Hindi uproar continues in Nepal

July 25th, 2008 - 2:27 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, July 25 (IANS) Protests continued to smoulder in Nepal for the third day over newly elected Vice-President Parmanand Jha Wednesday taking his oath of office and secrecy in Hindi, instead of Nepal’s national language Nepali or his own mother tongue Maithili, that is spoken by the majority of people in the republic’s Terai plains. Eight student organisations affiliated to Nepal’s major parties Friday stepped up protests in the capital, blocking main roads in Kathmandu and its adjoining Lalitpur city by burning tyres and asking the official to apologise or resign.

Protests were also reported Friday from remote Dhangadi and Kailali districts in farwest Nepal.

Some minor parties and nationalistic organisations joined in the protests.

Keshav Prasad Bhattarai, former chief of Nepal Teachers’ Association, also criticised Jha for wearing the dhoti and kurta, identified as Indian dress, instead Nepal’s national dress, the daura suruwal and cap.

“The government should make it mandatory for all high-ranking officials to wear the national dress at official programmes,” Bhattarai said.

The common man also looked askance at Jha’s choice of language. Letters began pouring in at Nepal’s main newspaper offices criticising the former judge for using a language that is regarded as the national language of neighbour India and alien to Nepal.

“How can a vice-president who neglects the Nepali language and takes his oath in Hindi protect the sovereignty and integrity of his country?” wrote a reader from Sunsari district in the Terai plains in Nepal’s leading Kantipur daily.

“If you want to talk about uplifting Madhes, why speak in Hindi instead of Maithili, Bhojpuri or Awadhi (that are commonly spoken in the Terai)?” wrote another reader from Birgunj town on the Indo-Nepal border.

The Maoists, who lost the prestigious presidential election after they refused to accept Terai party Madhesi Janadhikar Forum’s candidate Jha as vice-president, continued flaying the incident.

In its editorial Friday, the Maoist daily Janadisha said Nepal got rid of its feudal royal family not in order to become the lackey of “Indian expansionism”.

“At a time Indian expansionists’ directly interference in Nepal’s politics has created concern and outrage, the vice-president has stoked that concern and anger by taking his oath in Hindi,” it said. “Imperialist expansionist dictators first try to establish their superiority by propagating their language and culture.”

There was no immediate reaction from the government or the vice-president’s office.

Two months ago, there had been a similar furore when the legislators from the Terai parties also took their oath in the constituent assembly in Hindi.

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