Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - YOURSPACE - Musab Qazi

MUM­BAI: The Ma­ha­rash­tra govern­ment has put on hold the cir­cu­la­tion of a book meant for sup­ple­men­tary read­ing in its schools af­ter op­po­si­tion par­ties ob­jected to the book’s de­scrip­tion of Samb­haji, the son of war­rior king Shivaji, as an al­co­holic.

The book ‘Sa­marth Shri Ram­das Swami’, which is about the 17th-cen­tury poet-saint Ram­das, has a sen­tence that reads “Samb­haji Raja was found to be ine­bri­ated and in the grip of vice.” It was pro­vided to govern­ment-run schools un­der the state’s Ekb­hashik Pu­rak Wachan Pus­tak Yo­jna, a part of the Sarva Shik­sha Ab­hiyan.

Ashok Cha­van, Ma­ha­rash­tra Congress pres­i­dent, and Dhanan­jay Munde, a Na­tional Congress Party (NCP) leader and leader of op­po­si­tion in the leg­isla­tive coun­cil, de­manded with­drawal of the book and an apol­ogy from the Ma­ha­rash­tra ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter Vinod Tawde.

On Satur­day, Munde de­manded ac­tion against the au­thor and Nag­pur-based pub­lisher of the book. He also asked Tawde to re­sign from his post.

“Such in­ci­dents are oc­cur­ring reg­u­larly as the state govern­ment as­cribes to the thoughts of Manusm­riti. How does a text which is defam­a­tory to Ch­ha­tra­p­ati Samb­haji Ma­haraj crop [in the books pro­vided by the govern­ment] in the first place? And how does the govern­ment tol­er­ate it?” Munde asked.

Samb­haji Bri­gade, a Maratha or­gan­i­sa­tion, had sub­mit­ted a writ­ten com­plaint to the state ed­u­ca­tion com­mis­sioner on Thurs­day, claim­ing that the book makes un­sub­stan­ti­ated and deroga­tory claims about Samb­haji.

In a let­ter to is­sued ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cers on Fri­day, the Ma­ha­rash­tra State Coun­cil of Ed­u­ca­tion Re­search and Train­ing said books are not to be is­sued to stu­dents un­til the state re­solves this is­sue af­ter con­sult­ing a com­mit­tee of ex­perts in his­tory. Copies of the books present in schools are to be kept in the cus­tody of head­mas­ters, read the let­ter.

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