BMRCL caught in a bind over Hindi usage

BMRCL caught in a bind over Hindi usage

'No clarity on legality of use or removal'

BMRCL caught in a  bind over Hindi usage
The ongoing campaign against usage of Hindi in Namma Metro signboards has put the BMRCL in a clutch with authorities caught between the ire of protesters and the obligation to follow the rules.

The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL), a joint venture between state and Central government, cannot take a stand on keeping or removing information in Hindi in Metro trains and stations.

The campaign against “imposition” of Hindi is at least four years old and was renewed by Banavasi Balaga last month through a Twitter campaign. Karnataka Rakshana Vedike workers, who had staged several protests over the years, took the matter into their own hands on Thursday by blackening the signboards.

“With no clarity on the legality of use or removal of Hindi, Metro seems to be only the starting point for many other issues which will crop up eventually, if the campaign retains the same energy,” an official in the government said.

State leaders, including Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, have spoken against use of Hindi. But, the state government’s failure to bring out a language policy has complicated the situation at a time when protesters seem too eager to wait for formalities.

In June 2016,  the BMRCL wrote to the state government about the Centre taking objection for absence of Hindi in Namma Metro signage.

The state government on July 2, 2016, the requested the Centre to exempt Namma Metro from Official Languages Act and cited various reasons to justify it. “The BMRCL does not have the obligation to follow all the rules of the Centre, apart from laws related to Metro rail,” the letter states.

The Centre cited the Official Languages Act to make Hindi compulsory in all Metro signages. The state government noted that BMRCL was not a Central government office nor a PSU. “Namma Metro does not provide any service outside Karnataka.  It is not part of the Railways,” the letter said.

However, with pressure to introduce Hindi as well as remove the language increasing, the BMRCL urged the state government to arrive at a solution after consultations with the Centre.

Activists, however, think that the state government’s letter makes it clear Hindi was not needed. “The state government already took a stand last year against using Hindi in Metro. The recent move to compare language policies in other Metros is not necessary. The government should emphatically stand against Hindi imposition,” said Arun Javagal of Banavasi Balaga.

BMRCL officials said, “We are worried about safety of Metro property. Activists should understand that we don’t decide anything. It is the government that has to take a stand. We will follow its orders.”

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