Rajasthan Teachers Launch 1,090-Km ‘Save Urdu’ March

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A group of people on padyatra for protecting Urdu

One of the demands of the yatra is revival of the dysfunctional National Commissioner for the Linguistic Minorities for no director has been appointed for the last four years

 Waquar Hasan | Clarion India

 NEW DELHI/JAIPUR – A group of people, including government teachers, have launched a campaign in Rajasthan against injustices being done to Urdu and other minority languages in the Congress-ruled state. ‘Dandi Yatra’ has been in progress since 1 November with several demands.

Talking to Clarion India, Shamser Bhalu Khan, a teacher in a government higher secondary school who is leading the march, said that their yatra had started from Rajasthan’s Churu and would end at Gujarat’s Dandi after walking for 1,090 km. Though the long march is aimed at communal harmony, its main demands are to make madrasa teachers’ jobs permanent, protect Urdu language and urge the government to open new streams in schools and colleges for Urdu.

Khan, who fell sick due to walking, said that they were also demanding revival of the dysfunctional National Commissioner for the Linguistic Minorities (NCLM). “The Central government is trying to finish it. No director has been appointed for it for the last four years.”

He said that he wrote multiple times to the Minority Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the President of India regarding this issue. But no action has been taken so far. The NCLM building is in a shambles. The employees at the department have been transferred to some other department and other department’s employees have been appointed there.

Tayyib Mehrab Khan, who is his spokesperson, said the yatra was currently in Udaipur and would continue till it reached Gujarat’s Dandi. He said if the government did not accept Shamsher Bhalu Khan’s demands, he would go on an indefinite hunger strike.

Mudassir Mubeen, a government teacher in Jhalawar who is part of the march, said that the government was planning to finish the Urdu language in Rajasthan. “Earlier, the BJP government was doing this but now the present Congress government was also doing this. According to the Article 350 of the Constitution, we have been granted rights that wherever there are students of minority languages, they should be taught their languages. The government is not implementing this rule.”

Mubeen said that in Rajasthan schools, Urdu was not taught even where there are enough students for the language. The government had come up with new rules that the language which had majority speakers would be taught in that school. “In schools, minority language speakers are generally in small numbers. This rule means minority languages will not be taught in schools. In this way, Urdu is already finished.”

“The government has put this rule on hold currently but our demand is that wherever in High Schools, there are 10 Urdu students in a class or 40 students in a school, Urdu must be taught there. He said our second demand is that madrasa teachers, who were paid very low in comparison to school teachers, be included in the third-grade rank.

He said that this was not the first time when they were campaigning for these demands. Earlier, they had held protest demonstrations for 117 days in Churu under the leadership of Shamsher Khan Bhalu. He was assured at that time that his demands would be implemented. But it was not done. This time, according to Mubeen, the government was not in the mood to talk. It is not showing its seriousness with the issue. It has made the issue so complicated that it seems that their intention is not right.

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