Controversy erupts over DU textbook calling Bhagat Singh ‘terrorist’
New Delhi: A controversy has erupted over a Delhi University history textbook prescribed terming Indian freedom fighters Bhagat Singh and Chandra Shekhar Azad as ‘revolutionary terrorists’.
The book which has become the bone of contention is ‘India's Struggle for Independence’. It also calls the Chittagong movement a 'terrorist act', while terms British police officer John P Saunders killing an ‘act of terrorism’.
Many authors, historians and political leaders have now asked the HRD Ministry to look into the matter and demanded appropriate changes in the textbook.
Terming the ‘error’ as an ‘academic murder’, Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani made it clear that no amount of intellectual cover could be used to demean those who have lost their lives.
"If I am to be called intolerant to ensure that Bhagat Singh is not called a terrorist, then that is a tag I will proudly wear," she said.
She also gave an assurance that corrections will be made in the chapter and that the disapproval would be expressed to the university.
BJP MP Anurag Thakur too raised the issue in the Lok Sabha demanding discussion on distortion of history. He said that 2007 UPSC question was on contributions of ‘revolutionary terrorists’ in freedom struggle.
Meanwhile, Bhagat Singh’s kin Abhey Singh Sandhu has written a letter to Smriti Irani seeking her intervention into the issue. He described the controversy over the legendary freedom fighter as ‘extremely unfortunate’.
“This is a very sad precedent that even after 68 years of Independence such words are used for the revolutionaries, who gave their lives for the freedom of the nation. The Britishers, who hanged Bhagat Singh, described him as `true revolutionary` in their judgement, even they didn’t use words like terror or terrorism. Using such words for revolutionaries in an attempt to stir controversy is very unfortunate,” he said.
Veteran historian Irfan Habib, however, said that ‘this controversy is not new for him’. “This issue is in public domain for a long time. When I was writing book on Bhagat Singh, I deliberately used ‘revolutionary terrorist’ for him.”