The Maharashtra government told the Bombay High Court Tuesday that it could not give any assurance on whether it would delete a chapter in a Class 9 history textbook, wherein Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, the slain leader of the Khalistani movement, was referred to as a “terrorist”.
The statement was made by the state’s counsel, senior advocate V A Thorat, in response to a query from a bench of Justices S C Dharmadhikari and Bharati Dangre. The bench was hearing a writ petition filed by a lawyer, Amritpalsingh Khalsa. The petitioner has contended that the Balbharati textbook refers to Bhindranwale “as a terrorist and claims that he was arrested by the police, despite the fact that he was never arrested in his life”.
He has also accused the Maharashtra State Bureau of Textbooks Production and Curriculum Research (popularly known as Balbharati) of spreading a “vicious propaganda against the Sikh struggle movement” and has claimed that “Shaheed Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was considered a saint by many in the Sikh community”.
However, Thorat opposed the plea, saying the Khalsa was just an individual and did not represent the entire Sikh community.
“This is the second edition of the said book. The decision to print all the text material that it contains was taken by a body of over 30 experts,” he said.
“We cannot give the petitioner any assurance that the text he is objecting to will be changed or deleted,” he said.
Bhindranwale was killed during the Army’s Operation Blue Star at the Golden Temple in Punjab’s Amritsar in 1984. The bench has now reserved its judgment on the petition.