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NCERT Drops ‘Anti-Muslim’ from Chapter on Gujarat Riots in Class 12 Textbook

Image for representation.   (Getty Images)

Image for representation. (Getty Images)

The National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has tweaked the sub-head of a chapter, “Politics in India since Independence” (page 187). Meanwhile, in the same paragraph, the 1984 riots are described as ‘anti-Sikh’.

New Delhi: The 2002 Gujarat riots, which were called “anti-Muslim riots” in the previous edition of the NCERT book for class XII, will now be read as just “Gujarat riots”. The revised version of the textbook titled ‘Recent Developments in Indian Politics’ will hit the book shelves next week.

The National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has tweaked the sub-head of a chapter, “Politics in India since Independence” (page 187). Meanwhile, in the same paragraph, the 1984 riots are described as ‘anti-Sikh’, media reports said.

The word “Muslim” has been omitted from the first sentence of the passage in the chapter, Hindustan Times reported.

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.

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.

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. The council officials maintained that it is a “minor change”.

According to Indian Express, the changes are part of the textbook review — the first since 2007 — undertaken last year by the NCERT, an autonomous organisation that advises the HRD Ministry on school education. These changes were first suggested by the Central Board of Secondary Education in June last year, when R K Chaturvedi was its chairman.

When Indian Express contacted NCERT director Hrishikesh Senapaty, he did not respond to their calls or SMS.

According to the government’s reply tabled in the Parliament, 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed, 223 were reported missing and 2,500 injured in the Gujarat riots in 2002.

The changes have come weeks after a material on Rajput king Maharana Pratap was introduced and more information on Maratha ruler Chhatrapati Shivaji was added in NCERT's class VII history textbook.

According to a report in Indian Express, the previous version of the textbook was criticised by Shiv Sena and Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS), which is based in Maharashtra, for “glorifying Mughal emperors” and “ignoring Hindu kings”.

The book also included Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao and Digital India campaigns as well as demonetisation — all associated with the BJP-led NDA government.

Even before this addition, the Maharashtra education board had reduced the Mughal emperor’s reign to just three lines in school textbooks last year.

The revised Maharashtra board textbook has Shivaji as the focal point of medieval Indian history. His role, and those of his family and the Maratha generals have been expanded. The revised book has elaborated chapters on the 27-year-old struggle of the Marathas against Aurangzeb.