this proposed change on June 7, 2017.

It is learnt that the decision was taken at a meeting of the course review committee that includes representatives of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the NCERT.

According to official estimates, nearly 800 Muslims and more than 250 Hindus were killed in the violence in February-March, 2002. The violence was sparked by the death of 57 Hindu pilgrims who were burnt alive in a train compartment at a station in Godhra.

HT has a copy of both the old and updated textbooks.

NCERT officials maintained that it is a minor change.

The passage titled “Gujarat riots” reads: “In February-March 2002, large-scale violence took place in Gujarat. The immediate provocation for this violence was an incident that took place at a station called Godhra. A bogey of a train that was returning from Ayodhya and was full of karsevaks (volunteers) was set on fire. Fifty-seven people died in that fire. Suspecting the hands of Muslims in setting fire to the bogey, large-scale violence against Muslims began in many parts of Gujarat from the next day. This violence continued for almost a whole month.”

The passage on the role of institutions and government remains the same as well. “The National Human Rights Commission criticised the Gujarat government’s role in failing to control violence, provide relief to the victims and prosecute the perpetrators of this violence. The EC ordered the assembly elections to be postponed.”

The passage refers to the 1984 riots that followed the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and says: “As in the case of anti-Sikh riots of 1984, Gujarat riots show that the governmental machinery also becomes susceptible to sectarian passions”.

“This review is an ongoing process and before every reprint we do incorporate new acceptable feedback and also update the information with the latest developments. We have made other changes too such as including information on demonetization, digital literacy, GST (goods and services tax) and updated the figures too,” said another senior NCERT official.

First Published: Mar 24, 2018 07:12 IST