The Southern Railway on Friday withdrew a circular which instructed station staff and train operation controllers to avoid using regional languages for official communications, The Times of India reported. The circular, which was issued on Wednesday, said only English and Hindi should be used to communicate in order to ensure instructions are “fully comprehended”.
The Southern Railway withdrew the circular after Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam supporters staged a protest outside the its office in Park Town, Chennai. An unidentified Southern Railway spokesperson said: “The circular has been withdrawn. Orders will be issued shortly.”
The circular was sent out to all section controllers and station masters. “It is the responsibility of the control office to ensure that every instruction passed by it to the station masters is clear and fully comprehended,” the notice said. “Similarly, it is the responsibility of the station masters to ensure that requesting permissions or advising action taken by them is clear and fully comprehended by the control office.”
Gajanan Mallya, general manager of South Central Railway, said the communication was given “only for the operating part of it”. “So that they [station masters] understand and do not misinterpret railway signals,” ANI quoted Mallya as saying.
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief MK Stalin called the circular arrogant. “Through the circular, the Railway is not only trying to impose Hindi on Tamil Nadu but is also attempting to make it a dominant language,” The Times of India quoted him as saying. “The Railway is bullying its officials.” He said that the Centre should intervene and stop the decision to impose Hindi. “If not, the DMK will put a full stop to Hindi in the state,” he said.
Earlier this month, the draft National Education Policy caused a controversy when a panel of experts initially recommended that students in non-Hindi speaking states learn a regional language, Hindi and English, while students in Hindi-speaking states learn Hindi, English and a modern Indian language from other parts of the country.
Politicians in Tamil Nadu strongly criticised the decision. Stalin had claimed that the emphasis on Hindi in the draft education policy was a “greedy and wrong thing” and would cause a disaster.
Party leader Kanimozhi had said they would oppose the imposition of Hindi, while Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Vaiko warned of a “language war”. Tamil Nadu School Education Minister KA Sengottaiyan said the new policy will be rejected.
Following protests by political leaders mainly in South India, the Centre on June 3 tweaked the draft education policy and now does not state no more specifies languages for students to study in middle school.