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3 Jul 2017

Language war: Pro-Kannada activists to team up with DMK to protest ‘imposition of Hindi’

Language warVikram Gopal , HT, Bengaluru,  Jul 03, 2017: Protests over use of Hindi signages in Bengaluru Metro are breaking barriers with organisations that were up in arms against each other over Cauvery water sharing dispute are now teaming up to oppose the “imposition” of the language.

The Karnataka Rakshana Vedika (KRV), a pro-Kannada organisation, which spearheaded a violent protest against Tamil Nadu last year over the water dispute, has now approached a political party of the neighbouring state to bolster its anti-Hindi movement.

The KRV activists had set on fire Tamil Nadu registered trucks after the Supreme Court had directed the Karnataka government to release Cauvery river water to the neighbouring state.

Burying the hatchet, the KRV leaders are now in touch with the local unit of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) to protest, what it called, the imposition of Hindi.

It is also trying to get support from pro-Telugu and pro-Malayalam organisations of the state.

Senior KRV member Sanneerappa has confirmed approaching the DMK saying they are in touch with the local unit of the party.

N Ramaswami, a leader of the DMK’s state unit, too indicated the party is ready to join hands with its erstwhile bête noire.

“The Cauvery issue is in the court and we cannot do anything about it. However, the DMK has always been at the forefront of protests against the imposition of Hindi,” he told the HT.

The protests over alleged imposition of Hindi erupted in the state recently over usage of Hindi in the metro rail’s signboards in the city, prompting even Karanataka chief minister K Siddaramaiah to oppose the move.

Since majority of funding for the metro came from the state, it was not a central government project and thus does not qualify for the three-language usage policy, the chief minister said, condemning use of Hindi along with Kannada and English.

Amid the protests, officials of the Kempegowda Metro Station on Sunday put tape on the Hindi signages to avert any untoward incident.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (West) MN Anucheth said security has been beefed up around metro stations, though he refused to admit there were threats.

Recent remarks of Union minister Venkaiah Naidu in favour of Hindi too did not go down well with the pro-Kannada activists.

“Hindi as Rashtra Bhasha (national language) is very important, we cannot do without it...Most people in our country speak Hindi, so learning Hindi is also important... but we should be fluent in our mother language like Gujarati, Marathi, Bhojpuri...,” Naidu said.

Taking objection to the statement, Sannerappa said if Hindi is so important then the “central government should not depend on the taxes paid by southern states.”

“……we will refuse to pay (taxes) if the government is keen on imposing Hindi,” he said.

The pro-Kannada activists accused the BJP of imposing Hindi in the state.

“For the first time in the state’s history, a governor addressed a joint session of the legislature in Hindi. What else is this if not imposition of Hindi?” Sanneerappa asked.

The KRV also planned to launch a campaign against state’s BJP leaders, particularly Union minister Ananth Kumar, whom it accused of backing Hindi.

‘Imposition of Hindi’ in Bangalore Metro signboards irks Kannadigas

Vikram Gopal , HT, Bengaluru: Bengaluru’s much-awaited Metro rail project, the first phase of which was inaugurated on Saturday by President Pranab Mukherjee, has already run into trouble.

Signboards at stations that use three languages: Kannada, English and Hindi, have drawn criticism, with this being viewed as another instance of the imposition of Hindi.

The chairperson of the Kannada Development Authority (KDA), which is a governmental body, has written to the managing director of the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRCL) asking him to explain under what rules the signboards have used Hindi.

Chairman of KDA, S G Siddaramaiah told HT that under the Karnataka Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, Kannada was to be given importance over the other languages.

“I have written to the MD of BMRCL asking him under what rules Hindi has been added on the signboards,” he said.

“It is only central government entities that are required to follow the three-language formula whereas all other establishments should have Kannada and another language, with Kannada in larger font,” he said.

Siddaramaiah said an incorrect view was being promoted that Hindi was the national language.

“It is an official language like all others. If they want Hindi in signboards here, they must include our languages in signboards in places where Hindi is the predominant language,” he said.

Pradeep Singh Kharola, MD of Bangalore Metro, refused to comment on the issue.

“I have received a letter about the matter and it is an issue concerning BMRCL and the KDA. So, I cannot comment on this,” he said.

Siddaramaiah’s letter has raised the question about who owns BMRCL, a joint venture between the central and state government.

Pro-Kannada activist Vatal Nagaraj saw the hand of the Centre in the move to include Hindi in signboards.

“Ever since the Narendra Modi government has come to power, they have tried to force Hindi on to us. This is not the first instance,” he said and recounted how the governor Vajubhai Vala, a former minister in the Gujarat government under Modi, addressed a joint session of the state legislature in Hindi.

Before him, governors, who were not from Karnataka, spoke in English, he said.

Nagaraj said Kannada had to be promoted in the state and there could be no compromise on this. “People coming from other states are welcome here, but they must also make an effort to learn the local language,” he asserted.

A protest campaign is running online, with the hashtag #NammaMetroHindiBeda on Twitter.

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