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As Bengal fumes, Dina Nath Batra-led outfit denies suggesting removal of Tagore poem from school books

Defending itself against criticism from Bengal’s intellectuals and the masses, the Siksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas held a press conference in Kolkata on Wednesday where it even disassociated itself from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

kolkata Updated: Jul 27, 2017 14:39 IST
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times
Siksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas,RSS,Kolkata
Siksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas office bearers and their lawyer at the Kolkata Press Club on Wednesday(HT Photo)

Siksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas on Wednesday denied having suggested removal of Rabindranath Tagore’s works from NCERT text books, an allegation that opposition parties raised in Parliament on Monday and created a storm in West Bengal where Tagore is the greatest literary icon of all times.

The Nyas is headed by Dina Nath Batra, former head of Vidya Bharati, the education wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Defending itself against criticism from Bengal’s intellectuals and the masses, the Nyas held a press conference in Kolkata on Wednesday where it even disassociated itself from the RSS.

Read: No plans to remove Tagore from school books: Javadekar

“We never wanted removal of poems by Tagore for whom we have great respect. It is a deliberate attempt to malign us,” said Sushanta Sengupta, a lawyer representing the Nyas.

“The Tagore poem in question is part of the English syllabus, whereas all our suggestions are for history, political science and Hindi,” said Shiva Shankar Das, West Bengal secretary of the Nyas.

Following protest in the Lok Sabha by opposition parties over alleged suggestions to the NCERT by the Nyas – widely considered a pro-RSS organisation – Hindutva outfits in West Bengal faced widespread criticism from top Bengali intellectuals and social media users.

The NCERT has a target of publishing 4.25 crore books in 2017. (HT File Photo)

“Tagore wanted a society ‘where the mind is without fear’. It’s understandable that Tagore questions the interests of the RSS. This attempt to remove his poems calls for nationwide protest,” said poet Shankha Ghosh, a Jnanpith winner.

On Wednesday morning, RSS south Bengal prant pracharak Bidyut Mukherjee issued a statement saying the Sangh had no links with the Nyas and activities of the outfit could not be attributed to the RSS.

In the afternoon, Nyas representatives met the media and claimed that they had “nothing to do” with RSS. “We categorically deny having any link with RSS. Linking us with the RSS is a conspiracy,” said Sengupta.

This surprised most of the journalists because they were invited to the press conference by Bengal RSS functionaries.

Former principal, Dina Nath Batra, at Sarsawati Bal Mandir school at Naraina Vihar in New Delhi India, on Monday, July 28, 2014. (HT File Photo)

In a written statement, National secretary of the Nyas, Atul Kothari, said the organisation had suggested removal of non-Hindi words from Hindi text books.

“A lot of words from English, Urdu and Persian have been used in Hindi textbooks, which is against the country’s laws on use of language. On the other hand, Hindi and other Indian languages have not been used so much in English and Urdu books,” Kothari said in the statement.

Read: RSS’ Dina Nath Batra wants Tagore, Urdu words removed from NCERT textbooks

The Nyas’ recommendations reportedly came in response to NCERT’s call for suggestions for changes and corrections. The five-page recommendation titled ‘Distortions in History Books’ seeks several changes in the way the Hindus have been portrayed.

In the class XI book titled Rajnitik Siddhant, the Nyas has objected to the use of the sentence: ‘Nearly 2000 Muslims died in Gujarat in 2002’ (page 105) and has remarked that ‘the riots have been unnecessarily mentioned several times’ in the book.

First Published: Jul 27, 2017 14:39 IST