Language issue: Southern Railway comes up with fresh circular

Chennai: Southern Railway issued a circular today, superseding circular No. 15, dated 12.06.2019,  that caused a furore in Tamilnadu. The earlier circular had made English and Hindi mandatory in Tamilnadu as the languages of communication between divisional control officers and station masters.

But today’s circular, a copy of which is attached to this news item, is as clear as opaque glass. The ambiguity still persists with the circular saying that attention is required to ensure communication between control and station masters is ‘improved’. There is no mention of the language.

The 12 June circular was withdrawn after the DMK took it up with officials, with the Opposition slamming it as another attempt at “imposing” Hindi.

The circular, published in a section of the media Friday, had come days after a reported language issue between two station masters in Madurai district, leading to two trains running on the same track. Three officials were suspended over the incident.

Calling the present move “arrogant”, DMK president M K Stalin alleged that the circular amounted to imposing Hindi and destroying the local language. “They are repeatedly playing with the sentiments of Tamils… If such cheap orders are not stopped immediately, we will put a full stop to them,” Stalin posted on Facebook in Tamil.

On the DMK chief’s instructions, party MP Dayanidhi Maran presented a memorandum to Southern Railway General Manager Rahul Jain and Chief Operations Manager S Anantharaman against the circular.

The officials assured they will withdraw the circular with “immediate effect”.

Dayanidhi  later told reporters that the DMK will “make any sacrifice” to prevent what he said was the imposition of Hindi in Tamil Nadu.

Southern Railway officials clarified that the circular was “purely internal” and issued to avoid any communication problem.

The controversy comes close on the heels of the row over the alleged imposition of Hindi in the draft new education policy, which was revised later. The DMK had said only the two-language formula should exist in the State.

“We had come with the intention of staging a protest if our demand was not heeded to, but they have assured (us of) cancelling the circular and Stalin has ensured a good solution to the matter,” Dayanidhi said today.

“(The) DMK will make any sacrifices to prevent attempts at Hindi imposition,” he vowed.

PMK founder S Ramadoss and MDMK chief Vaiko also slammed the move. Ramadoss wondered if there was any “gag” on communicating in Tamil among the railway staff and urged that more Tamil-speaking people should be employed in the Central department in the State.

Even non-Tamil speaking people should be asked to learn the local language, the PMK leader said in a statement. “The circular is an attempt at imposing Hindi, which is condemnable,” he said.

Vaiko warned that attempts at “Hindi imposition” in the railway department would lead to an outrage in the State. “The Centre is aggressively trying to impose Hindi by all means,” he said, and recalled the stiff resistance to the Centre’s proposed three-language formula from States like Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Telangana and West Bengal.

Dravidar Kazhagam leader K Veeramani also criticised the move by Southern Railway.

(With PTI inputs)

NT Bureau