A government booklet describing Mahatma Gandhi's death as an "accident" has triggered a row in Odisha, with political leaders and activists demanding an apology from Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and immediate measures to correct the "blunder".
Published on 150th birth anniversary
The two-page booklet "Aama Bapuji: Eka Jhalaka" (Our Bapuji: A Glimpse) -- published on the occasion of 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi -- presents a brief account of his teachings, works and links with Odisha, while also stating that he "died due to accidental reasons in a sudden sequence of events on January 30, 1948 at Delhi's Birla House".
The Patnaik-led government, in the wake of the furore over the pamphlet, has ordered a probe to ascertain the circumstances that led to its publication by the School and Mass Education department for distribution in state-run and state-aided schools.
Congress demands an apology from CM Naveen Patnaik
Calling the error an "inexcusable act", senior Congress leader and former minister Narasingha Mishra said the chief minister, being the head of the government, must tender an apology for the misinformation provided in the booklet.
"Patnaik must take responsibility for the blunder, seek an apology and issue a directive to immediately withdraw the booklet," the Congress Legislature Party leader said.
Conspiracy to twist history: CPI
Accusing the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) government of favouring Gandhi haters, Mishra said children have every right to know who killed Mahatma Gandhi and the circumstances in which he was assassinated.
"The death of the Father of the Nation has been put in a way that it pleases his haters," he added.
Echoing similar sentiments, CPI state secretary Asish Kanungo alleged that the move was part of a conspiracy hatched by the state to twist history and hide the truth.
Government promises strict action
In a damage control exercise, state School and Mass Education Minister Samir Ranjan Dash asserted that the "matter was being examined". "The government has taken the matter very seriously and action will be taken against those found responsible for the act," he added.
--With PTI inputs--