"BJP Govt Was A Silent Spectator During Gujarat Riots," Says Assam Text Book; FIR Against Authors & The Publisher
An FIR has been registered against the three authors and the publisher of an Assamese study guide book for a line written in the textbook. The book, in one of its chapter on 2002 Gujarat Riots says that the “Narendra Modi-led Bhartiya Janta party government was a silent spectator during the Gujarat Riots”. The line infuriated the complainants, Saumitra Goswami and Manab Jyoti Bora, who in their FIR have stated that the authors were “misguiding our upcoming students on our well-known Prime Minister”.
According to The Indian Express, the 390-pages guidebook has been in circulation since 2011. The book published by the Guwahati-based Assam Book Depot- is along the lines prescribed by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and the Assam Higher Secondary Educational Council (AHSEC).
The three authors Durgakanta Sarma, Rafiq Zaman and Manash Pratim, are well known in Assam. Durgakanta Sarma is a retired head of the Department of Political Science from Arya Vidyapeeth College in Guwahati and has died a few years back. Rafiq Zaman is also a retired HoD of Political Science from Goalpara College in Goalpara. While Manash Pratim Baruah is currently the HoD of Political Science at DK College in Mirza. The 90-year-old Assamese Book Depot is a renowned publishing house in the state.
“Act to draw a draw an ill image of our beloved PM”
The FIR was filed based on the line written in the last chapter, of the guidebook, called ‘Recent Issues and Challenges’ in which it is it talks about the 2002 Gujarat Ritos. The chapter was first published in 2006, and the text in it reads as,
In this incident [burning of coach] 57 persons died including women and children. On the suspicion that Muslims were behind the incident, next day Muslims were mercilessly attacked in different parts of Gujarat. This violence continued for over a month and over a thousand people were killed. Most of those killed were Muslims. Significantly, at the time of the violence, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government was a silent spectator. Moreover, there were allegations that the state administration helped the Hindus.
On September 15, a complaint was sent via a letter to the Golaghat Police Station. In which both the complainants, Goswami and Bora has claimed that the line in the book will result in PM’s bad image. They said, “It’s well-known to you that Special Investigation Team (SIT) under the supervision of Supreme Court gave a clean sheet to PM Narendra Modi (sic) dated September 12, 2011, on this issue.”
They further added that the book is trying to “misguide the young student” about PM Modi and is also “dishonouring the SIT report made under the supervision of Supreme Court”.
While talking to The Indian Express, the complaint said, that the book should either be banned or should be taken off the market, as it does not mention that the PM Modi was given “clean chit” by the SIT.
Case register against the three
A day after the letter was sent, FIR was registered. The Golaghat Superintendent of Police said that the case would soon be transferred to Guwahati as the publisher(one of the accused) is based there.
A case has been registered under section 53 (a), (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention, as reported by The Wire.
“We have no intention at all to hurt anyone’s sentiments”
While talking to the India Today, one of the accused Manash Protim Baruah said that the book is prescribed on the line of NCERT and was first published in 2006. He further states that he has taken the content from the public domain and have not written anything on their own. He says, there are several other books, including ones prescribed by the NCERT, that have the same content regarding the Gujarat riots.
In March 2018, the reference book was published as it’s 12th edition, after being revised and updated. The copyright rests with the authors, said Kaustav Guha, a partner at the Assam Book Depot.