Board claims “printing mistake”

Jesus Christ compared to devil in Gujarat text book, Board claims "printing mistake"

Ahmedabad: A blunder in a Class IX Hindi language textbook published by the Gujarat board, that compares Jesus Christ to “haivaan” (devil) has caused massive outrage amongst the Christian community.

Left embarrassed, officials of the Gujarat State School Textbook Board (GSSTB), the publisher of the textbook, have rectified the blunder in the online version of the book available on their website and removed the controversial word. Assuring an internal inquiry, GSSTB Executive President Nitin Pethani said it was a “printing mistake”, reports PTI.

The controversial reference appears on page 16, which is in the chapter titled “Teacher-student relationship in Indian culture“.

“The textbook has depicted our God in a bad light. We condemn the word used for Jesus Christ. It has hurt our religious sentiments. We want the government to withdraw the book immediately,” an agitator said.

The GSSTB has stated that though they have removed the error from the online edition, it’ll be impossible to do so from the print editions as the textbooks have already been distributed.

“This was nothing but a printing mistake. Instead of word ‘Bhagwan’, the word ‘haivaan’ got printed. We have already made the correction in the online version. Since books have already been distributed among students, it is not possible to withdraw them now,” Pethani said.

When asked how they will ensure that right knowledge was imparted to students, he said, “To make sure that the corrected version is taught to students, we will issue a written advisory to all the teachers, asking them to take into account this correction while teaching this subject”.

 The man who is stated to have first noticed the error, Advocate Subramaniam Iyer, said that it may be unintentional as claimed by state officials but it was “unacceptable” and attracts legal provisions relating to deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings. “This is a case that attracts section 295(a) of the IPC…the error may be unintentional but it can create a rift between communities and cause a law and order problem,” he said.

The issue that has been raised by academicians and several Christian organisations in the state for over a month, forcing state education minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, to finally instruct the officials to rectify the ‘misprint’ at the earliest. Though no instructions or steps to punish the erring officials involved with the printing or checking the textbooks have been issued as yet.

The Indian Christian Voice, an organisation representing the larger interests of the Christian community in India, demanded that the text book be withdrawn. It said in a statement that the reference has deeply hurt the religious sentiments of both Christians and Muslims.

ICV President Abraham Mathai said.”The Christian community, known worldwide as peace-loving, is deeply offended by the chapter in the textbook prepared by Gujarat State School Textbook Board. We demand criminal action against the perpetrators and an unconditional apology from the state government.”

(With inputs from PTI)