The Central Board of Secondary Education on Wednesday said that a question in a Class 12 sociology examination on the 2002 Gujarat riots was “inappropriate” and added that the board will take strict action against those responsible, The Times of India reported.

A multiple-choice question in the Term 1 examination for sociology held on Wednesday read: “The unprecedented scale and spread of anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat in 2002 took place under which government?”

The options for the answer were “Congress”, “BJP”, “Democratic” or “Republican”.

Large-scale communal violence had erupted in Gujarat in February and March 2002 after the burning of a passenger train coach in Godhra. Official figures say the riots resulted in the deaths of 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat at the time.

On Wednesday evening, the board said that the question was in violation of its guidelines for external subject experts for setting question papers.

The question seemed to have been drawn from a chapter titled “The Challenges of Cultural Diversity” in the National Council of Educational Research and Training’s Sociology textbook Indian Society, The Indian Express.

A portion of the chapter had stated that “no government or ruling party” can claim to be blameless in terms of responsibility for communal violence.

Responding to CBSE’s tweet, social media users pointed out that a paragraph in the textbook noted that the 2002 riots took place while the BJP was in power in Gujarat.

“In fact, the two most traumatic contemporary instances of communal violence occurred under each of the major political parties,” the chapter in the textbook stated. “The anti-Sikh riots of Delhi in 1984 took place under a Congress regime. The unprecedented scale and spread of anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat in 2002 took place under a BJP government.”

In another tweet, the board said that persons who set question papers have to ensure the questions should be academic-oriented only and should be class- and religion-neutral. The questions “should not touch upon domains that could harm sentiments of people based on social and political choices”, it said.

Two panels of subject experts take part in the CBSE’s examination process – paper setters and moderators. Questions papers are formulated by paper setters and then reviewed by moderators, after which they are submitted to the board. Once this process is completed, no official is expected to be privy to the questions, according to The Indian Express.