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1 Jun 2017

Language conundrum

Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, May 31:  The Darjeeling district administration today said the state government had no plan to impose Bengali on the hill people, while Mamata Banerjee suggested that there was no harm in Nepali speaking people studying Bengali at schools.
Joyoshi Dasgupta, the Darjeeling district magistrate, held a press briefing here and dubbed the language controversy as a mere rumour.
"Regarding certain rumours that are circulating in this district and elsewhere, a fear is being stoked up on imposition of Bengali and replacement of Nepali. On behalf of the government, I would like to clarify that there is no intention, I repeat, no intention to impose any kind of language on people in the hills," he said.
He went on: "Secondly, there is no intention and no plan to replace Nepali with any other language. There is no notification or circular of the state government, as of now, to this effect."
His clarification came following the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha's call for a two-day educational strike in the hills from tomorrow to protest against the alleged move to make Bengali a compulsory subject at schools across the state.
In Calcutta, the chief minister said students had to study Bengali up to Class X.
"Let the students of Darjeeling study Nepali, let the students of Terai study Hindi. Let them study in accordance with their capability. If I can speak Nepali, what is the harm if a Nepali speaks Hindi or Bengali. They have also different languages. Each community has its own language. I respect all the languages. I fail to understand what the problem is about.
You teach them Hindi, English. But then teach Bengali as the third language as well. Can't you teach Bengali as the optional language. Can't you teach Bengali as the third language. You study your language according to your preference, but Bengli has to be studied up to class X," said Mamata.
The Morcha has decided to hold black flag processions across the hills, Terai and Dooars to coincide with Mamata's hill tour from June 4 to 8.
Amit P. Javalgi, the Darjeeling police chief, said there would be necessary restrictions during a VIP's visit. "Otherwise, we are not against anyone conducting a rally as long as it is democratic and does not affect peace and normal life," he added.
The police said students could not be used in political rallies as per directives from court and the government.
The Morcha clarified that students would not be brought to the marches.

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