NCERT defends removal of Babri Masjid demolition from Class 12 textbooks

Apart from removing references to the mosque’s demolition, the revised textbook has even stopped referring to the Babri Masjid by name, calling it a “three-domed structure” instead.
Babri Masjid
Babri MasjidIANS
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The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has defended its decision to remove references to the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, LK Advani’s Rath Yatra, and the 2002 Gujarat Riots from the class 12 Political Science textbook. In a media interview on June 16, NCERT Director Dinesh Prasad Saklani stated, “The hue and cry about the changes is irrelevant.” 

He defended the changes saying, “Why should we teach about riots in school textbooks? We want to create positive citizens, not violent and depressed individuals. Should we teach our students in a manner that they become offensive, create hatred in society, or become victims of hatred? Is that the purpose of education?” 

It had come to light earlier this year that several deletions had been made in the class 12 Political Science textbook’s chapter titled ‘Recent Developments in Indian Politics.’ Apart from removing references to the mosque’s demolition, the revised textbook has even stopped referring to the Babri Masjid by name, calling it a “three-domed structure” instead. 

Earlier versions of the textbook had mentioned that the Babri Masjid was built in the 16th century by Mir Baqi. Now, calling it a “three-domed structure”, the textbook passively says, “In 1992, following the demolition of the structure, some critics contended that it presented a substantial challenge to the principles of Indian democracy.” However, that it was the kar sevaks of Hindu majoritarian outfits who demolished the mosque is not mentioned. References to the “regret” expressed by the BJP in the past have been removed as well.  

The revised textbook also says: “The centuries-old legal and political dispute over the Ram Janmabhoomi Temple in Ayodhya started influencing the politics of India, which gave birth to various political changes. The Ram Janmabhoomi Temple Movement, becoming the central issue, transformed the direction of the discourse on secularism and democracy. These changes culminated in the construction of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya following the decision of the constitutional bench of the Supreme Court (which was announced on November 9, 2019).” 

Dinesh said that deletions regarding Babri Masjid were in “keeping with the Supreme Court verdict”. 

Essentially, the book omits the anti-Muslim violence leading up to and following the demolition of the Babri Masjid, inaccurately presenting events as a series of mere legal and political fights. 

The aforementioned passage comes under a newly added subsection titled ‘From legal proceedings to amicable acceptance’. The subsection opens with the following paragraph: “It is important to note that in any society conflicts are bound to take place. However, in a multi-religious and multi-cultural democratic society, these conflicts are usually resolved following the due process of law. Through a number of democratic and legal procedures including court hearings, mediation attempts, popular movements, and finally with a 5-0 verdict of a constitutional bench of the Supreme Court on November 9, 2019, the Ayodhya issue was resolved. This verdict sought to reconcile the conflicting interests of the various stakeholders involved in the dispute.”

The chapter also presents the SC verdict without the context of public outcry from Muslims and civil-society groups. “In this way, democracy gives room for conflict resolution in a plural society like ours, upholding the inclusive spirit of the Constitution. This issue was resolved following the due process of law based on evidence such as archaeological excavations and historical records. The Supreme Court’s decision was celebrated by the society at large. It is a classic example of consensus building on a sensitive issue that shows the maturity of democratic ethos that are civilizationally ingrained in India,” the revised chapter reads. 

Interestingly, pushback about the revisions are coming from the Hindu Right as well. The Ram Temple’s chief priest Satyendra Das Maharaj told ANI, “There are some shortcomings in the NCERT textbook about the Babri Masjid issue. They do not mention how the three-domed structure was removed on December 6, 1992; they are only starting to narrate the issue from November 9, 2019, when the Ayodhya verdict was given.”

The priest further said, “If NCERT does not mention how on December 22, 1949, Ram Lalla appeared there and his puja started, how can anyone get a minimum understanding of the entire history of the Ayodhya movement? I think it is incomplete. The thought with which the NCERT books are being rewritten is wrong.”

This is not the first time revisions to textbooks by the NCERT have drawn criticism. In August last year, NCERT was widely slammed for its proposal to replace the name ‘India’ with ‘Bharat’. The move came after the Congress-led INDIA bloc was formed in July, 2023. 

Before that, in April 2023, it came to light that India’s first Education Minister Maulana Abul Kalam Azad had been removed from the class 11 textbook. In addition, a reference to Jammu and Kashmir's conditional accession had also been reportedly deleted, as were several chapters on Mughal history.

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