Kolkata: Over 50 eminent Bengali personalities from different walks of life have called upon the people of West Bengal to give "due respect to all languages" and "resist attempt to impose just one".
Taking to Facebook, they issued a statement on Monday, urging people to register a strong protest against any bid to edge out Bengali language from their lives.
Among the signatories are poet Subodh Sarkar, poet-columnist Binayak Bandyopadhyay, elocutionists Urmimala Basu and Jagannath Basu and independent filmmaker Pradipta Bhattacharya.
The social media statement was issued two days after Union Home Minister Amit Shah pitched for a common language in the country and said it was Hindi which is spoken the most and can unite the country.
Apprehending that "a day may come in foreseeable future when our own language, our mother tongue, our dearest Bengali language will become threatened", it said that "intimidatory tactics" from certain quarters to impose one language should be resisted.
Sarkar, in a separate statement, said, "I respect Hindi language. But I equally respect Malayali, Marathi, Konkoni and all other languages spoken in this country."
No language can be greater or smaller, no language can be superior or inferior to another, he insisted.
"India is a country of multiple languages. But we should keep in mind mother tongue is the true ration card of a citizen," he maintained.
Pointing out that Hindi has always been the link language across all sections of society, while English is primarily used by a particular section, Sarkar said, "What happened overnight that someone (Shah) had to declare 'one nation, one language' slogan again!"
Protests have erupted in several parts of the country after the Union home minister, in a series of tweets, called for 'one nation, one language'.
Veteran leaders such as Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) president MK Stalin and former Karnataka chief ministers Siddaramaiah and HD Kumaraswamy have criticised Shah for his pitch on the occasion of Hindi Diwas.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had also said on Saturday that people should respect all languages and cultures but not at the cost of their mother tongue