A complaint was registered against three authors and publisher of an Assamese reference book for a line in a chapter on the 2002 Godhra riots of Gujarat that said that the Narendra Modi-led BJP government was a 'silent spectator'. The FIR accuses them of "misguiding upcoming students on our well-known prime minister", reported The Indian Express.
The complaint, which was filed via a letter, was sent to the Golaghat Police Station in-charge on 15 September. The case will be soon shifted to the Guwahati Police Station since the publisher of the book – Assam Book Depot – is based in the city.
According to The Indian Express, Page 376 of the last chapter of the Class 12 book titled 'Recent Issues and Challenges' translates into:
“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.”
First published in 2006, the guide book has been authored in line with the syllabus prescribed by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), followed by the Assam Higher Secondary Educational Council (AHSEC) since 2011, reported The Indian Express.
The three authors named in the case are Durgakanta Sharma (former head of department of Political Science of Arya Vidyapeeth College), Rafiq Jaman (former head of the department of Political Science of Goalpara College) and Manash Protim Baruah (current head of the department of South Kamrup College). Sharma died a few years ago.
‘PM Modi Was Given Clean Chit for Godhra in 2011’
The complaint, as reported by The Indian Express, states, “It’s well-known to you that Special Investigation Team (SIT) under the supervision of Supreme Court gave cleansheet on PM Narendra Modi (sic) dated 12 September 2011, on this issue.”
The complainants, Saumitra Goswami, a Golaghat-based businessman and Manab Jyoti Bora have demanded that the book should either be banned or taken off the market.
They further added that the book “is misguiding our upcoming students on our well-known Prime Minister. Author along with publication (are) intentionally giving wrong communal information and dishonouring the SIT report made under the supervision of Supreme Court… By this, the authors (are) trying to draw an ill image of our beloved PM of the largest democracy by putting communal colour.”
‘Nothing Objectionable in the Book Against PM Modi’
Denying the allegations raised against them, the authors said there is nothing objectionable in the book against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
According to India Today, author Manash Protim Baruah said, “The book is written based on an NCERT textbook and was first published seven years ago. We have not written anything, which is not in the public domain. There are several other books, including ones prescribed by the NCERT, that have the same content regarding the Gujarat riots.”
He further added, "We fail to understand why they have singled us out."
Baruah also claimed that he and his co-authors have not been contacted by the police yet and they received knowledge about the FIR only through media reports.
Kaustav Guha, a partner of the Assam Book Depot said the 12the edition of the guide book, published in March 2018 had been revised and updated since its first release in 2018, reported The Indian Express.
“We have no intention at all to hurt anyone’s sentiments. We are open to suggestions to make any changes so as to not hurt anyone,” reported The Indian Express, quoting Guha.
The FIR cites IPC Sections 153A (relating to promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and race), 505 (related to publication which can incite any community) and 34 (relating to a criminal act done by several persons with a common intention) against the publisher and the authors.
(With inputs from The Indian Express and India Today.)