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Urdu Conference demands Mamata to declare Urdu as 2nd official language

By Zaidul Haque, TwoCircles.net,

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who came to power with huge support of Muslims nine months back, was on Sunday urged to declare Urdu as Second Official Language of the state. During her election campaign, she had promised the status for Urdu speaking districts but hasn’t yet fulfilled it too.

The demand was made in the presence of hundreds of people who had gathered at the 3rd State Urdu Conference organized called by International Human Rights Protection Association (IHRPA) at Metro Channel ground here in Kolkata. The speakers said that Andhra Pradesh, which has only three Urdu speaking districts, has Urdu as second official language. But in West Bengal where there are more than 10% Urdu speakers, Urdu has not been given the status, not in the long 34 years of Left Front regime, nor has Mamata taken any step forward in her nine months of power.

Shayesta Bano, State President of IHRPA, delivering her speech at3rd State Urdu Conference in Kolkata on 19th February, 2012

Addressing the gathering, State President of IHRPA, Shayesta Bano said, “The fight for Urdu was started during the Left Front government. The Urdu Movement leader Shamim Ahmed had organized `Dharnas’ and rallies throughout the state but their pleas fell on deaf ears of the Left Front.

She also said, the present population of West Bengal consists of 10% Urdu speaking individuals but the new government considers only 13 Municipalities and 3 Blocks as Urdu speaking. It is fact that, Trinamul Congress leader and present Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee had promised that if she came to power in 2011, Urdu will be granted as second official language throughout the state. Even the assembly election manifesto of the party carried the same message. Not only that, just six days after having been sworn in as the Chief Minister, Mamata had announced that Urdu will be given the 2ndofficiallanguage status throughout those areas in West Bengal which will have 10% of Urdu speaking population as she mentioned it in the manifesto also.However, without conducting any survey of Urdu population, on 3rd February she claimed only 13 Municipalities and 3 Blocks are Urdu speaking.

Bano spoke extensively in favour of Urdu where she quoted examples of the other states’ action in favour of Urdu. She said, Andhra Pradesh has only 3 districts of Urdu speakers, yet the language has been recognized as the 2nd Official language in that state. Jharkhand also has 3 districts of Bengali speakers, yet Bengali is the 2nd Official language there. Delhi and Bihar also have given the status to Urdu, so why not in West Bengal, she asked.

Speakers said that Left Front government did not give Urdu second official language status in West Bengal, and so they have gone. Now if the new government led by Mamata did not acknowledge and declare Urdu as the second official language, she will also be removed. Muslims are asking that if Gorkha agreement can be settled in a short time why Mamata Banerjee delaying in declaring Urdu as second official language throughout West Bengal.

Along with Urdu speaking people, a number of Bengali speaking people also participated in the conference to support the demand for Urdu. Most of the Bengali speaking audience came from Muslim dominated districts like Murshidabad and North 24 Parganas.

Eminent persons present at the conference included Prof Dr Maula Bakhsh of Delhi, Kolkata’s eminent Muslim intellectual & Urdu columnist Syed Ali and Mehmood Raza of IHRPA.

(Photographs by Zaidul Haque, TCN)