Day after cartoon row, NCERT ex-adviser’s office vandalised

FP

A day after the uproar in Parliament over a cartoon of Dr B R Ambedkar and Jawaharlal Nehru in an NCERT textbook, three men vandalised the Pune University office of Prof Suhas Palshikar, the political scientist who was an adviser for the text.

Professor Palshikar had blue powder thrown at him, but was not otherwise harmed physically. Police arrested two workers of the Republican Panther of India, a small Pune-based Dalit group, for the vandalism. The group's chief said his colleagues had "lost control" because of the "blasphemy" against Ambedkar.

Palshikar and psephologist Yogendra Yadav, the chief advisers for NCERT's political science texts for classes 9 to 12, resigned yesterday after the government announced it would scrap the book with the sketch that MPs found offensive, and review all school texts for similar "objectionable" material.

The cartoon, a comment on the slow pace of India's mammoth constitution-making exercise, was drawn by the legendary Shankar in 1949 when Babasaheb was still alive, and has been a part of the NCERT text since 2006.

Palshikar, who is head of political science at the University of Pune, said three men entered his office Saturday afternoon and said they wanted to register a protest against the statement he had made in his defence after the incidents in Parliament on Friday.

"I invited them to sit down and discuss the matter, but they were too agitated to listen to me. However, we spoke for some time, after which they started shouting slogans. Then they picked up chairs and started throwing them at the cupboard and at window panes. They also threw blue-coloured powder all over me and the office, but they did not seem to have any intention of causing me any physical harm. My computer too was not damaged," he said.

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