The J&K administration on Sunday withdrew a Class 7 textbook from schools and sought an First Information Report (FIR) against the publisher for drawing a sketch of prophet Muhammad, which is considered blasphemous by Muslims.
“Jay Cee Publications Limited, New Delhi, has published a Social Studies book for Class 7 wherein content of a sensitive nature has reportedly been published and is in circulation. The book is stocked and distributed by Paradise Book Shop, Parraypora, Srinagar. It’s requested to take stern action against the publishing house and the distributor as per law,” Additional District Magistrate, Srinagar, Dr. Syed Haneef Balkhi, said in an order.
The move to lodge an FIR came hours after the J&K Board of School Education directed all schools in the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh to not use the “contentious Class 7 ‘History and Civics’ textbook over the depiction of Muhammad”.
A notification issued by the Director, Academics, reads: “All the schools of UTs of J&K and Ladakh affiliated either with CBSE, JKBOSE or any other Board of the country are directed not to use the textbook of ‘History & Civics’, 2020, for Class 7th published by JAY CEE PUBLICATIONS Pvt Ltd., New Delhi. If the textbook is being used in any school, it must be withdrawn immediately, otherwise strict action as warranted under provisions of law shall be initiated.”
The notification said the act of publication of certain material has hurt the sentiments of the people. “The publisher is directed to withdraw this textbook immediately, in spite of the publishing house having regretted the mistake,” it said.
Officials said the publication house has tendered an apology. It reads: “Due to lack of knowledge about prohibition of picturisation in the Islam, we made an unintentional mistake in our book, which has hurt the religious sentiments of our respected brethren. We as a whole team of Jay Cee Publications Pvt. Ltd apologise and highly regret for the inconvenience. We also promise and assure to all our brothers and friends that the mistake will not be repeated in future editions.”
The controversial illustration showed a painting of archangel Gabriel and Muhammad. It drew criticism from local religious leaders and on social media. “There is absolutely no room for making any depiction of the Prophet,” Mufti Nazir Ahmad Qasmi said.