A public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed in Gujarat High Court seeking direction to National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT) to remove the mention of Gujarat riots of 2002 and concerned portion from the textbook of Social Science and Democratic Politics, textbook of Political Science for Class IX students. The next hearing in the case will be held on Manch 18.
The NCERT has also been sought to be directed to withdraw the textbook from the next academic session and the Government of Gujarat and the Union Ministry of Human Resource and Development should be directed to convey the schools wherein the concerned textbook is being treated as textbook, not to include the described portion in curriculum as well as the test/examinations. Advocate H.L. Patel has filed the PIL on behalf of Dr Jayeshbhai Vora of Ahmedabad whose daughter studies at Maharaja Agrasen School of Ahmedabad in IX standard.
The book has an article titled ?National Human Rights Commission? at page 108 under chapter 6, which refers to Gujarat riots of 2002. The article specifically makes mention of indulgence of NHRC alleging that State Government was not serious about pursuing the cases or catching the culprits of riots where there was a massacre of nearly 2000 persons mostly Muslims. The article says: ?Many cases of Human Rights violation in diverse field, for instance, Gujarat riots, are being brought to the public notice from across India??this was in context of the riots in Gujarat in 2002. A large number of cases were filed in the Courts against those accused of rioting and massacre of nearly 2000 persons, mostly Muslims.?
The petitioner said the article shows that there was massacre of 2000 persons, which is incorrect. The Government records show the total death of persons in 2002 riots in Gujarat are entire different. The number of death includes both the communities, Hindu and Muslims, and therefore, factually incorrect data has been included in the textbook.
According to the petitioner the portion of the said chapter has been included in the textbook to teach the students what is NHRC and its role in the nation and not cases dealt with by the NHRC. ?NHRC has interfered in hundreds of cases where it found that Human Rights are jeopardised. There are instances of similar seriousness in the nation where NHRC has shown its indulgence. But the book published by the NCERT has specifically made mention of Gujarat riots, 2002, by which, the image of Gujarat is affected and always students would learn NHRC with reference to Gujarat riots and that would certainly create wrong impression in the minds of students in Gujarat and that of rest of India,? the petitioner added.
The petitioner further said without making any reference to Gujarat riots, the NCERT could have described the role of NHRC in positive manner in the said portion of the book. Many newspapers also carried reports on the said portion. ?It is very difficult to understand the intention of prejudicing Gujarat riots in the textbook and that too with certain allegations against Government as well as the people of Gujarat, which are factually incorrect, whereas riots, flared up all over India following Smt. Indira Gandhi'sdeath against Sikhs were more gruesome, cruel and shocking,? he added.
The petitioner has gone through the entire book wherein the various issues of national concern are included, however, no particular has been mentioned of any instance relating any State by the NCERT, and only the portion of NHRC includes the particular mention of Gujarat riots 2002, which shows complete bias oriented approach of the NCERT.
The petitioner further pleaded that the Government of Gujarat has appointed a Commission of Inquiry, which is inquiring into the matter of riots of 2002. It is possible that prima facie observations made by the NHRC may not be held to be true and correct by the Commission. In that case, the portion of the said book may become irrelevant and may prove to be incorrect and therefore, the mention of Gujarat riots 2002 and the presumed role of people of Gujarat and the State Government is absolutely unwarranted.
The petitioner alleged that the NCERT has knowingly caused great damage by including the mention of Gujarat riots by which incorrect and wrong impression would be created in the minds of children, who study the said book and its certain details have caused tremendous prejudice to the people of Gujarat. He said the mention is wholly with a view to disturb the harmony and peace in Gujarat for ulterior motive.
The petitioner further said the said portion referring to Gujarat Muslims, has been included with a purpose of pleasing political party in power at the Centre. ?The school children are being subjected to biased and wrong information in their school education. This book is very much in variance with the National Policy of Education. The said portion is arbitrary, malafide, unreasonable and against the basic structure of the constitution as well as a being violative of Fundamental Right of Education, Right to Development,? he added.
Commenting on the PIL, Shri Dina Nath Batra, convener of Shiksha Bachao Andolan, said despite clear instructions from the Delhi High Court in history textbooks mater and also comments by various lowers courts that nothing which hurt the sentiments of other communities, be taught in schools, the NCERT has not taken any lesson. But in this book, both Gujarat and the people of Gujarat have been insulted. This kind of politicisation of textbooks is wrong, he added. It is to be noted that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had written to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh drawing his attention to it a few months back, but the PM did not feel it necessary to even acknowledge the letter.