Centre: probe needed into objectionable passages

Special Correspondent

BJP members of the Rajya Sabha demand that the books be tabled

NEW DELHI: The Government on Friday said in the Rajya Sabha that a probe is "necessary" into objectionable passages in books meant for school children. "The sentiments of the House for bringing the guilty to book would be conveyed to the relevant [Human Resource Development] Minister," said Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Suresh Pachouri in response to half-an-hour of vociferous protests and demands for banning the books.

Protests began during Zero Hour as soon as Ravi Shankar Prasad (Bharatiya Janata Party) began reading passages from three textbooks, which he claimed were published by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), and meant for children studying under the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) syllabus.

The passages read out contained references to castes that have been banned as unconstitutional, mentioning freedom fighters as terrorists in one paragraph and terming a caste grouping as `robbers', claimed Mr. Prasad. Even as leaders of other parties began protesting, BJP members entered the well of the House and demanded that the books be tabled so that they become part of Rajya Sabha's records.

Despite Deputy Chairperson K. Rehman Khan pointing out that the books could not be tabled because they had to be authenticated by the member, BJP members twice reached the Presiding Officer's podium and placed the books. Each time they were removed by the marshals of the House.

Mr. Khan sought to restore order by saying the Government was prepared to reply to a "serious issue." "You are not being serious. You wanted to raise the issue in the House, which you have done. What more do you want? Perhaps your aim is to disturb the [functioning of the] House," he told BJP members who continued to stand in the well. They were countered by Rajeev Shukla, V. Narayanasamy and Raashid Alvi (all Congress).

Later Satyavrat Chaturvedi (Congress), Amar Singh (Samajwadi Party), Sitaram Yechury (Communist Party of India - Marxist), Abani Roy (Revolutionary Socialist Party) Mangani Lal Mandal (Rashtriya Janata Dal) and others felt that if the books did contain such passages, the compilers should be brought to book and the passages rectified.

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