A class 8 history text book in West Bengal has described freedom fighters who sacrificed their life for India as terrorists. The textbook published by the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education has a chapter on “revolutionary terrorism” and castigates bravehearts like Khudiram Bose, Jatindranath Mukherjee and Prafulla Chaki as “extremists” and “terrorists". The book has already created a huge controversy with historians and political parties up in arms.
According to media reports, well-known historian Atish Dasgupta has raised the pertinent question of whether Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose would also be branded as a terrorist. Others believe it is all a matter of perspective along the lines of the adage 'one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist'.
Irfan Habib has been quoted as saying, "We have this habit of carrying forward the British tradition and it reflects here too," But historians believe it is very important to point out to young minds the difference between terrorists and freedom fighters and not confuse the two.
The government though, is unfazed by all the criticism and believes that the intention was to give a factual account of the reality of the time. However, some sources suggest that the government may be open to a slight change in tenor of the text, provided the matter is not politicised. But political parties have already launched into a protest.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut told media organisations, "We need to see who has published this book. If it is published by the government, then this is a very serious issue. If they can call Bose a terrorist, they can call Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru terrorists. These are revolutionaries who gave up their lives for our country fighting against the British. You could call them extremists for their time, but they were revolutionaries."
This is not the first time the West Bengal government has tried to “correct” history books. Just after coming to power, it had decided to drop chapters on Marx from higher secondary education books.