CHANDIGARH: Facing SAD’s demand for an apology for “hurting” Sikhs’ religious sentiments through the new class 12 history textbooks with derogatory references to the Sikh gurus, the Punjab government has withdrew the new books.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh directed the Punjab School Education Board to continue with the old, existing history textbooks for the academic year 2017-18 for Classes XI and XII, pending completion of their reviews by an expert group, said official spokesperson.
The directive has been issued due to the need for clarity on the syllabus for students as they were almost in the middle of their academic year, he added.
He said the government was fully committed to ensure that the students receive proper instructions in history.
The history taught to them should be factually correct and backed by evidence, without any dilution in the coverage of the Punjab and Sikh history, said the spokesperson, quoting chief minister’s order.
Shiromani Akali Dal earlier had asked the government to seek immediate apology from Sikh ‘Panth (community) for hurting their religious sentiments by including “derogatory” references to the Sikh gurus in some chapters of the PSEB history textbooks for class 11 and 12.
The SAD had also threatened with a “massive struggle” to force the government to apologise, if it failed to do so.
The SAD had taken its decision in an emergency meeting of its core committee, held to consider the “sacrilegious distortions in the history of the Sikh gurus and deliberate insults cast on their heroic acts”.
SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal told reporters Monday evening that the party leaders would perform ‘ardas’ (prayer) at Akal Takht Sahib on November 1 before launching the “struggle”.
He said the details of the “struggle” would be announced in Amritsar after the ‘ardas’.
“Amarinder Singh-led government has committed a sin. The new history book contains distorted facts about Sikh gurus and it was presented in a negative way. Insulting words have been used against our Sikh gurus which nobody will tolerate,” Badal said.
“The whole Sikh panth is angry with the contents of the new book. We want an unconditional apology from the government from Sikh community. An FIR should be registered against those who wrote the book. The chapters containing the distorted facts should be withdrawn forthwith,” he said.
Badal had warned that if the Congress government failed to undo the damages immediately, it should be prepared to face the wrath of the Khalsa Panth.
“We will launch the struggle against the government,” he said.
Meanwhile, the official spokesperson said an expert group of eminent historians was constituted by the state government on May 11 in response to the concerns in certain quarters regarding the alleged errors and discrepancies in the history syllabi for classes 11 and 12.
The group is chaired by Prof Kirpal Singh and comprises J S Grewal, Indu Banga, Pirthipal Singh Kapur along with Balwant Singh Dhillon and Inderjeet Singh Gogoani, both SGPC representatives.
The spokesperson said the chief minister had asked the education minister to ensure a comprehensive review by the expert group, taking into consideration all the complaints and suggestions received earlier.
The chief minister had also directed the education minister to ensure that individual chapters of history books are not released by PSEB, said the spokesperson, adding that he wanted the textbooks to be published only after proper vetting and approval by the expert group.
SAD chief Badal had earlier said, “It is hard to believe that scurrilous and sacrilegious distortions of history had been included after the Punjab government had earlier been forced to remove some other similar sacrilegious portions from the same books.”
“This shows that this is not an inadvertent act but that the Congress government is working on a deep-rooted conspiracy to destroy and disfigure the history of the great guru sahibaan. The Khalsa Panth, the entire Punjab and the SAD would never tolerate it,” he had warned.
Badal pointed out that the new history books of the Punjab government claimed that the fifth Sikh guru, Guru Arjan Dev, was not martyred by the Mughals but was merely fined.
The book also says the guru patronized “criminal elements”.
About the sixth guru, Guru Hargobind Rai, the book says the Mughals differences with him were not because of any ideological or religious reasons but just because the guru was a hunter and kept hunting dogs, Badal said.
The book also claimed that the 10th guru, Guru Gobind Singh “deserted the battle of Chamkaur Sahib without informing anyone.”
These are shocking claims about the history of the great Sikh gurus by the Punjab government, Badal said.