An all-India Christian organisation on Friday took umbrage to an offending chapter in a Gujarat textbook which refers to Jesus Christ as a 'demon' and demanded that the book be withdrawn.
The Indian Christian Voice, an organisation representing the larger interests of the Christian community in India, said in a statement that the reference has deeply hurt the religious sentiments of both Christians and Muslims, who also regard him as a highly revered Prophet in Islam.
"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," ICV President Abraham Mathai told IANS.
He said the book must be withdrawn and/or re-issued only after incorporating corrections, and the state government must re-assure the minority communities about its commitment to protect them.
"Such wild and reckless statements have the potential to spark off a conflagration that could seriously jeopardise communal harmony. In the larger interest of peace, this particular edition of the book must be withdrawn and banned immediately," Mathai said.
The ICV chief said the offence invites action under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code, pertaining to hurting religious sentiments of any class and must be invoked against those responsible to ensure such a 'typo' is never repeated in future.
The controversy erupted after the recent discovery of the allegedly offensive statement in the Hindi Class IX textbook published by GSSTB, using the adjective 'haivaan' (demon) while referring to Jesus Christ.
The statement reads: "Is sambandh me 'haivaan Issa' ka ek kathan sada smaraniya hai. (In this context, a statement by 'demon Jesus' is always memorable)."
The Gujarat Christian community took up the matter with the state government over a month back.
The officials called it a 'typo' as the word could mean 'demon', 'devil' or 'beast' and even promised to correct it, but later nothing happened, Mathai said.