The Punjab government said on Thursday that the state education board had moved the chapters on Sikh gurus from the history textbook of Class 12 to that of Class 11, and not removed them as the Opposition had claimed. The government also announced a ban on Class 11 and Class 12 textbooks by private publishers, PTI reported.
“Opposition parties are levelling wrong allegations,” Education Minister OP Soni said. “They just want to gain political advantage out of this issue. There is no tinkering with the chapters on the Sikh history. The history book of Class 11 will include all the chapters.”
He said the Punjab School Education Board was publishing the books for the first time and they will be available at very cheap prices. Finance Minister Manpreet Badal alleged that the controversy was created by private publishers fearing loss of business.
“Punjab School Education Board is an autonomous body and syllabus revision is an academic exercise,” Badal said, according to the Hindustan Times. “Its academic autonomy should be respected. Political concerns should not affect the debate.”
When asked about allegations that inappropriate words were used in the Class 12 history book, the ministers apologised and said the government would rectify the errors.
“If a wrong word has been used in the book, then it is a big mistake,” Cabinet minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said. “We seek an apology for it and we will rectify the same.”
Badal described as “absurd” the Aam Aadmi Party’s accusation that the government was acting “at the behest” of the Bharatiya Janata Party to distort history.
The Shiromani Akali Dal demanded that the book be discontinued as it has factually incorrect information. “We want to know who is responsible for it and demand a high level inquiry into the matter,” party leader Daljit Singh Cheema told ANI.