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Activists From Non-Hindi States Unite, Plan Seminar to Take Language Battle Forward

A round-table seminar has been convened in Bengaluru on Saturday (July 15), for which invites have gone out to leaders from all non-Hindi States, said B Sanneerappa, spokesperson for the pro-Kannada outfit Kannada Rakshana Vedike.

Deepa Balakrishnan | CNN-News18deepab18

Updated:July 10, 2017, 3:17 PM IST
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Activists From Non-Hindi States Unite, Plan Seminar to Take Language Battle Forward
Hindi signage in the Bengaluru Metro plastered. (Screengrab from CNN-News18)

Bengaluru: Language campaigners fighting against imposition of Hindi by the Centre are taking their campaign to the next level by trying to unite like-minded people from all non-Hindi speaking states.

A round-table seminar has been convened in Bengaluru on Saturday (July 15), for which invites have gone out to leaders from all non-Hindi States, said B Sanneerappa, spokesperson for the pro-Kannada outfit Kannada Rakshana Vedike.

“In all these states, there is forced imposition of Hindi in some form or other that is going on. We want to save the languages of all these States for the future, so we have reached out the chief ministers, opposition leaders and leaders from interest-groups have been called, especially the Dravidian languages and a few others like Punjabi and Bengali,” Sanneerappa told News18.

Kannada activists have been disappointed about the lack of interest shown by BJP leaders like Venkaiah Naidu (who, two weeks back, said Hindi is the country’s national language), and Ananth Kumar and Sadananda Gowda who have not supported their campaigns on #NammaMetroHindiBeda.

Another vociferous campaigner, both online and offline, Arun Javagal says that responses from these states have been good – political parties like the DMK, TDP, TRS, Shiv Sena and political heads like Mamata Banerjee and MK Stalin have all welcomed the initiative.

“We want to send out a strong message to people who are pro-Hindi-imposition with this event. And again, it is not against Hindi, it’s against Hindi imposition. Almost all the parties have agreed to send their representatives,” Javagal said.

This comes as documents emerged over the last few days that show Central Government representatives visited the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) in July 2016, and insisted on Hindi usage as part of the official languages policy in Metro signages.

Karnataka Chief Secretary at the time had objected to this and written to the Union Urban Development Ministry to exempt BMRCL from the official languages policy as it is not a PSU under the Central Government, and Karnataka’s share in the project is far higher than that of the Centre’s. This letter, however, had been ignored by the Ministry.

It is in the backdrop of all these events that the anger against Hindi imposition in local transport has been growing.

“We all give taxes to the Centre. Just because Centre funds some project, they cannot discriminate against other States’ languages,” says Sanneerappa, who says the movement could even grow into a political force by 2020.

“We want to keep Hindi-high-command parties out, build a parallel to the NDA and the UPA. It is other parties that are saving our languages and identities – be it Kannada, Telugu or Tamil. We need to create an environment to usher in governments that don’t foist Hindi on us,” he says.

It may be early days yet for such ambitions, but the movement to unite non-Hindi States is building up.

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| Edited by: Ashish Yechury
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