Bhubaneswar: The Congress on Friday came down heavily on the Odisha government for providing wrong information on the death of Mahatma Gandhi in its two-page booklet.
The School and Mass Education Department had published a two-page booklet ‘Aama Bapuji: Eka Jhalaka (Our Bapuji: A Glimpse) and distributed in all schools to commemorate 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The booklet says that Gandhiji died in New Delhi at the Birla House on January 30, 1948 due to an ‘accidental sequence of events’.
Raising the issue during zero hour in the State Assembly, leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) Narasingha Mishra said that facts have been distorted in the booklet and the inaccuracies are too glaring.
“The BJD and the BJP are trying to mislead people and the students on Gandhiji’s death. There is no mention of Nathuram Godse, who was hanged for this heinous crime, in the booklet. By providing such misinformation, the Odisha government seems to have given a clean chit to Nathuram in the Mahatma’s death. If this is so, then when is the state government planning to build Nathuram’s statue? Narasingha asked.
He also said that if the Chief Minister was aware of the information provided in the booklet, he should immediately resign and if this had happened without his knowledge, then he should tender an unconditional apology to the House.
Taking note of the statement of the CLP leader, Speaker Surya Narayan Patro in his ruling directed the School and Mass Education Minister Samir Dash to furnish a reply in the House on Saturday.
Briefing the media later in the day, Dash said he had ordered a probe into the incident. “Whoever has done it would be taken to task. Instead of saying that it was an accident, it should have been clearly mentioned the way he was killed. It should been elaborated clearly how he was killed. We will withdraw the booklets,” he said.
On Thursday, Dash had ruled out any deliberate attempt to distort history. He had, however, said that mentioning an “accidental sequence of event” was only meant to avoid hurting the “sentiments of sensitive children” (who might not like to hear about murder or killings). “Even a firing incident is an accident,” he had claimed while speaking to The Wire, before adding, “But it would have been better if the facts had been further elaborated.”
Earlier, intellectuals had condemned the state government for overlooking this fact and have demanded that the state School and Mass Education Minister should immediately withdraw the booklet, which they say is a misrepresentation of facts and a deliberate attempt to mislead the younger generation.
Last month a similar controversy had erupted in Gujarat when a school in its internal assessment examination for Class IX had asked ‘how did Mahatma Gandhi commit suicide?’