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Protest plea on Bengali mandatory in hills

Bengali mandatory in hill schools
Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung today appealed to all political parties in the hills to come forward and protest against the state government's decision to make the teaching of Bengali mandatory in schools across the state.
Gurung said the forcible imposition of Bengali on the Nepali-speaking people of the hills was an attempt to wipe out the culture of the Gorkhas.
"Language is the foundation of any culture. The state government's decision to teach Bengali as a compulsory subject across the state, including the hills, is an assault on our language and culture. I would like to appeal to all political parties, including the JAP (Jana Andolan Party) and (hill) Trinamul Congress, to come forward under their respective flags to protest the unwarranted imposition of Bengali on us," he told a rally organised to celebrate the victory of the Morcha in the recent polls to Kalimpong municipality.
Last week, state education minister Partha Chatterjee had announced that students of all schools in Bengal would have to learn Bengali as a compulsory subject from Class I to Class X, irrespective of their native language or the boards their institutes are affiliated to.
The Gorkha Janmukti Yuva Morcha held a rally in Darjeeling today to protest the alleged Bengali imposition on the hills.
The march began from the railway station and ended before the district magistrate's office.
Hundreds, including teachers and students, had started the rally, but the police stopped those students in uniform from completing the rally. "Students had come to the protest rally of their own volition. They were not holding our party flags. They were there because they, too, are opposed to the imposition of Bengali," said Prakash Gurung, the president of the Yuva Morcha.
He also threatened to intensify the protest throughout the hills and the Dooars and the Terai if the government didn't have a rethink on the issue.
"If the government feels that Bengali is not being adequately popularised, then it has to find more acceptable ways of making it popular among the masses. Imposing it on the people, especially on another group which is linguistically different, is definitely not the solution," Prakash said.(TT)

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