Anti-Hindi agitation of 1938, 1965 proud moments for DMK, says Karunanidhi

A cartoon in the NCERT'S 12 standard political science book that depicts the anti-Hindi agitation of 1965 continued to evoke strident opposition from political leaders in Tamil Nadu, including DMK president M. Karunanidhi, who sought the Centre's intervention to remove it from the textbook.

“The anti-Hindi agitation of 1938 and 1965 – when the entire State revolted against the imposition of Hindi – are proud moments for the DMK. Tamils are boiling with rage over the cartoon that denigrated such a prominent protest,” Mr. Karunanidhi said in a statement here on Saturday.

Recalling his younger days in Tiruvarur, when he participated in the anti-Hindi agitation in 1938, Mr. Karunanidhi said opposing imposition of Hindi had always been one of the core principles of the DMK.

Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) general secretary Vaiko, who had written to the Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal demanding the removal of the cartoon from the textbook, said his party would hold a demonstration here on June 11 to highlight the issue.

Mr. Vaiko said the cartoon, by giving the impression that the students of Tamil Nadu did not know English, had hurt the sentiments of Tamils and humiliated the student community as a whole.

“The students who participated in the anti-Hindi agitation had good knowledge of English and wanted English to continue as the official language. They opposed Hindi because they feared that it would relegate Tamils to the status of second-class citizens in the country,” Mr. Vaiko explained.

He said a total of 65 student agitators had fallen to the bullets of the Army, which was deployed in the State to quell the student unrest, and eight other agitators died by setting fire to themselves in protest.

“This led to the Congress losing power in the State in 1967 and Anna [DMK founder C.N. Annadurai] after becoming the Chief Minister announced in the Assembly that Hindi would have no place in the State,” Mr. Vaiko said.

Dravidar Kazhagam president K. Veeramani said Mr. Sibal should be made accountable for the cartoons – first denigrating B.R Ambedkar and now ridiculing the anti-Hindi agitation – and should be dropped from the ministry for creating confusion in the domains of education, social justice and curriculum.

He said Dravidar Kazhagam founder Periyar E.V. Ramasamy in 1955 shook the country by announcing his decision to burn the national flag against the imposition of Hindi. He gave up the protest only after Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru gave a promise that Hindi would not be made compulsory.

“Can the NCERT seek to poison the minds of the students without knowing history? Textbooks should impart knowledge and information and should not impose views,” he said.