Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on Tuesday said that the state was not opposed to Hindi or any other language but against its imposition, PTI reported.

“Efforts are being taken to replace one’s mother tongue with Hindi and this is what we oppose,” Stalin said, according to India Today. “For them [Centre], Tamil and Tamil Nadu sound bitter.”

He made the statement while speaking at a virtual meeting organised by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam youth wing to commemorate martyrs of anti-Hindi language agitations in the state that had started in 1937.

The agitations included protests, riots and political movements after Hindi as a compulsory language subject in the schools of then Madras presidency. The demonstrations intensified when Hindi was adopted as the official language while framing the Constitution.

Also read: ‘Down with Hindi, Long Live the Republic’: How Madras fought the imposition of Hindi in the past

“Those who think of thrusting Hindi [on others] only view it as a tool to dominate,” Stalin said, according to PTI. “Just as they desire one religion for the nation, they want one language for the country. By thrusting Hindi, they want to ensure Hindi speaking people gain employment in all departments.”

He claimed that the Centre has been trying to reduce others in India to second class citizens by pursuing its agenda to impose Hindi.

“Tamils have no hatred for any language,” he said. “Learning a language should be left to the individual’s prerogative and should not create any dislike to a particular language by thrusting it upon others.”

He also said that the residents of Tamil Nadu should not be construed as narrow-minded because they insist on retaining their mother tongue.