Published: 22nd June 2022
Should Kashmir be handed over to Pakistan?: Question in MP's Civil Services exam paper sparks row
This is definitely not the first time that such a faux pas happened with MPPSC State Civil Services Prelims exam
Youngsters aspiring to join the State Civil Services in the BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, were asked on Sunday, June 20, "Shall India hand over Kashmir to Pakistan?"
The question, which is against the official stand of New Delhi and the Parliament's 1994 unanimous resolution, was part of the General Aptitude Test question paper of the MP State Civil Services preliminary exam 2021, conducted by the MP Public Service Commission (MPPSC) across the central Indian state on Sunday.
The MPPSC, at its end, announced on Tuesday, June 21, the nullification of the objectionable question plus, it also decided to debar the concerned paper setter and moderator from setting/moderating any question paper in future.
The opposition members of Congress demanded that the wrongdoers be booked for sedition by the BJP government if the state government really swears by the cause of nationalism.
Confirming action in the matter pertaining to serious question paper setting lapse, the state's home minister Narottam Mishra said, "Two paper setters/moderators, one hailing from MP and the other from Maharashtra, have been debarred by the MPPSC from any future paper setting/moderating exercise. It has been conveyed by the MPPSC nationally. The concerned question was highly objectionable, the Commission is writing to the state government's higher education department for action against the two experts."
As per the official statement released by the Indore-headquartered MPPSC, "The Commission doesn't agree with the contents of the concerned question in the General Aptitude question paper of the State Civil Services and State Forest Services Prelims Exam 2021, held on June 19. The concerned question has been nullified from the question paper."
The concerned question, which has kicked up a political row in the state, read, "Shall India decide to hand over Kashmir to Pakistan." It was followed by two logic, including Yes, it will help India save money and No, it will lead to similar demands. The controversial question was followed by four replies.
Opposition up in arms
The opposition Congress's State Head [Media] KK Mishra, "CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan needs to tell the people about how such an anti-national thought even cropped up in MPPSC's mind. If the government has nothing to do with the setting of the concerned question paper, then it needs to immediately book the wrongdoers for sedition."
Mishra also added that only this question, but a passage which formed part of the same exam's question paper, contained objectionable references to the Father of Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, relating to the killing and sterilisation of stray dogs.
Importantly, successive governments at the centre have declared Kashmir as India's integral part. The present Narendra Modi government has repeatedly made it clear that the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (Pok) too belongs to India and Delhi expects to have jurisdiction over that territory one day.
On February 22, 1994, the Parliament adopted unanimously that the entire Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh have been, are and shall be an integral part of India.
This is not the first time such faux pas happened with MPPSC State Civil Services Prelims Exam. In January 2020 — when the Kamal Nath-led Congress government was in power in MP — the General Aptitude Test question paper of the same exam conducted by the MPPSC had included a passage with objectionable content about the Bhil tribe.
The passage terming the Bhil tribe as alcoholic and criminal-minded was actually spotted by the then opposition BJP MLA Ram Dangore, who too was appearing in the same exam. The incident had caused major unrest in the state, particularly in the Bhil tribe-dominated Malwa-Nimar region.
A case was subsequently registered against the then MPPSC office bearers under provisions of the SC/ST Atrocities Act.
Just two months later, in March 2020, the Social Science examination question paper of the MP Board of Secondary Education (MPBSE) Class X examination had referred to Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) as Azad Kashmir.
Prior to it, in February 2020, a similar controversy had erupted over the use of the term 'revolutionary terrorist' in the MA (Political Philosophy) question paper of the state government's Jiwaji University in Gwalior.