Bhasha Andolan postponed after state government’s assurance

Bhubaneswar: The 825-day-long Bhasha Andolan- a silent black flag protest demanding use of Odia language in official communication was postponed on Monday after assurances from the State Government.

Members of the protesting body who met senior officials of the government yesterday were assured that steps will be taken to ensure extensive use of Odia language in official communication.

Finance Minister Sashi Bhusan Behera, Development Commissioner & Additional Chief Secretary R. Balkrishnan and Additional Secretary in the Chief Minister’s Office Pradipta Mohapatra were present during the meeting, informed sources.

It may be noted that the forum has been demanding to make use of Odia language mandatory in all official business communication while pressing for punitive action in case of violation of the Orissa Official Language Act.

Forum convenor, Pradyumna Satpathy said, “We were assured that the state government will bring in two amendments in the existing Act. Although the black flag protest has been postponed, the Andolan will continue until our demands are met.”

It may be noted that since April 13, 2016 the Bhasha Andolan has been carrying out a silent protest in which four person carrying black flags take out a march everyday from Odisha Legislative Assembly to Raj Bhawan to press for their demands.

The State Assembly passed the Odisha Official Language (Amendment) Bill, 2018 which made penal provisions for government officials not using Odia language in official work. It also made provisions for non-compliance besides rewards to encourage maximum use of Odia language. However, the bill did not mention the quantum of punishment for violation of Official Language Act.