New Delhi – Authorities in India’s north-eastern state of Meghalaya have seized textbooks showing pictures of Jesus Christ holding a cigarette and a can of beer, news reports said on Saturday.
Meghalaya police also registered a criminal case against the New Delhi-based publisher whose textbooks for primary school classes have caused an outrage in the state where 72% of the population is Christian, the NDTV news channel reported.
Officials in state capital Shillong are also contemplating legal action against Skyline Publications, the report said.
“We are shocked and hurt by this act where Jesus Christ has been portrayed in a highly objectionable manner,” Shillong Archbishop Dominic Jala told the IANS news agency.
“We condemn the total lack of respect for religions by the publisher.”
In the book, the word “idol” is used for the letter “I” together with the controversial picture.
“Just imagine students at such an impressionable age being shown objectionable images which are nothing but blasphemous,” T Jrwa, another church leader, said.
The Catholic Church in India has banned textbooks by the publisher from all its schools, bishops’ conference spokesperson Babu Joseph said.
The National Council of Churches in India also asked the government to take strict action against the publisher and to ban any offensive publications from schools in the future.