A rights collective staged a protest here on Saturday over the school textbooks row, giving a 10-day ultimatum to the Karnataka government to comply with their demands, which include withdrawal of the revised textbooks and resignation of the state Education Minister.
Former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, state Congress president D K Shivakumar, former Supreme Court Justice V Gopala Gowda, former High Court Justice H N Nagmohan Das, pontiffs, writers were among the people mobilised by the ‘Vishwamanava Krantikari Mahakavi Kuvempu Horata Samiti’ for the protest.
The protest was held at the Freedom Park here.
Withdrawal of textbooks framed by writer Rohith Chakratirtha headed review committee; continuation of textbooks designed by the previous Baraguru Ramachandrappa committee (under Siddaramaiah led Congress regime); a case of treason against Chakratirtha for allegedly insulting poet Kuvempu and the Nada Geete (state anthem) he wrote, were among the charter of demands proposed by the Samiti President G B Patil and signed by over 500 people.
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It also sought the resignation of Primary and Secondary Education Minister B C Nagesh for the textbooks controversy.
The controversy had erupted with some organisations raising objections over the alleged replacing of a chapter on Bhagat Singh with an essay on a speech by RSS founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar in the revised Kannada textbook for Class 10.
Subsequently, there were charges about the omission of a chapter on Narayana Guru and several other prominent figures and their literary works.
There have been demands by opposition Congress and some writers for action against Chakratirtha for allegedly saffronising school textbooks by including Hedgewar’s speech, and omitting chapters on key figures like freedom fighters, social reformers, and writings of noted literary figures.
There are also allegations of erroneous content on 12th century social reformer Basavanna and certain factual errors in the textbooks, including accusations of disrespecting ‘Raashtra Kavi’ (national poet) Kuvempu and distortion of the state anthem penned by him.
Following the raging controversy, the government recently “disbanded” the textbook review panel, as its designated work was completed, and had said that it is open for further revision if there is any objectionable content.
It has also placed before the people the contents of the original text book and those revised during the erstwhile Congress and the present BJP regimes.
The Samiti at the protest today wanted to handover the charter to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai. However as it could not happen, it was handed over to Gowda to be forwarded to the government.
Patil said, it has been decided to give the government 10 days to meet the demands, following which the next course of action will be decided, if things don’t go positively.
Demonstrating his protest at the event, KPCC chief Shivakumar even tore a copy of the purported revised textbook.
“The government should withdraw the textbooks. Otherwise, after the 2023 Assembly elections, the textbooks will be thrown away, he said.