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Outrage over Bengal book calling revolutionaries as terrorists

Posted on Aug 07 2014 | IANS

Kolkata, Aug 7 : There is growing outrage in West Bengal over a school textbook describing as "terrorism" the revolutionary acts of freedom fighters like Khudiram Bose, Prafulla Chaki and others.

Historians, politicians and descendants of nationalist leaders are appalled over a book issued by the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education that has a chapter titled "Revolutionary Terrorism" describing the endeavours of freedom fighters as "santrasbaad" or "terrorism".

"The sanctity and richness of our freedom struggle has been eroded. When even British themselves recognised these men as real freedom fighters, how can you call the first martyrs of our freedom struggle -- Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki -- as terrorists," asked eminent historian Atish Dasgupta.

"Those who are terming these great men as terrorists are anti-nationals. They are not only distorting facts but are also doing great damage to the history and tradition of our freedom movement," he added.

Observing it was an insult to call the freedom fighters as terrorists, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose's grandnephew Chandra Kumar Bose called for removal of the people responsible for introducing the chapter.

"There is a need to find if it is mere ignorance or deliberate. If it's ignorance, then it signifies right people are not in charge, but if it's deliberate, then it is far more serious. People must come out in protest against this," he said.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Tathagata Roy said the chapter was reflective of the "chaos" that has engulfed the state after the new regime led by Mamata Banerjee has come to power.

"It seems they gave the job to some party sycophant, instead of a proper historian who has written such nonsense," said Roy.

However, historian and member of the West Bengal Government School Expert Committee, Shireen Maswood justifies the chapter, asserting the intention behind use of such a term is to capture the contemporary reality of that era.

"These men chose methods which were not ordinary, so it must be read in that context. There were violent incidents targeting a particular group and in that historical context, the word is appropriate," said Maswood.

"It is the duty of the teachers to put it in perspective. There is no intention of disrespect. The phrase must be looked at dispassionately," says Maswood, claiming there was no intention to equate the revolutionaries with modern-day terrorism.

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