West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee-led government hit the headlines for yet another controversy on highlighting our revolutionary freedom fighters as “terrorists” in the Class 8 history textbooks. A history chapter labelled “revolutionary terrorism” narrates the activities of freedom fighters like Shahid Khudiram Bose, Jatindranath Mukherjee and Prafulla Chaki as “extremism and terrorism” which sparked a controversy.
Atish Dasgupta, a well-known historian gave an epic reply. “Those who are using such terminology for great freedom fighters like Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki are anti-nationals. Would you call Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose a terrorist too? These people are not only distorting facts but damaging the rich tradition of our freedom movement,” said Atish Dasgupta, a well-known historian.
However, experienced historians on the state government-appointed secondary education board justified the move, emphasising the main aim behind the use of such word was entirely “factual” in a bid to give an idea of the reality of that time. However, the experts said the committee should have been cautious while going for the right terminology as the information is sensitive in case of its historical significance.
The state government stressed that it was open to any academic discussion on the matter on an agreement that it would not be politicised. It was only after 10 months in office, the Trinamool Congress-led government made a move to remove all the chapters on German philosopher Karl Marx from the higher secondary history book.
The state higher secondary syllabus committee planned to chip in with new topics with a view of a balanced and straight-forward approach. According to Avik Majumdar, the head of the state school education syllabus committee, the history syllabus in Bengal gave priority to a particular ideology. “History is not only about what happened in the past. It is also about how we look at it. If there was any excess of anything, including Marx, it has to be done away with,” Majumder had told reporters.