Rashmi Rekha Das

Members of All India Ho Language Action Committee staged a sit-in at Lower PMG Square on Friday seeking constitutional recognition to Ho language.

Tribals from Bhadrak, Balasore, Cuttack, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Deogarh, Sambalpur and Sundargarh districts, who gathered at the protest site said, over 15 lakh people in the state speak Ho language. People belonging to Ho, Munda, Kolha and Koi communities speak in the Ho language.

Also, the protestors demanded the state government to approve Ho script and teach the tribal language in Anganwadis, Universities and primary schools. Besides, they demanded recruitment of 500 teachers to teach the language in schools.

“Every citizen has the right to be taught in his/her mother tongue as guaranteed in Article 350 of our Constitution. Thus, there is an urgent need to promote the language,” said a member of the Committee, Manoranjan Taria.

The committee members have threatened to intensify their stir if the state government does not consider their demands at the earliest. 

“The Jharkhand government has given recognition to Ho language. The Odisha government should take cue from the Jharkhand government and include the language under 8th Schedule of the Constitution. As the Ho language is not recognized officially, Ho-speaking people find it hard to mix in the mainstream of the society”, rued another committee member.

A delegation of the committee also met the Odisha governor to press for their demands. 

Notably, indigenous peoples residing in Odisha have been demanding the inclusion of Ho and Mundari languages in Constitution since long. The Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had also written to the Centre twice seeking inclusion of two tribal languages in 8th Schedule of the Constitution. But it is yet to be executed. 

It is learnt that nearly 15 lakh tribal people living in Odisha and Jharkhand speak the Ho language. Ho is the second most widely spoken tribal language in Odisha after Santhali, which has already been recognised.

Reported by Bibartan Panda, OTV