Monday 30 April 2012

Indian School Textbook labels Pakistani Kashmir as Azad Kashmir

New Delhi (April 2012) - At least in new secondary education textbooks for class three in Indian Army schools in Srinagar, the Indian government accepted existence of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The new textbooks depict the map of Jammu and Kashmir exactly how Pakistan claims it to be, Indian media reported on Sunday. Indian government officially used to call this part of the disputed territory between two nuclear armed countries as ‘Pakistan-occupied Kashmir region’ but the new textbooks now have shown it as ’Azad Jammu and Kashmir’, a term used by Pakistan to describe the region. Further, the books showed Gilgit-Baltistan region, which India says is a part of Kashmir, is called the Northern Areas. Indian opposition Bhartiya Janta Party leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has said that the Education Ministry must get to the bottom of the matter. “The Education Ministry must look into the matter immediately. 

They must find out if this was a mistake or done deliberately,” he said. “This is a serious matter because Jammu and Kashmir is a controversial topic. If wrong information about the country’s boundaries is being taught to young children, then it must be stopped at once because it is goes against the good of the country,” he added. Meanwhile, Congress leader Rashid Alvi said action would be taken against those responsible. “We do not have information on the issue. If such a thing has been done, action will be taken,” he said. Reportedly, some Indian army commanders have now asked some of the school principals to get back to them with the books so that they can take a look. In the meantime, the Indian army has decided to write to the Education Ministry regarding the issue. Indian army has been maintaining that its position vis-a-vis the issue is very clear since the army is not a publishing authority. Also, the book was published by a leading publishing house based in Karol Bagh in Delhi, which means that, probably, the Education Ministry is going to sit up and take notice. Later, the Indian army withdrew the controversial class three textbooks from schools, without giving any explanation. 

The controversy surfaced three days ago when it was found that the map practice exercise book for schools run by Army Education Welfare Society showed PoK as ‘Azad Kashmir’. “As soon as the discrepancy was noticed, the Society withdrew the books,” sources in Indian army said on Sunday. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has, however, distanced itself from the controversy by maintaining that the exercise book in question was brought out by a private publisher and not of them which it prescribes for class one to class eight students. When asked to comment on the faux pas, Chairman Vineet Joshi said the Board has “Nothing to do with it”. “We prescribe only official board textbooks for class one to eight students. This book which is being talked about is of a private publisher,” he told PTI.

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