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Kasaragod Kannadigas face language hegemony

Last updated: 07 January, 2011
Praphul Ram

The Kannadigas of Kasaragod, living in their own land for generations, have been patiently awaiting all these past 53 years to get the government orders, publications and bills printed in their native language of Kannada.

 But even after a long period, they have not been given justice.

Way back in 1961, the Kerala government had issued an order dated December 12 that all forms and other government publications should be issued in Kannada also since Kasaragod is a Kannada linguistic minority area, but that order still remains on paper.

The officials of the Kerala government have admitted that the demand for a Press by Kannadigas is genuine.  But there is government apathy when it comes to the question of getting government papers. A sense of alienation is, therefore, creeping over the Kannadigas that the State government is not responding positively to their long pending demand.


 Samithi President Advocate K M Balakuraya, in his letter to the minister, had demanded sanctioning of the government press in Kasaragod as the government machinery in the district is depending on the government press in Kannur for all types of forms and registers and other printed materials. It is difficult when we get all papers needed for election in Malayalam. We have to get it translated into Kannada,” Balakuraya told City Herald.

According to him, the superintendent of the Government press had said that they have so far not located a building to house the government press in Kasaragod. The KSEB had once issued its bills in Kannada, but it has stopped since three years, he added.

 Most of the officials posted in the predominantly Kannada and Tulu speaking areas do not know Kannada and they could not communicate with the local people in their language, said B V Kakkillaya,  Honarary President of the Karnataka Samithi.

“When we take up the issue with the Kerala government officials, they would say that Kannada forms and publications are not available at the government offices.
They get Kannada forms and bills printed at the government press in Kannur, but they are not being distributed in the Kannada speaking areas. Where all the Kannada publications disappear,” wonders Kakkillaya.

DC denies

On the other hand, Kasargod District Collector Anand Singh denied the version of the Karnataka Samithi and said that all forms are available in Kannada also.

However, he said that the government would look into the demand to set up a government press in Kasaragod.

History

The whole of Kannada speaking areas including Kasaragod once belonged to the erstwhile Tulu dynasty which extended from North Karnataka district up to Neeleshwaram. During the British rule, Mangalore was the district headquarters having its jurisdiction on a vast area of Tulu and Malayalam speaking areas.

  Even before the reorganisation of states various Kannada organisations had demanded the merger of the whole of Kasaragod Taluk north of Chandragiri River with Karnataka.
The Kasaragod Kanadigas had launched a long drawn agitation demanding merger of Kasaragod with Karnataka. A number of Kanadigas led by the Karnataka Samithi courted arrest and many of them including women were jailed following the pro-merger agitation.

Mahajan commission

When the agitation reached its peak, the Union government appointed Justice Mahajan as the head of a commission to study the issue. According to the Mahajan commission report, the whole of Kasaragod region north of Chandragiri River should be merged with Karnataka. But the Central government has not taken any decision on the issue even after a long period.

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