Bengal school textbook labels Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki as terrorists
A history chapter titled “revolutionary terrorism” describes the activities of freedom fighters like Shahid Khudiram Bose, Jatindranath Mukherjee and Prafulla Chaki as “extremism and terrorism”.
The Mamata Banerjee-led government in West Bengal has found itself in the midst of yet another raging controversy for labelling revolutionary freedom fighters as “terrorists” in the Class 8 history textbooks.
A history chapter titled “revolutionary terrorism” describes the activities of freedom fighters like Shahid Khudiram Bose, Jatindranath Mukherjee and Prafulla Chaki as “extremism and terrorism”. The issue kicked off a blazing debate with prominent historians in the state dubbing the move by the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education a gross distortion to India’s freedom struggle.
They said the flawed interpretation only reaffirmed the British stance against freedom fighters. “Those who are using such terminology for great freedom fighters like Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki are anti-nationals. Would you call Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose a terrorist too? These people are not only distorting facts, but damaging the rich tradition of our freedom movement,” said Atish Dasgupta, a well-known historian.
However, veteran historians on the state government-appointed secondary education board defended the move, saying the intention behind the use of such word was purely factual to give an impression of the reality of that time. Experts said the committee should have been more careful while choosing the right terminology as the matter is quite sensitive in terms of its historical significance. The state government said it was open to any academic discussion on the matter on a condition that it would not be politicised. After only 10 months in office, the Trinamool Congress-led government had decided to abolish chapters on German philosopher Karl Marx from the higher secondary history book.
The state higher secondary syllabus committee had decided to introduce new topics in a view of striking a balanced approach. According to Avik Majumdar, the head of the state school education syllabus committee, the old history syllabus for the higher secondary students was quite Left-oriented. Majumder had reportedly said the history syllabus in Bengal gave importance to a particular ideology. “History is not only about what happened in the past. It is also about how we look at it. If there was any excess of anything, including Marx, it has to be done away with,” Majumder had told reporters.
The committee also had felt that instead of Marx, Engels and Bolshevik Revolution, chapters on M.K Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and women liberation movement should find place in the state’s new higher secondary history textbooks.