NCERT Class 12 textbooks won’t describe 2002 Gujarat riots as ‘anti-Muslim’
The 2002 Gujarat carnage will no longer be called “anti-Muslim riots” in NCERT textbooks and will be instead referred to as the “Gujarat riots” to describe one of the worst communal violence in India since Independence.
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 National Council of Educational Research And Training (NCERT), sources said.
The change will be made in a Class 12 textbook, published in 2007 during the Congress-led UPA government’s tenure.
According to official estimates, nearly 800 Muslims and more than 250 Hindus were killed in the violence in February-March, 2002, and is considered one of the worst communal riots in the country since Independence. The violence was sparked by the death of 57 Hindu pilgrims who were burnt alive in a train compartment at a station in Godhra.
The move could rile the minority community that bore the brunt of the weeks-long violence. Over the past three years, changes in textbooks have been a controversial issue. Several BJP-ruled states, including Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana and Maharashtra, tweaked schoolbooks in a way that triggered opposition allegations that these governments were trying to saffronise education.
The NCERT – the government’s think thank on school education -- termed the move a routine to keep textbooks updated.
“Points raised by CBSE have already been taken up by NCERT. Changes will be made and it will be reflected once the book is reprinted by the end of the year,” a senior NCERT official told HT seeking anonymity.
“This review is an ongoing process and before every reprint we do incorporate new acceptable feedback and also update the information. This year we are doing it in a more planned and comprehensive manner.”
The official also said the NCERT is carrying out a review of all textbooks to ensure that the latest developments are included.
A chapter titled “Politics in India since Independence” (page 187) in the Class XII political science textbook has a passage under the heading “Anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat”.
“In February-March 2002, large-scale violence against Muslims took place in Gujarat …. A bogey of a train that was returning from Ayodhya and was full of karsevaks was set on fire... Suspecting the hands of Muslims in setting fire to the bogey, large-scale violence against Muslims began in many parts of Gujarat...” the passage reads.
It also talks about the National Human Rights Commission criticising the Gujarat government’s role in failing to control violence and provide relief to victims. Narendra Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat at that time.
Sources said the meeting decided to change only the subtitle, as of now. HT has a copy of the minutes of the meeting.
Besides NCERT and CBSE representatives, teachers of some private schools also attended the review meeting on May 11 in Delhi. The CBSE reviewed the book on its own and sent a report to the NCERT following which the meeting was called, the sources added.
In a separate development on May 13, the NCERT also decided to replace the map of East and South East Asia in the same textbook that showed ‘Aksai Chin’, an area in Kashmir under China’s control, as a disputed area.