A Delhi government-run hospital on Saturday barred its nursing staff from speaking in Malayalam on the premises of the medical facility, reported The Hindu. It warned them of “serious action” if they do not talk in English or Hindi. However, the medical facility on Sunday revoked the order after it was widely criticised, said multiple reports.

“A complaint has been received regarding Malayalam language being used for communication in working places in GIPMER,” read a circular issued by the Govind Ballabh Pant Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research. “Whereas maximum patient and colleagues do not know this language and feel helpless causing a lot of inconveniences. So it is directed all nursing personnel to use only Hindi and English for communication. Otherwise, serious action will be taken.”

On Sunday, however, the hospital withdrew the circular, saying that the order was issued without the administration knowing about it. reported ANI.

The Delhi health department has also issued a memo to the hospital regarding the now-withdrawn circular.

The nurses at the hospital had criticised the move, saying they speak to patients in Hindi. “We only talk to other people from Kerala in Malayalam at the hospital,” said Jeemol Shaji, a nurse from Kerala, who is the general secretary of the nurses’ union in Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital. “It is our mother tongue. How can they say the staff cannot talk in Malayalam? Will they tell Punjabis not to talk in Punjabi among themselves?”

GB Pant nurses’ association president Liladhar Ramchandani said that the circular was the result of a patient’s complaint and claimed that there was “no issue among the nurses and the administration”, reported PTI. “As a language’s name, Malayalam, has been inserted in the circular, many will take offence,” Ramchandani said.

In view of the circular, Malayali nursing officer representatives from various Delhi hospitals including Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, All India Institute Of Medical Sciences and Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, had formed a committee to condemn the order, reported The Indian Express. They have also decided to launch a social media campaign against it.

Many Congress leaders criticised the order. Party leader Rahul Gandhi called for stopping language discrimination. Thiruvananthapuram MP and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said that the order was “unacceptable, crude, offensive and a violation of the basic human rights of Indian citizens”.