Agreeing that Ambedkar's cartoon in an NCERT textbook was objectionable, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal on Friday said orders have been issued to withdraw it and stop distribution of these books, and promised concrete action in the matter.
Responding to concerns expressed by members in Rajya Sabha, Sibal said the government will also examine whether any criminal offence was made out against those who drew or included the cartoon of B R Ambedkar in the textbook.
Admitting that there were many other objectionable cartoons of political leaders in NCERT textbooks, he said his ministry has decided to constitute a committee of experts to look into cases of all such objectionable cartoons and remove them.
"When I got information in the beginning of April, I wrote a letter to NCERT that such a cartoon should not be there as it is objectionable...On April 26, 2012, I wrote to NCERT stating that it is considered advisable to withdraw the cartoon. After this, they set up a Committee to examine this," Sibal said.
"Then I called all textbooks and found there are many other such cartoons about other leaders which are objectionable. Then I decided to set up a committee to look into all textbooks. I told NCERT to stop distribution of all books immediately," he said.
When asked by BSP member Mayawati as to what action the Government was taking against those responsible for inclusion of Ambedkar cartoon in textbooks and by when would action be taken, Sibal said, "Nothing objectionable about Babasaheb Ambedkar will be allowed and action will be taken so that this is not repeated."
Sibal, however, said, "It is up to the courts to decide what provisions of law have been violated," at which Mayawati asked him that the government should move the courts and register FIRs.
Clarifying that the textbooks are made by an independent textbook authority -- Textbook Development Committee, which comprises academics and not officials of NCERT.
He said none of the existing members of the present Textbook Committee, which approved this book, will be part of the new Committee set up to examine objectionable cartoons.