New Delhi: The Assam Police has registered an FIR against three people who authored a political science reference book for students of Class 12 and criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his "silence" during the 2002 Gujarat riots in it. Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat when the riots took place. The FIR has been lodged at Assam's Golaghat Sadar police station.
On page 376 of the book, which is written in Assamese, it is mentioned that Modi was silent over the state-wide violence that followed the deaths of 57 people in a compartment of Sabarmati Express at Godhra Railway Station.
The three authors are Durga Kanta Sharma (former head of the department of Arya Vidyapeeth College), Rafiq Jaman (former head of the department, Goalpara College) and Manash Protim Baruah (head of the department of South Kamrup College). Sharma died a couple of years ago. The book has been in circulation since 2011.
The FIR was registered following a complaint by Soumitra Goswami and Manav Jyoti Bora. They have demanded that the book should be withdrawn from circulation.
They said the authors and publisher - Assam Book Depot - of the book are "trying to mislead" students by giving "false information" about the Gujarat riots, despite the fact that a special investigation team set up to probe the Godhra riots gave Modi a clean chit.
The duo says that the authors have accused the then Modi government in Gujarat of being "mute spectators" and the state administration of "helping" Hindus against Muslims.
On the other hand, the authors have denied the charges. They said there is nothing objectionable against the prime minister in the book.
Manash Protim Baruah said, "The book is written based on an NCERT textbook and was first published seven years ago. We have not written anything, which is not in the public domain. There are several other books, including ones prescribed by the NCERT, that have the same content regarding the Gujarat riots."
"We fail to understand why they have singled us out," he said.
He claimed that the police have not contacted the authors yet and that they heard about the FIR through media reports.
Superintendent of Police (Golaghat) Manabendra Dev Ray said the case was registered on September 16 under sections 153 (a), (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 505 (statements conducting to public mischief) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention.