BHUBANESWAR: Waking up to widespread protest over Jharkhand government's decision to withdraw second language status to Odia from school curriculum, the State government on Wednesday said it will take up the matter with the neighbouring state.
School and Mass Education Minister Sameer Ranjan Dash said that he will talk to his counterpart in Jharkhand to safeguard the interests of Odia people there. Stating that the Odisha government shares a cordial relationship with Jharkhand, the Minister said that he will ensure that Odia students are taught in their mother tongue in the neighbouring state.
Dash said he will request Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to take up the matter with his Jharkhand counterpart if needed.
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in Odisha Assembly Pradipta Naik has sought the intervention of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Chief Ministers of Odisha and Jharkhand on the sensitive and controversial decision of the neighbouring state.
Writing separately to Shah, Patnaik and Hemant Soren, Naik said, "Odia speaking people living in Jharkhand, mainly Saraikela Kharsawan, east Singhbhum and west Singhbhum districts, and few other parts of the state, have been exploited and harassed by the government of Jharkhand since long."
He said about 70 per cent people in these areas speak Odia. During the re-organisation of states in 1956 on a linguistic basis, these areas should have been merged with Odisha.
However, it was not done deliberately as these areas are mineral rich. "Since then, Odia speaking people in these areas are being discriminated against and harassed by the erstwhile Bihar and present Jharkhand state," the letter stated.
In 2011, the Jharkhand government had given second language status to Odia language. However, the same has been decided to be withdrawn. This will adversely affect the Odia population in at least 10 districts of Jharkhand.
"It has come to my notice that different organisations of these areas have been protesting against the decision and have brought the notice of the Governor of Jharkhand. But no action has been taken so far," he added.