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Ramakanta Biswas

Amid growing resentment over the decision to withdraw second language status to Odia in Jharkhand, hundreds of Odias living in the neighbouring State on Tuesday staged a massive protest in front of Saraikela district Collector’s office opposing the move. 

The protestors under the aegis of Kolhan Odia Samaj alleged that for years Odia language is deprived of due respect and neglected in Sareikela, which was once part of Odisha. 

The protest gained momentum after the Jharkhand School and Mass Education Department reportedly decided to withdraw recognition of Odia language as the second official language of the state, about 10 years after according the status.

   

According to the agitators, once the status is withdrawn, children cannot study Odia language in any school of Jharkhand. 

“Such step-motherly attitude was not shown towards Odia language in the State earlier by any government. Now, efforts are being made to destroy the existence of the language,” Minakshi Patnaik, chairperson of Sareikala NAC alleged. 

Gurucharan Nayak, former MLA of Manoharpur said, “Ever since the Hemant Soren government was formed, we Odias are being neglected and insulted. Facilities being given earlier for development of Odia language has now been stopped.”

On September 1, 2011, the Jharkhand government had recognised Odia, along with five other regional languages, as the second official language. However, the State School and Mass Education department has decided to revoke the status from 2021-22 academic year.

Meanwhile, Opposition BJP held the Odisha government responsible for the issue.  

“Children in cut off areas, who had been getting the facilities to learn Odia language, will not get the same in coming days. It is really unfortunate. The Odisha government can solve the issue through a high-level discussion. However, it requires the political willpower of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik,” said BJP State general secretary Prithviraj Harichandan. 

BJD MLA Rajkishore Das said, “Odia language was given the status of second state language in Jharkhand. After the incumbent government came to power, primary schools teaching Odia are not being given any grant, let alone the second language status. The government is showing narrow-minded attitude towards the Odia language,” he said.

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