Union Home Minister and BJP president Amit Shah’s appeal to accept Hindi as the national language has been vehemently opposed by several organizations, intellectuals and litterateurs.
While protest has been raised against Shah’s statement in States like Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, where Hindi is not the dominating language, in Assam, many people have reacted strongly on the social media.
Assam’s regional party, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which is a partner in the State’s BJP-led coalition government, has not issued any statement in this regard till Sunday.
The Assam Congress is also yet to react in this regard.
Speaking at a function to commemorate Hindi Divas, Amit Shah on Saturday said while unity in diversity is India’s defining trait, a common language (Hindi) is needed as a culturally unifying factor. He appealed to people to accept Hindi as the national language to get connected.
Immediately after Shah’s statement, DMK president M.K. Stalin on Sunday said the party will oppose any move by the BJP government at the Centre to impose Hindi on Tamils.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on the occasion of Hindi Divas stated: “We should respect all languages and cultures equally. We may learn many languages but we should never forget our mother-language.”
The Indian Constitution has not recognized any language as the national language. However, it has recognized Hindi and English as official languages.
Like Assamese and 20 other languages, Hindi is also a language in the list of 22 Indian languages.
Despite repeated attempts, All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) adviser Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharya could not be contacted for his comments as his mobile phone remained switched off.
Talking to Northeast Now, noted intellectual Dr Hiren Gohain said, “This is an inauspicious and dangerous message for of Assamese and the national interest of the Assamese people and their culture.”
“The political leaders of the saffron camp think of ‘one nation’ destroying the diversity of India. So they want to turn Hindi as the national language which has not happened so far. If it happens, there will be crisis of existence.”
“It will be a great loss for the constitution and democracy. Those, who have not opposed, should oppose it,” added Dr Gohain.
Dr Gohain also said the AGP should react against it.
“The AGP should react immediately. BJP’s Assamese MPs should also openly speak out what they think,” he added.
Scholar Apurba Kumar Barua told Northeast Now, “Amit Shah does not know about the history of India’s anti-British movement. During the freedom struggle, the Calcutta Congress understood that to come close to the masses, one has to go along with their language. So, they formed the Pradesh Congress Committees again on the basis of language. As a result the number of Congress members doubled in a year.”
“India is multi-lingual nation. Here one language cannot happen. Therefore there is no national language in the constitution. The small tribes in India have to live with their own languages. Amit Shah’s announcement is a threat to the small tribes. This should be protested everywhere.
“Like Tamil Nadu’s protest against the National Education Policy, there should be similar protest across India. The ethnic communities-tribes of the Northeast should strongly protest against it,” added Baruah.
Senior journalist and political analyst Adip Kumar Phukan told Northeast Now, “An attempt has been made to spread a seed of disturbance across India through Amit Shah’s statement. Attempt has been made to destroy the roots of the language of the Assamese community and other tribes of Assam.
“I warn Amit Shah – he should not make any statement regarding language. Only 55 crore people speak Hindi in India. It is not right to give blow to other mother languages in India for political interest,” said Phukan.
He asked Shah to withdraw his statement.