Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Apr 1:
While Odisha was draped in the festive spirit on the occasion of its 80th foundation day, some activists today took to a unique protest against increasing use of English instead of Odia in government offices as medium of written communication.
Activists of a fringe outfit ‘Samaj Andolan’ this morning blackened sign boards in government office and name plates written in English outside government quarters in the city to register their protest.
Black paint container and brush in hand, the members of the outfit shouted slogans, smudged the name-plates with a thin film of paint and pasted a slip of paper in Odia on every display plate asking to use Odia.
The typed sheets which read ‘Kebala Odia Lekhantu’ (Write only Odia) were superimposed on the name-plates of the government officials, especially bureaucrats residing near the Governor House area in the Odisha capital. During their protest campaign, the activists shouted slogans “Odisha Re Rahiba Jiye, Odia Bhasa Kahiba Siye” (Those who will live in Odisha will have to speak Odia).
A scuffle ensued when the activists were prevented from going ahead with their smear protest by policemen. They didn’t even spare the police control room (PCR) vans and distorted the van’s graphics.
At least five members of the organisation were detained by the city police.
“We have arrested these persons for creating nuisance in public place. They were caught while disfiguring the name-plates of government quarters,” a police official said.
“We condemn the deprecation of Odia culture and language. We shall campaign against the increase of obscenity and alcohol addiction in the state,” Kanhu Charan Beura, a detained member of the organisation said.
Protesting on similar lines, members of ‘Utkal Sammilani’ sat on a token strike in front of the Governor’s House seeking maximum use of Odia in government offices and other work places.
The protesters led by its President of Titlagarh unit, Gajanan Mishra shouted slogans and were later joined by senior politicians as well as intellectuals.
“The state government hasn’t initiated adequate steps to ensure use of Odia across the state and we would intensify our stir in the coming days if the government fails to do so,” Mishra thundered.
“We are trying at government-level to promote use of Odia in the offices,” Chief Secretary GC Pati said.
Among others, veteran politician Panchanan Kanungo, journalist Rabi Das and senior BJP leader Biswabhusan Harichandan also participated in the dharna.