Bengaluru: Amid the raging controversy over the usage of Hindi in Metro trains, the government has come under pressure to take a clear stand and formally ask Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRC) to use only Kannada and English in signages in trains and stations.
Pro-Kannada activists gearing up for a large-scale protest against the alleged imposition of Hindi have urged the government to come up with a clear-cut policy, without which confusion over the language issue will continue to disturb law and order. BMRC officials say they are caught in a bind and can not remove Hindi from signages without written instructions from the government.
“The government has to make up its mind and take a decision before the situation gets out of hand. With agitators disfiguring signages at Metro stations, the situation has become fluid. We are helpless as we are still awaiting the government’s instructions,” a BMRC official said on condition of anonymity.
Activists of Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (KRV), which is spearheading the anti-Hindi campaign, had recently blackened signboards at Metro stations and staged a demonstration in front of the BMRC office.
Kannada Development Authority (KDA), which has already shot off a missive to BMRC asking it to eliminate Hindi from its signages and public announcement system, is scheduled to visit the utility’s office on Tuesday. “We will assess the situation. Based on the findings, we will write to the government asking it to issue clear directions to BMRC to adopt a two-language policy and use only Kannada and English in all its communications,” said S G Siddaramaiah, chairman, KDA.
Interestingly, the government, which is said to be sympathetic towards the Kannada cause, is yet to issue any formal directive to BMRC on the issue. Chief minister Siddaramaiah is said to have orally instructed the utility to reduce the usage of Hindi, while Bangaluru development minister K J George has asserted that the government is for Kannada supremacy. This is in contract with the Centre, which had written to BMRC asking it to use Hindi in its public communications.
In a letter to BMRC dated December 9, 2016, under secretary to the Union ministry of urban development, had invoked the Official Languages Act 1976 and instructed the corporation to use three languages, Kannada, Hindi and English, in signboards, name boards, announcements and publication material.
The state government had written to the Centre earlier on July 2, 2016, seeking exemption for Namma Metro from the Official Languages Act. In the letter to the secretary, ministry of urban development, then chief secretary Arvind Jadav wrote: “Since BMRC is not a Government of India public sector unit, the mandate of using Hindi under the Official Languages Act should not be made applicable to Namma Metro.” However, there has been no reply from the Centre since then.