Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien said that he never asked the government to ban a history text book that referred to freedom fighter Bhagat Singh as a “terrorist”, and only wanted it to remove all such references.
As the House took up the Zero Hour, K.C. Tyagi of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) raised a ‘point of order’, saying the government has banned the history text book “India’s Struggle for Independence” when it was asked only to remove the mention of “terrorist” in reference to Bhagat Singh in the book.
On this, Kurien said: “The book cannot be banned, only the term should be deleted from the book.”
Kurien also said that same is applicable to all freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives for the country.
Responding from the government side, Union Parliamentary Affairs and Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said there were only two options — either to tear those pages from the text book or to ban it.
He wondered whether the pages referring to Bhagat Singh as a terrorist should be torn or the book be withdrawn.
He said the government “will not protect those who termed freedom fighter Bhagat Singh as a terrorist”.
During the noisy scenes in the House while the issue was being discussed, Naresh Agrawal of the Samajwadi Party said that the writers who did it should be prosecuted.
Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D. Raja protested against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member Subramanian Swamy who said Bipan Chandra, one of the authors of the history book, belonged to CPI.
Published in 1988, “India’s Struggle for Independence” was authored by Bipan Chandra, Mridula Mukherjee, Aditya Mukherjee, K.N. Panikkar and Sucheta Mahajan.
The book has been part of the reading list in universities across India for over 25 years, and is widely acknowledged as one of the finest textbooks on the history of the Indian national movement.