CHANDIGARH: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Sunday took strong exception to the SGPC's decision to sack noted Sikh scholar Kirpal Singh as the chairman of the Sikh History Resource Editing Project amid a controversy over the alleged distortion of the community's history in PSEB's class 12 text books.
Amarinder Singh flayed the decision, saying it was clearly taken by the SGPC, the apex religious body of the Sikhs, at the behest of their Akali masters.
Pointing to the timing of the decision, the chief minister termed it as "politically motivated" and accused the Akalis of "indulging in cheap political gimmickry to divert the public attention from their internal crisis".
He said the decision was also aimed at diverting the attention from the "more serious issue of the sacrilege cases, in which the Justice Ranjit Singh (retd) Commission had found them involved.
"Had the SGPC been even remotely concerned about the distortion of the history syllabus of the Punjab School Education Board textbooks, their two members, who were part of the oversight committee set up to review the syllabus, would have attended the meetings of the panel," Amarinder Singh said in a statement here.
A syllabus oversight committee of eminent Sikh scholars under the chairmanship of Dr Kirpal Singh was set up by the Amarinder Singh government to look into the alleged distortion of Sikhs history and and denigration of their gurus.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) had recently sat on a dharna in Amritsar against the Congress government for allegedly hurting the sentiments of the Sikh community by "denigrating" Sikh gurus in the newly published class 12 PSEB history books.
The chief minister flayed the Badals, accusing them of indulging in political witch hunt to create communal unrest in the state to further their political agenda.
On the issue of the history syllabus, the chief minister said it was the Akalis who were solely responsible - for distortions and mistakes in school history books during their regime in 2014, when the Human Resources Ministry of the BJP-led NDA government had taken the first step to 'rationalise' the syllabus of social sciences subjects in the name of 'nationalistic' approach.
"The HRD Ministry subsequently gave directions to the states to include an NCERT representative in the syllabus committee to be constituted for the purpose," he said.
Further, the chief minister said, the previous SAD-BJP government in the state had constituted a 14-member committee, mostly from amongst the teaching staff of the Panjab University, Chandigarh, and no one was taken from Punjabi University, Patiala or GNDU, Amritsar.
"One junior lecturer from Sri Guru Teg Bahadur Khalsa College, Delhi, was also included in the committee," he added.
In the name of rationalisation, the history syllabus was formulated in such a way that history of Punjab was introduced in four classes from 9 to 12 in an incoherent design, Amarinder Singh claimed.
He further said only two topics of the Sikh history were included in the class 12 syllabus.
The study of Guru Nanak Dev Ji was included in the Bhakti movement chapter, thereby, demeaning his status as founder of Sikhism, Amarinder Singh said.
The Akalis then quietly acquiesced to the fate accompli but created hue and cry after they were shunted out of the office," he said.
The chief minister said, "Dr Kirpal Singh's removal as chairman of the Sikh History Resource Editing Project at this critical juncture, when the syllabus was being reviewed in a rational and apolitical manner, indicated a clear attempt by the SAD to sabotage the efforts of the Congress government to resolve the issue in the larger interests of the students."