The NCERT has dropped references to the demand for a separate Sikh nation of Khalistan from the class 12 political science textbook following objections from the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), according to top education ministry officials.
The SGPC had last month alleged that the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) misrepresented historical details about Sikhs in its class 12 political science textbook.
The Sikh body's objection pertained to the mention of the Anandpur Sahib resolution in the book, "Politics In India Since Independence".
The dropped sentences are -- "the resolution was a plea for strengthening federalism but it could also be interpreted as a plea for a separate Sikh nation" and "the more extreme elements started advocating secession from India and the creation of 'Khalistan'".
The statements have been rewritten as "the resolution was a plea for strengthening federalism".
"Representation from SGPC was received regarding withdrawing objectionable content against Sikh community by misrepresenting Sri Anandpur Sahib resolution. A committee of experts was constituted by NCERT to examine the issue and the decision was taken on basis of the recommendations of the panel," said Sanjay Kumar, school education secretary, ministry of education.
"A corrigendum has been issued by NCERT. While the physical books for the new academic session have already been printed, the changes will reflect in the digital books," Kumar added.
The Anandpur Sahib resolution was a document adopted by the Shiromani Akali Dal in 1973. The resolution affirmed the party's commitment to the Sikh religion and demanded greater autonomy for Punjab. It also demanded that the city of Chandigarh should be handed over to Punjab and that Punjabi should be given second-language status in neighbouring states.
Dropping several topics and portions from the NCERT textbooks had last month triggered a controversy, with the Opposition blaming the Centre of "whitewashing with vengeance".
At the heart of the row was the fact that while the changes made as part of the rationalisation exercise were notified, some of these controversial deletions weren't mentioned in them. This led to allegations about a bid to delete these portions surreptitiously.
The NCERT had described the omissions as a possible oversight but refused to undo the deletions, saying they were based on the recommendations of experts. It has also said the textbooks are anyway headed for revision in 2024 when the National Curriculum Framework kicks in.
However, later NCERT had changed its stand and said "minor changes need not be notified".
Among the references that were dropped from class 12 history textbook were certain portions on Mahatma Gandhi and how his pursuit of Hindu-Muslim unity "provoked Hindu extremists", and on a ban on the RSS.
"Gandhiji's death had magical effect on communal situation in the country", "Gandhi's pursuit of Hindu-Muslim unity provoked Hindu extremists" and "Organisations like RSS were banned for some time" are among the portions deleted from the textbook.
The portions referring to Gujarat riots were also dropped from class 11 sociology textbook, months after NCERT removed the reference to the 2022 communal violence in two class 12 textbooks.