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5 Jul 2017

Language issue: Bangalore fury at Hindi in Metro..

The Hindi name of the Chickpete Metro station in Bangalore had been masked
with tape for the past few days. The tape had been removed on Tuesday 
K.M. Rakesh, TT, Bangalore, July 4: Pro-Kannada activists have begun street protests in Bangalore and threatened to deface Hindi words on signboards at Metro stations, which they see as the Centre's attempts to impose Hindi on state government projects.
The influential Kannada Rakshana Vedike, a self-appointed "apolitical" guardian of the state's language, has urged the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd to erase Hindi from all signboards by July 6. The organisation has decided to seek the support of similar groups in non-Hindi-speaking states to work on a common road map.
There have been murmurs of discontent over the use of Hindi along with English and Kannada ever since the Metro was launched six years ago but the demand for the removal of Hindi intensified following a Twitter campaign called #NammaMetroHindiBeda (No Hindi On Our Metro). The campaign is similar to #ApliMetroHindiNako in Mumbai, started almost simultaneously.
After the Twitter campaign gained momentum and Kannada activists hit the streets last week, Hindi words on signboards at two Metro stations in Bangalore were found covered with brown mask tapes. However, the tapes were no longer seen today.
The Metro management refused comment when asked how the signboards had been taped.
When this newspaper contacted U.V. Vasanth Rao, the chief public relations officer of Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd, over phone, he said: "I have nothing to say on this."
The state government's Kannada Development Authority is awaiting a response to its notice to the Metro corporation on what action it had taken to remove Hindi from the signboards.
"We issued the notice on June 23 with a 10-day deadline for them to respond. But so far, they have not replied," K. Muralidhar, the Kannada Development Authority secretary, told The Telegraph today.
"Why Hindi in Bangalore? More people here speak Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. So why this special treatment for Hindi?" he asked.
Muralidhar pointed to the Karnataka government's policy of following a two-language formula at projects implemented by it.
"We don't have an issue if central government agencies follow a three-language formula. But the Karnataka government's policy is to communicate to people in Kannada and English," Muralidhar said.
"The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd is a state government project although the Centre also funded it. That way, even our city and state bus transport corporations get some central assistance, but we don't place Hindi boards on them," he said.
Congress chief minister P.C. Siddaramaiah recently expressed dissatisfaction at perceived attempts by the Centre to impose Hindi on non-Hindi-speaking states after Union minister Venkaiah Naidu said it was the "national language" although the Constitution does not say so.
Siddaramaiah had lashed out at the BJP-led NDA government for "pushing" Hindi into Karnataka. "Just because Hindi is spoken in several north Indian states, it shouldn't be taken as a pan-Indian language," Siddaramaiah had said.
The second Bangalore Metro route that was inaugurated last month also has Hindi on signboards.
Hindi is more prominent at some stations than others on both routes. When the first route of around 7km was inaugurated in October 2011, the signboard announcements were in Kannada, English and Hindi. However, Hindi was removed at some stations last year.
T.A. Narayan Gowda, the president of the Kannada Rakshana Vedike, said the masking of Hindi words on the signboards at the two stations was "an eyewash".
"We will not fall for such tricks to deceive us. If the Metro officials are under the impression that this will pacify us, they are wrong," he said, threatening to blacken the Hindi letters.
Unlike in neighbouring Tamil Nadu, where a rejuvenated anti-Hindi movement has targeted signboards at railway stations as well, Kannada activists have restricted themselves to state government projects.
Twitter users alleged an attempt to "kill" the culture of non-Hindi-speaking states.
Vijay Mahantesh, a Twitter user, commented: "If 3 languages in Bengaluru is not imposition, why don't (you) have Kannada in Delhi and UP."
Rakshith J. Gowda commented: "Imposition of Hindi in non-Hindi area is the first step (to) kill the culture of that land."

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