Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Saturday said that the historical practice of Jauhar, or self-immolation by women was a matter of pride. His comments come in the wake of a controversy over modifications in school textbooks in Rajasthan, PTI reported.
“Jauhar has been all about sacrifice and pride in our history,” he said, while criticising the Bharatiya Janata Party for distorting historical facts. Gehlot also called Maharana Pratap an epitome of sacrifice and courage.
He accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Raje of distorting history. “When you run the government and distort or tamper with historical facts, you would never be able to make history or would be remembered,” he said. He further added that the BJP attempts to change historical facts since they didn’t make any sacrifice in the Indian freedom struggle.
The controversy over textbooks began on May 14 when Rajasthan Education Minister Govind Singh Dotasra said that the previous Vasundhara Raje-led government had glorified Hindutva ideologue “Veer” Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in school textbooks. Dotasra claimed that a textbook review committee recommended on the basis of “strong evidences and facts” that Savarkar had applied to the British for clemency.
Therefore, the committee suggested changes in the textbooks in the new academic session. The prefix “Veer” has also been removed from Savarkar’s name in Class 10 social science books. The book says that the Hindutva ideologue was a “conspirator who plotted the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi”, but the chapter highlights that Savarkar was cleared of the charges.
The current government in Rajasthan has also removed content that had been introduced by the previous government. An image in class 8 English books that suggest self-immolation has been replaced with a picture of a hill fort, PTI reported.
Dotasra said that it was unclear whether the visual suggested Jauhar, the practice of self-immolation by women facing captivity by invaders, or Sati, the practice of self-immolation by women after the death of their husbands.
The BJP has protested against some of the changes. Former Education Minister Vasudev Devnani called the decision anti-Hindutva. “After Maharana Pratap, the Congress government has insulted great freedom fighter Veer Savarkar with its anti-Hindutva mentality,” he tweeted on Sunday. “A party idolising only one family has always shown such conduct about other great personalities.”