With the NCERT submitting in the Delhi High Court that it has decided to delete 37 objectionable passages from the textbooks, the agitation by Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti (SBAS) against distortion of history textbooks has registered a major success. Shri Dinanath Batra, convener of the SBAS, is leading this agitation. Organiser correspondent Pramod Kumar spoke to him in New Delhi to know the present status of the movement. Excerpts.
It has been almost two years since the SBAS was launched. Where does the movement stand now?
It is a matter of satisfaction that our agitation is getting success step-by-step. We organised over 100 seminars all over the country to highlight the distortion of history. There were agitations in every district and state capitals. Memorandums were submitted to the Governors.
Our first step was to strengthen the organisation. I along with my team toured the whole country and went to all the states. We have now 26 branches all over the country. The conveners of all the branches met in Bhopal for two days to decide future course of action.
The second step was bringing about awareness and awakening. For that we published 30 books and sent them to 6000 distinguished people all over the country. The efforts of publishing the books were widely appreciated by the readers. We have now a regular programme on Sadhna TV in which leading dignitaries are invited for discussion. Former CBI director Sardar Joginder Singh is the anchor of this programme. Besides this, conventions of various communities like Jats, Sikhs, Brahmins, Jains, etc. whose sentiments have been hurt in the NCERT books, were also organised. All these communities leaders registered their strong protest against the NCERT.
What is the status of the petitions field in various courts?
Four petitions were field in the courts?three petitions in High Courts and one civil petition in a lower court of Alwar. The petition in Chandigarh High Court was against the insult of Swami Dayananda, Arya Samaj and the freedom fighters who have been described as terrorists in the books. In this case, first there was no response from the NCERT. We sent a notice. Even then there was no response from them. Then the court issued notices by names to director of NCERT (Shri K.K. Sharma), Chairman of CBSE (Shri Ashok Ganguli) and Secretary of Education (Shri Banerjee) asking them why a contempt petition should not be initiated against them.
In Alwar, we have won the case. In that case the judge delivered a remarkable judgment. The judge said the NCERT should see that there is nothing damaging in the textbooks, which hurt the feelings of any community. The court also asked the NCERT to withdraw the objectionable portions and to see that these portions should not reappear in any book. The NCERT has withdrawn the portions and has also given alternative passages also. These portions were about Jains. Again a writ was filed in Allahabad where the High Court has admitted the writ and will come for hearing after the summer vacations.
In Delhi High Court, the case is at the last stage. The NCERT counsel on May 23 told the court that the NCERT had deleted 37 portions of the total 70 portions mentioned by the petitioner. Among the 29 remaining portions whom the expert committee has justified, there is the mention of cow eating, calling freedom fighters terrorists, calling Jats plunderers, insult of Guru Tegh Bahadur, Guru Govind Singh, etc. We would not stop till all these portions are deleted. We are fighting the battle both in courts and also in public.
The passages in the new books are highly damaging and demean Hinduism. They also ignore the pride of the country. They downgrade our seers, sages and also the freedom fighters. In every page of the book one finds the mention of Left, caste conflict, etc. Very derogatory words have been used for people of certain communities. The grammar has been thrown out. The rhymes that the students sing or learn are not only meaningless and directionless but also poison their thinking.
How is the public response?
Public response is quite overwhelming. People have come forward with donations also. The attendance in the meetings, seminars and conventions has been very impressive. Big institutions have also joined hands with us. An awakening is there. Not only the public but students also have come forward in good number.
How is the response of the communities whose sentiments have been hurt in the books?
They have come forward and have intervened in the High Court also. The intervention is from Jats, Jains, Arya Samaj, etc. Leaders of all such communities have joined the petition. Now it is a joint petition by these leaders and Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti.
But the government claims that the books are according to the NCFSE-2000. Comment.
This is a lie. The NCFSE-2000 is still in force and so is the syllabus framed pursuant thereto. But the books, which have been reintroduced by the UPA government in schools, are neither in accordance with the NCFSE-2000, nor in accordance with the syllabus framed pursuant to implementation of NCFSE-2000. These are old textbooks published during the seventies, which had been removed/withdrawn by the previous government pursuant to the implementation of NCFSE-2000. The government took this decision arbitrarily with malafide intention and without following the due procedure, without consulting CABE and without getting the approval of general council of NCERT. It amounts to violation of Fundamental Rights, NCFSE-2000 and the Supreme Court judgment dated September 12, 2002.