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Toon book adviser attacked

Pune/New Delhi, May 12 (PTI): The Pune office of Suhas Palshikar, who resigned as NCERT book adviser in the wake of the B.R. Ambedkar cartoon row, was ransacked today.

Late tonight, two activists of a party called Republican Panther of India were arrested after the organisation claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the cartoon was an “insult” to the Dalit icon.

Police said Palshikar was unharmed.

The persons who destroyed furniture at Palshikar’s office had been invited by the University of Pune professor for a discussion after they raised objections over the cartoon in school textbooks, the police said.

Palshikar, however, said he was not in favour of pursuing any criminal proceedings against the persons involved in the attack and that his intention had been communicated to the university registrar and the vice-chancellor.

“I am not in favour of pursuing any criminal proceedings against the persons involved (in the attack), because it is the person behind who are important... not the persons concerned because they are simply instruments,” he added.

Palshikar, a former head of the university’s politics department, had resigned after yesterday’s uproar in Parliament over the cartoon that forced HRD minister Kapil Sibal to apologise outside the House.

The professor was a member of the NCERT’s textbook development committee that had approved the Class XI social science book carrying the seven-decade-old cartoon showing Jawaharlal Nehru whipping Ambedkar to hurry him on the preparation of the Constitution. Ambedkar is shown sitting on a snail.

Political scientist Yogendra Yadav, another adviser to the committee who also resigned over the row, condemned the attack on Palshikar, calling it “tragic and sad”.

“Such attacks are nothing but farcical,” he said, pointing out that Palshikar had been a teacher to him on Ambedkar in the last 10 years. “For someone who has taught me Ambedkar, for him to be attacked in the name of Ambedkar... nothing can be more farcical, tragic and sad than this.”