A supplementary study material by a private publisher in Telangana has sparked a row as student groups alleged that parts of the content are Islamophobic, portraying Muslims as ‘terrorists’.

Following the backlash, the publisher released an apology letter stating that they have decided to delete the picture and reprint the books. “We are also in the process of collecting back unsold copies from the market to avoid any further inconvenience to anyone,” it read. The education department of the government of Telangana also clarified that the question bank was not from the prescribed textbook set by them.

A picture published in the ‘Question Bank’ for social studies of Class 8 depicts a man carrying a Quran in his hand and a rocket launcher in another hand, as a ‘terrorist’. The picture appears in the chapter  ‘National movement – the last phase 1919-1947’.

After a photo of the content surfaced on social media, it sparked reactions from people and student groups who took a strong exception and demanded that the content be withdrawn.

Shaikh Aslam, a Twitter user who first brought it up on Twitter said, “This humiliates Muslim students, teachers, and the community, and also lead (sic) to destroy the unity and integrity of the country,” he tweeted.

Dr Talha Faiyazuddin, who heads Student Islamic Organisation in Telangana termed the content ‘Islamophobic’.

Lawmaker Ahmed Bin Abdullah Balala who is MLA from Malakpet said the content is “blasphemous” and “hurting feelings of Muslims”.

In a letter to the state’s education minister P. Sabita Indra Reddy, Abdullah said that the content is “highly objectionable and will not be tolerated and may spread hate in the community.”

Others also pointed out that it was not just one publication that indulged in pedalling such hate content.

“Not only one but many publishers published this. One example is VGS Publishers from hyd. I have taken this from my sister’s material,” he said in a tweet.

Dr Faiyazzuddin said such content helps in “creating and propagating stereotypical, hateful and Islamophobic view towards the Muslim community, by showing a person holding a gun in his right hand and the holy Quran in left hand. It is a discriminatory and hateful content which destroys the harmony, unity, and integrity of the society,” he said.

Both the SIO and Balala appealed to the minister to take action against the publisher by filing a criminal case. They also demanded an apology from the publisher and a confirmation that the content will be removed.

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