Saffronisation of education: NCERT drops ‘anti-Muslim’ from 2002 Gujarat riots

Students of Class 12 shall be reading “Gujarat riots” instead of “Anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat”  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, reported Hindustan Times.

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, the report said.

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, the report added.

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.

NCERT officials maintained that it is a minor change, the reprot said.

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.”

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