The offending word for Christians is found in a textbook for the ninth grade published by the Gujarat State School Textbook Board. Christians have called for its removal before schools re-open.
Ahmedabad (AsiaNews) – Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is a “demon,” this according to grade 9 textbooks in Gujarat. This has sparked protests among local Christians who demand the immediate removal of the offensive reference before school reopens.
Subramaniam Iyer, a lawyer, spotted the mistake, if it is a mistake, and posted the image of the faulty Hindi text. Speaking to the Daily News and Analysis (DNA), an Indian broadsheet, he said that “Such errors are not acceptable and should not be permitted to remain in textbooks which are read by young minds. Either the government should rectify it or call for a reprint.”
The exact transliterated Hindi phrase is: "Issamband mein haivan Isa ka ek kathan tania smaraniya hain". Translated, it means: "In this context, an incident of the demon Jesus will always be remembered." The sentence appears on page 70, chapter 16 on “teacher-disciple relationship in Indian Culture".
The textbook, prepared by the Gujarat Council of Educational Research and Training (GCERT), was published by the Gujarat State School Textbook Board (GSTTB).
Informed of the error, Gujarat’s Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama said he was already aware of it, and that it would be corrected.
According to Iyer, the error "is a punishable offence under sections 295 (A) of IPC (Indian Penal Code)” with respect to “deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage the religious sentiments of any class by insulting its religion”.
“The fact that Jesus is denigrated in school books says a lot about those in charge of shaping the minds, character and future of children,” said Fr Cedric Prakash, a well-known human rights activist and a member of the Jesuit Refugee Service.
“This also reflects the mind-set of those who govern us, those in power who with their acolytes appear bent on destroying what is deemed sacrosanct in the Constitution of India, that justice, freedom, equality, and fraternity belong to every citizen of India; that India is a secular, socialist and sovereign country."
What alarms the clergyman is the fact that in India "there are fewer scruples in denigrating and even exterminating minorities, Dalits and Tribals." According to Fr Prakash, the Gujarat error is part of a "brutal plan to promote fascist ideologies."
For this reason, he calls for "immediate removal from the textbooks” of the offending word, “that the perpetrators be prosecuted according to the law and that the government apologise to the Christian community".