In Odisha’s official booklet, Gandhi’s murder was described as an ‘accident’, controversy erupted

Anand ST Das
Bhubaneswar. Controversy has erupted in Odisha after a claim related to the death of Mahatma Gandhi in a government booklet. It has been claimed that Mahatma Gandhi died due to ‘accident’. Leaders and workers of political parties have asked Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to apologize and rectify this “big mistake” immediately. The Congress has demanded that either the Chief Minister should apologize in the Patnaik case and or else he should resign from the post.

inquiry ordered
A two-page booklet ‘Ama Bapuji: Eka Jhalak’, published on the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, gives a brief account of his teachings, his works and his association with Odisha. It has been claimed that Gandhiji ‘died due to an accident in Delhi’s Birla House on January 30, 1948 in a sudden incident.’

Odisha: The assassination of Mahatma Gandhi has been described as an ‘accident’ in the school book.

Amid the ruckus over the booklet, the Patnaik-led government has ordered an inquiry to find out why the Department of School and Mass Education published such information. This booklet was published for distribution to state government schools and state government aided schools.

Congress’s target on CM Patnaik
Senior Congress leader and former minister Narsingh Mishra said that the Chief Minister, being the head of the government, should apologize for the wrong information published in the booklet. He called the mistake an ‘unforgivable act’. The Congress Legislature Party leader said, “Patnaik should take responsibility for this big mistake, apologize and issue instructions to take back the booklet immediately.”

Mishra accused the BJD government of supporting those who hated Gandhi, saying that children have every right to know who killed Mahatma Gandhi and under what circumstances he was assassinated. He said, ‘The information of his death was given in this way to appease those who hated the Father of the Nation.’

He also raised the question that if the government believes that Gandhi’s assassination was an ‘accident’, then it should also clarify whether it is looking for land to install a statue of Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse.

Minister could not understand the question
This issue also raised loudly in the assembly. When the Speaker of the Assembly Surjaya Narayan Patro asked School and Mass Education Minister Samir Ranjan to reply in this regard, there was a ruckus in the House. In such a situation, Revenue Minister Sudam Marandi responded by rising from the seat. But everyone was surprised by his answer. He said, ‘My department has not installed Godse’s statues. You know that this has been done by the Department of Culture. It is decided by the cultural department whose statue is to be installed. It has nothing to do with the revenue department. After his answer, the members were surprised that perhaps he could not hear Narsingh Mishra’s question properly.

‘Children should be told the truth’
CPI state secretary Ashish Kanungo also alleged that the move was part of a conspiracy hatched by the state to distort history and hide the truth. Kanungo said, ‘Everyone knows that Nathuram Godse killed Gandhiji, after which he was caught, tried and sentenced to death. The truth should be told to the children and the booklet should be withdrawn immediately.

trying to mislead children
CPI(M) leader Janardan Pati also said that the government has “deliberately tried” to mislead the children. He said, ‘Cleverly told untrue. The Chief Minister should apologize for this big mistake.

Eminent educationist Professor Manoranjan Mohanty demanded immediate action against those responsible for presenting wrong facts in the government publication. Social activist Prafulla Samantara claimed that “those sympathizers of Godse must have influenced the writer and publisher”. He emphasized on publishing the correct information and redistributing the revised booklet among the students. Sources said that the government has already started the process of withdrawing the booklet from the schools.
(also from input language)

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