Not anti Muslim riots but Gujarat riots – Face saver

It will be known as Gujarat riots and not anti-Muslim riots in the NCERT textbooks. The decision to term the 2002 incident as Gujarat riots was taken at a meeting of the course review committee that includes representatives of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the National Council of Educational Research And Training (NCERT), HT reported while quoting sources. The text book for the Class 12 which was published when the UPA was ruling referred to the incident as the anti-Muslim riots. Now it will be called as the Gujarat riots only. Around 800 Muslims and 250 Hindus were killed in the riots that took place between February and March 2002. The violence was a result of the train burning incident at Godhra in which 57 Hindu pilgrims were killed.

The new text books are expected to be printed by the end of 2017. The NCERT has however termed the move as routine and aimed at keeping the text books updated. A chapter titled “Politics in India since Independence” (page 187) in the Class XII political science textbook has a passage under the heading “Anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat”. It reads- “In February-March 2002, large-scale violence against Muslims took place in Gujarat …. A bogey of a train that was returning from Ayodhya and was full of karsevaks was set on fire… Suspecting the hands of Muslims in setting fire to the bogey, large-scale violence against Muslims began in many parts of Gujarat…” the passage reads.

Official estimates say about 800 Muslims and 250 Hindus were killed in the carnage that followed the death of 57 karsevaks returning from Ayodhya by train near Godhra. The minority community bore the brunt of the atrocities that followed — lynching, rape, arson and a host of other cruelties — for weeks on end.The recommendation to change the description of the riots was taken in a review meeting with representatives of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). The last review of textbooks took place a decade ago, in 2007, and the book under scrutiny was published then, under the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime.

NCERT director Hrushikesh Senapaty said the intention was to update and revise existing information in the textbooks, not to rewrite them. However, states like Haryana, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan have been accused of putting in material in their textbooks that are outright objectionable or perceived as an attempt to saffronise history.

By Abdul hafiz lakhani Ahmedabad