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Textbooks referring to Jesus Christ as 'demon' sparks outrage in India

(Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee)Demonstrators shout slogans as they hold placards during a protest outside a church in New Delhi February 5, 2015.

A Hindi language textbook that refers to Jesus Christ as a "demon" has sparked outrage among the Christian community in Ahmedabad, India.

According to News 18, a chapter of a Class 9 Hindi subject textbook contains a Hindi phrase that translates as "one statement of demon Jesus is always memorable."

Officials stated that the phrase was a mistake caused by a misprint and the education minister and the chairman of the textbook board have vowed to rectify the error.

Advocate Subramaniam Iyer, who noticed the mistake, said that the error could create a rift between communities and cause a law and order problem even though it was unintentional.

"Jesus is being portrayed as a demon to students. Quite clearly, this is a case that attracts section 295(a) of the IPC that pertains to hurting the religious sentiments of any class," Iyer said. "This simply is unacceptable and should be removed immediately," he added.

Nitin Pethani, chairman of the Gujarat State School Textbook Board (GSSTB), said that the phrase in question was a typographical error.

"The word 'haiva,' a disciple of Jesus Christ, got misprinted as 'haivan,' meaning a demon," he said, claiming that "Aadam Isa" and "Haiva Isa" were the two disciples of Christ and an "n" was inadvertently printed in the book.

The GSSTB has said that the error has been removed from the online edition of the book, but the board noted that it will be impossible to withdraw the print editions as the textbooks have already been distributed to the students.

Fr. Vinayak Jhadav, the spokesperson of the Catholic Church of Gujarat, said that the error was reported to the chairman of Pethani as well as the principal secretary of education and the chairman of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) about a month ago.

"When we did not hear from the textbook board, we took the matter to the Gujarat United Christian Forum and decided to represent the case before the state education minister for an explanation, correction and disciplinary action against those responsible for the error. This is not about religion, it is about quality of education," Jhadav said, as reported by Times of India.

This was not the first time that an error has been printed in school textbooks published by the GSSTB. In one instance, a book listed the wrong date of Mahatma Gandhi's death anniversary. Another school textbook had claimed that Japan had dropped the atomic bomb on the U.S. during World War II.

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