Kannada Chalavali Vatal Paksha leader and former MLA Vatal Nagaraj has demanded that the Tamil Nadu government restore Kannada as first language for schoolchildren in Talawadi hobli bordering Chamarajanagar district failing which his party would block the road to Talawadi.

Speaking to presspersons here after presenting a memorandum to Chief Secretary S.V. Ranganath, Mr. Nagaraj alleged that Tamil Nadu had deprived Kannada-speaking children in the border town of an opportunity to learn Kannada by imposing Tamil as the first language in schools violating the Constitutional guarantee to linguistic minorities.

Mr. Nagaraj complained to the Chief Secretary that more than 10,000 men had fled Talawadi to Chamarajanagar seeking shelter, as the Tamil Nadu police arrested 150 Kannada leaders and activists.

He said that women members of these families had remained there but are scared of more trouble. He alleged that the intention of Tamil Nadu was to destroy Kannada and the culture of Kannadigas in that State.

Recalling his arrest by the Tamil Nadu police in 1969 in Talawadi when he went there demanding merger of that town with Karnataka as a large population spoke Kannada, he alleged that Kannadigas in Hosur of Tamil Nadu, Kasargod in Kerala and Solapur in Maharashtra were being discriminated against by those governments.

He said that the ruling party in the State was busy with intra-party quarrels and had no time to look into a serious issue affecting Kannadigas. He requested Mr. Ranganath to convey his demand to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, and the Chief Secretary and the Director-General and Inspector-General of Police to help release the activists.

It is unfortunate, he said, that none of the members of Parliament nor MLAs and MLCs from the State had raised the issue in public seeking justice for the affected people.