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Hindi to be dropped from metro signboards: Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah tells govt

Pro-Kannada activists have been up in arms over Metro signs carrying Hindi text, viewing it as an imposition over their culture and demanding it be removed.

karnataka Updated: Jul 28, 2017 22:35 IST
Vikram Gopal
Vikram Gopal
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
The newly built Bengaluru metro network has signages written in Hindi, English and Kannada. (Arijit Sen/HT File Photo)

Signage in Hindi will be dropped from the newly built metro railway network in Karnataka, chief minister Siddaramaiah said in a letter to the central government on Friday amid mounting pressure from pro-Kannada groups.

Signboards at Bengaluru metro stations that use three languages — Kannada, English and Hindi — are viewed as another instance of central government trying to foist their language on the southern state.

Kannada outfits had defaced the Hindi words on metro signboards twice this July.

Siddaramaiah wrote to Union housing and urban affairs Narendra Singh Tomar about the decision to drop Hindi and respect the “cultural aspirations and sentiments of the people”.

The Centre was informed about the Karnataka official language policy, which allows Kannada and English.

The chief minister reasoned that Karnataka has the right to decide certain policies of metro projects in the state as it is paying more money than the Centre, and has the responsibility to supervise the public transport system’s operation and provide security to the network.

Besides, he said it would be practical to use languages that locals can read and Hindi is not commonly understood in Karnataka.

The letter ends with an advice for the central government.

“It will be better to follow a persuasive approach rather than a mandatory approach in the matter of the use of Hindi.”

Pro-Kannada activists such as Vatal Nagaraj had alleged that Centre was trying to impose Hindi.

“Ever since the Narendra Modi government came to power, they have tried to force Hindi on us. This is not the first instance,” he said.

He recounted how governor Vajubhai Vala, a former minister in the Gujarat government, addressed a joint session of the state legislature in Hindi. Governors who were not from Karnataka always spoke in English, he said.

Amid the protests, the chairman of the Karnataka Development Authority, SG Siddaramaiah, had asked the Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation to explain why Hindi was added to the signboards.

He said Hindi is not the national language, though some people incorrectly promote it that way.

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

First Published: Jul 28, 2017 20:02 IST