The Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation (TNTESC) on Wednesday informed the Madras High Court that it has decided to delete an “objectionable” sentence from the Class X social science textbook meant for State board schools. The sentence read: Hindu Mahasabha as well as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) had taken a pronounced anti Muslim stance during the pre Independence era.
Justice P.D. Audikesavalu was told that the TNTESC has also written to the Director of School Education as well as the Director of Matriculation Schools to ensure that the sentence was effaced, by pasting a sticker on top of it, from the textbooks that had already been distributed to the students. The Director of School Education, in turn, communicated the instruction to all Chief Educational Officers (CEOs) in the State.
The CEOs have been asked to share the information with headmasters of all schools under their control and make sure that stickers were pasted in all English as well as Tamil textbooks already distributed to the students. The sentence would not find place at all in textbooks to be printed in the future, the TNTESC said and produced a copy of the communication sent by it to the directors.
The submission was made in response to a writ petition filed by P. Chandrasekaran, secretary of Chennai chapter of RSS, through his counsel S. Ravi. Asserting that RSS had only opposed the partition of the country on religious lines, the petitioner said this had been “falsely misinterpreted” to mean as if it had taken an anti-Muslim stance. “If such wrong messages are included in a textbook, it will lower the image of the organisation… and it is highly objectionable,” he added.
When the judge wanted to know whether the TNTESC had filed its response in the form of an affidavit as ordered by him during the last hearing of the case, a government counsel produced a draft affidavit and sought time to file a fair copy.
After finding that the draft read as if the court had ordered for pasting stickers on top of the contentious sentence in the textbooks, the judge told the law officer: “The court never said, you must delete the sentence. In fact, the court did not issue any direction. It’s you who said the sentence will be deleted. How can you now say the court had issued a direction? Change this and file a proper affidavit by February 20.”
In the meantime, a counsel representing advocate V. Elangovan told the judge that S. Doraisamy, vice-president of Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam (TPDK), had filed an impleading petition objecting to the plea for deleting the sentence from the textbook and hence that petition may also be taken up for hearing along with the main case.
Filing an affidavit in support of his impleading petition, Mr. Doraisamy said that deleting the sentence from the textbook would amount to not allowing the schoolchildren to know a historical fact. “I state that the sentence in the above textbook is not false. It is a true historical fact. The younger generation should know the past history of the land. It should not be screened at the request of the writ petitioner,” he said.
Further, fearing that the State government might concede to the plea for deleting the sentence due to closeness between the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the TPDK leader said, “Hence, I am a just and necessary party to the above writ petition and I may be impleaded as party respondent.”