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Vikash Sharma

The recent decision by the Jharkhand government to withdraw second language status to Odia has not only triggered resentment among the Odia speaking people in the neighbouring state, but the decision has also not gone down well with thousands of intellectuals and political leaders back in Odisha.

Protesting the exclusion of Odia language from the curriculum of Teachers’ Training course meant for primary teachers in Jharkhand, hundreds of people including teachers have staged multiple demonstrations in Saraikela and Kharsawan in the past couple of days.

“The new recruitment guideline by the Jharkhand government excludes Odia language. Odia speaking students are apprehensive about their future,” said a teacher.  Another teacher said, “All kind of Odia books have stopped coming here. The appointment of Odia teachers has stopped. This smacks of a conspiracy.”

On August 28, protestors under the aegis of Kolhan Odia Samaj alleged that for years Odia language has been deprived of due respect and neglected in Saraikela, which was once part of Odisha.

Saraikela and Kharsawan in Jharkhand were once Odia speaking princely states and among two of the 26 Garhjats which made up the State of Odisha. It is worthy to mention here that these are predominately Odia speaking areas. About 70 percent people in these areas speak the Odia language.

During the re-organisation (of states) exercise in 1948, these two princely states were clubbed with the erstwhile Bihar state which has become present-day Jharkhand after bifurcation. In 2011, the Jharkhand government had given second language status to Odia language. However, the same has been decided to withdraw which is likely to affect the Odia speaking people of Saraikela, Kharsawan, east Singhbhum, west Singhbhum and few other area of Jharkhand.

The King of Saraikela, Aditya Pratap Singhdeo said, “We will try to create a public movement to fight for Odia language and ensure that Odia language gets what it deserves for the benefit of students and teachers.”

Former Jharkhand Governor, Draupadi Murmi said, “I condemn such decision by the Jharkhand Government. I urge the Odisha government to take stern steps on the issue.”

Odisha School and Mass Education Minister, Samir Ranjan Dash has written a letter to the Education Minister of Jharkhand over the exclusion of Odia language from the curriculum of Teachers’ Training course meant for primary teachers in that state.

It is alleged that 150 Odia schools are being closed and recruitment of teachers has not been carried out for the last five years in Jharkhand. Under such circumstances, the exclusion of Odia language from the curriculum of Teachers’ Training course meant for primary teachers is unfortunate, said intellectuals.

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