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Book Banned for Offending Sikhs

By ASIT JOLLY, Chandigarh, Oct. 15, 2005

A school textbook has been banned in the northern Indian state of Haryana for references offensive to Sikhs.

Authorities banned the book after complaints of 'derogatory' material about the 10th religious head of the Sikh community, Guru Gobind Singh.

Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said all available copies of the book had been seized.

The book was issued to students at the Delhi Public School in the town of Hisar in western Haryana.

The chief minister said he had directed the deputy commissioner of Hisar to conduct a thorough inquiry into how the text was permitted in a school book.

The ban was imposed following a complaint from the president of Punjab's main Sikh political party, the Shiromani Akali Dal.

Its leader, Prakash Singh Badal, said a chapter of the textbook bore derogatory and fictitious narratives, stating that Guru Gobind Singh killed a Pathan trader who sold him horses.

It also, in one section, depicted the guru as an old man repenting his 'sins.'

Mr. Badal demanded 'stern action against all persons responsible for publishing and prescribing the book as a school text.'

Describing the book as 'highly objectionable and hurtful of religious sentiment,' he warned it could provoke communal tension.