Thursday, April 26, 2007

Freedom fighters branded as extremists in textbooks, upsets patriots

Thursday April 26 2007 00:00 IST
BHUBANESWAR/SAMBALPUR: First it was NCERT, now it is the Board of Secondary Education (BSE). History justifiably repeats itself. In Class X books of the State, a group of freedom fighters have been termed extremists stirring the hornet's nest.

In the Social Studies book of Class X, a chapter on Bharata Re Swadhinata Sangram, mentions Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Chandrasekhar Azad and Rajguru as extremists who took to revolutionary activities to attain political goal.

The Chief Minister's Office has asked School and Mass Education Department to submit a report on how this error crept in.

While portraying Mahatma Gandhi as a believer of non-violence and his role in freedom movement, the chapter speaks about those who took to violence as a means to achieving the goal of independence.

Nationalist leader Surya Sen has been mentioned as Suryasena in the social studies book which says he accompanied by his cohorts attacked Chittagong Port with arms and ammunition.

The book makes a mention about Binoy Ghosh, Badal and Dinesh who had created uproar in Bengal after killing English officers there but unfortunately all these including Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukdev, who were hanged, have been branded extremists.

Even Chandrasekhar Azad who was killed in Allahabad while fighting against the Britishers has been put in the same league. In the concluding chapter, they are called martyrs.

Adding to the confusion is the definition of Santrasabad described on page No 141 in second section of the book. It has been explained that terrorism is a weapon to dethrone an established political organization forcefully from power.

In one chapter, the book terms the freedom fighters as extremists and in the same breath, in another chapter, talks about Al Qaeda, naxals, attackers of Parliament and World Trade Centre as examples of extremist activities. Osama in Laden has been names as an extremist.

The historical distortions have crept in despite the Board adopting a multi layer review system.

A syllabus review committee of BSE is in place and its members write books which then go to a review committee. Then the syllabus committee presents the book to the academic wing for its views only after which it seeks a nod from secretary and president. It is after all these levels of scrutiny the book is sent for printing.

The history and civics sections of the book have been penned by a group of writers comprising Nihar Ranjan Patnaik, Himansu Sekhar Patnaik, Purnachandra Das, Dr Pratap Kumar Patnaik and Jyotsnarani Sarangi.

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