Does a Kannada textbook literally claim that Hindutva ideologue VD Savarkar sat on a bulbul bird and flew out of prison? This is the latest viral controversy in Karnataka, where a Class 8 Kannada textbook has the passage, “In the room where Savarkar was jailed, there was not even a small keyhole. However, bulbul birds would visit the room from somewhere, on whose wings Savarkar would sit and fly out to visit the motherland every day.” Critics claim that the passage has been written to be interpreted literally, and will be confusing for students. The people behind the textbook however have rubbished the controversy, and said that the passage is ‘Sahitya Alankara’ — beautified prose.
The passage in question is part of a chapter on VD Savarkar in the Karnataka state board’s Class 8 Kannada (second language) textbook. The chapter introduces Savarkar to students, and this section is followed by an extract from a travelogue to Andaman written by Kannada writer KT Gatti. Gatti visits the Cellular Jail where Savarkar was imprisoned between 1911 and 1924, and writes about the Hindutva leader’s life in prison, as part of which he brings in the bulbul passage.
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