KARUR: Remember the good old concrete structures on railway platforms — the ones bearing the names of stations? Well, they’re being replaced by iron boards across Tamil Nadu. But in Karur, much more than a board was replaced. The Tamil text reading ‘Mahadanapuram railway station’ gave way to a new word that has a Sanskrit letter.
Earlier spelt as Magathanapuram (in Tamil), the name now includes a non-Tamil letter ‘ha’. As expected, this didn’t go down well with the locals and Tamil enthusiasts. Residents of the area have even threatened to boycott the elections if the change isn’t revoked. “After trying to impose Hindi, the Central government has jumped ahead and started imposing Sanskrit,” alleged Baranidaran, a Tamil activist from Karur.
“Why should the Tamil letter ‘ka’ be replaced by a non-Tamil letter ‘ha’? The rules don’t allow one to just change a station’s name like that.” The small station is in a rural area, and many villagers who use it don’t even know the Sanskrit letter, he explained. “The Centre must stop its gimmicks and change the name back. If not, the people of Mahadanapuram will boycott the upcoming Assembly elections,” he asserted.
The station is controlled by the Salem Division of the Southern Railway. When asked about the change of name, Karur railway senior section engineer (SSE) Sakthivel told TNIE, “The office of the Salem Division gave us the proper spellings in all three languages Tamil, Hindi and English. We painted the board based on what they sent. ‘Mahadanapuram’ was spelt wrongly in Tamil earlier, so we changed it.” When contacted, an official of the Salem Railway Division refused to comment on the matter.