A controversy has erupted in West Bengal after an image of a Class 10 sample question paper has gone viral, asking the students to mark “Azad Kashmir” on a map. Meanwhile, the opposition BJP has claimed it to be a “jihadi conspiracy”.
The Mamata Banerjee-led TMC Government has termed it a mistake that the party doesn’t support.
The sample test paper was part of exercise book for a Bengali-medium school identified as Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda Vidyamandir in Malda.
Ramanuj Ganguly, President of the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, said that the “goof up” has taken place in the sample test papers published by an autonomous body, and action is being taken against those responsible.
Ramanuj Ganguly said, “We published a compilation of question papers provided by various schools. In one such question paper, this mistake was identified. A probe is being conducted, and stern action will be initiated against editorial team members who were entrusted with the task of proof-reading the papers. Those involved in the mistake will not be spared.”
In the sample question paper of a Bengali-medium school for Madhyamik aspirants, the question paper setter asked the students to identify several places on the map. He also asked the students to mark Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, POK (referred to as ‘Azad Kashmir’ in Pakistan).
The headmaster of the Ramakrishna Mission, Vivekananda Vidyamandir, Swami Tapahara Nanda, has claimed that they “tried to put forth an aspect of history”. “There is no negative thought behind it. Only a historical fact has been stated. We follow the ideals of Swami Vivekananda and try to instil nationalism and patriotism among students,” he said.
Subhas Sarkar, Union minister of State for education, has called for a state-level inquiry into the matter. “I urge the State Education Minister to conduct an inquiry. If the allegations are genuine, appropriate action should be taken against the publisher and the person who has set the paper. The test paper should be immediately withdrawn and the question deleted,” Subhas Sarkar said.
Subhas Sarkar further said that the incident, if found to be true, can be attributed to the “appeasement politics of the TMC-Government, which has emboldened some people to insert a question with anti-national overtones in the test paper”.
It shouldn't happen.The paper-setter is anti-national&inspiring terrorism. State's Edu Min should write to him&this test paper cell should be shut immediately. We'll examine this&take a decision: Dr Subhas Sarkar, MoS Education on 'Azad Kashmir' question in WB school paper(17.01) pic.twitter.com/n0fCYR5RYQ
— ANI (@ANI) January 18, 2023
BJP national vice-president Dilip Ghosh said that the Mamata Government is not just supporting the jihadi elements but also trying to influence the minds of the school students.
1.1 The #MamataGovt is a supporter of the separatist forces
Check the Marked Section of History Question Paper on page 132 in Madhyamik Test Paper 2023. Students have been asked to identify the part of Pakistan occupied Kashmir as Azad Kashmir. pic.twitter.com/1c2npeR0Um
— Dilip Ghosh (@DilipGhoshBJP) January 17, 2023
“A high-level probe must be ordered. This incident proves that the state government promotes jihadi thoughts to appease its vote bank,” senior BJP leader Rahul Sinha said.
Meanwhile, the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE) has issued an apology on the matter. The board has also issued an official statement on the website regarding the question.
As per a notice dated January 17, 2023, the WBBSE has stated that any questions related to the option- ‘Azad Kashmir’ have been dropped from the book of Model Paper for 10th class.
The official statement issued by the WBBSE reads, “There has been an inadvertent error regarding the History Test Paper of Page 132. The first option for map-pointing should be read as ‘Kashmir’ instead of ‘Azad Kashmir’. Further, any/all other questions related to the option of ‘Azad Kashmir” are hereby being dropped from consideration from Test Papers Madhyamik (Secondary), 2022-23.”