Former Indian Space Research Organisation chief Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan on Wednesday denied that a panel he headed on drafting the National Education Policy was under any kind of pressure.

The first draft of his panel’s report, released on May 31, had recommended that students in non-Hindi speaking states learn a regional language, Hindi and English. Following protests by political leaders mainly in South India, the Centre on Monday tweaked the draft education policy and no more specifies languages for students to study in middle school.

“There was no pressure, and nobody even rang us to say that there was a problem,” Kasturirangan told NDTV during an interview. “I got up one morning to find out that there was tremendous resentment in some southern states. I called up my colleagues, and we sat together and debated our next move. That was how we decided that we should invoke the alternative version of the draft policy instead.”

Kasturirangan’s panel was appointed to draft a new National Education Policy to replace the existing one that was formulated over 27 years ago.

Kasturirangan said some states in South India showed “tremendous resentment” to the clause which suggested that students in non-Hindi speaking state learn Hindi. “There was no pressure to revise the clause on Hindi,” he said.

Kasturirangan rejected claims of Hindi being imposed in schools and said that the language had been made mandatory in South Indian states in the 1968 education policy and the successive ones formulated in 1986 and 1992. “We, in fact, have provided flexibility in that respect,” Kasturirangan said. “The three-language [policy] will be certainly adopted, it does not impose Hindi on any state.”

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief MK Stalin on Wednesday accused the Centre of trying to impose Hindi through the three-language formula. However, Kasturirangan said the committee decided to keep the clause on Hindi as studies showed that children learn languages easily when they are between the ages of three and eight.

“The three-language formula provides students with the basis for youngsters to pick up even more languages in the years to come,” Kasturirangan said. “We would be equipping them, and what’s wrong with that?”