Citing public sentiment, CM tells Centre it is compelled to ask BMRCL to leave Hindi out of signage

‘The cultural aspirations and sentiments of the people of Karnataka need to be respected’

Updated - July 29, 2017 01:24 pm IST

Published - July 28, 2017 05:11 pm IST - Bengaluru

Usage of Hindi in Namma Metro’s signage has angered Kannada activists, leading to widespread protests.

Usage of Hindi in Namma Metro’s signage has angered Kannada activists, leading to widespread protests.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, on Friday, wrote to the Union Urban Development Minister Narendra Singh Tomar stating that the state government was “compelled to ask the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (BMRCL) to temporarily redesign the signages” and name boards in Namma Metro stations without using Hindi.

In a two-page letter, he has requested the Union Minister to review the earlier decision on use of three languages - regional language, Hindi and English - on all name boards and signages in Namma Metro Stations, asserting the centre’s three language policy was “not reasonable.”

Citing the widespread campaign against three-language policy in social media and the protests that followed, he said in the letter, “Presently it has begun to take a violent turn with activists trying to deface the Metro name boards/signages.”

Law and order issue

Although the State Government has “strictly dealt with” those who defaced the signages and maintained law and order in and around metro stations, it is counter productive to continue to insist on use of three languages including Hindi, the chief minister maintained. “This, especially in the wake of a continued agitation and demands from literatuers and intellectuals of the city for giving primacy to the language of the State and the languages with which people of the city and the commuters are familiar,” the letter said.

Mr. Siddaramaiah further said to Mr. Tomar, “You would also agree with me that the cultural aspirations and sentiments of the people of Karnataka need to be respected. Apart from the cultural need to give primacy to the language of the State, it is also practical to use those languages which local people can read and follow. It is not essential to use Hindi in signages as the commuters who use the metro are comfortable with reading and understanding Kannada and or English.” Hence, he said, the state was compelled to ask the BMRCL to temporarily redesign the signages without using Hindi.

Describing the language issue as a “sensitive matter”, the chief minister had a word of advise to the union minister. “I would like to impress upon you that it will be better to follow a persuasive approach rather than a mandatory approach in the matter of use of Hindi,” the letter added.

State’s financial burden

On the issue of finances, the letter stated, “Though both the Centre and state have equal (50:50) equity stake in BMRCL, the financial contribution of the state government is much more than that of the Government of India. Moreover, the supervision of operations, providing of security etc to BMRCL is the responsibility of the state government. Also, the state government has undertaken to repay all the loans contracted by BMRCL and also to bear the operating losses.”

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