Language row: Bhojpuri, Magahi rolled back from Bokaro, Dhanbad districts

Days after massive protest emerged in parts of Jharkhand against the inclusion of Bhojpuri and Magahi in the Jharkhand Staff Selection Commission (JSSC) examinations in district level appointments of Bokaro and Dhanbad district, the state government Friday night issued a notification rolling back its previous notification. The current notification removed Bhojpuri and Magahi from regional languages list from Bokaro and Dhanbad districts.

Thousands had protested in Bokaro and Dhanbad spreading to Giridih and Ranchi. The genesis of the controversy started after the state government issued a notification on December 23 to include Magahi, and Bhojpuri as regional languages in Dhanbad, Bokaro districts of Jharkhand pertaining to the selection of matric and intermediate pass candidates through examinations against vacancies.

In many rallies, the protesters have criticised CM Hemant Soren for his silence over the issue.

Friday’s notification signed by Principal Secretary, Jharkhand Personnel, Administrative Reforms, and Rajbhasha Department stated that after consideration on December 24th notification, the government has identified district wise regional languages. In the fresh notification the government has kept ‘Nagpuri, Urdu, Khortha,Kurmali and Bangla’ as regional languages and have omitted Bhojpuri and Magahi from the list.

The earlier notification had triggered a resentment in a section of people especially in Bokaro and Dhanbad, who saw the inclusion of Bhojpuri and Magahi as an “infringement” on the rights of Adivasis and Moolvasis. The protesters had argued that the “low population” of Magahi and Bhojpuri speakers in these two districts did not “warrant” the inclusion of these languages in the job selection process.
Anecdotal evidence suggests there is a relatively small number of Magahi- and Bhojpuri-speaking people in these districts; however, no precise data are available. The protests had also brought back the domicile issue.

A source in the government said: “The entire issue was a bureaucratic mess up which led to massive protests. It has been rectified.”

At the centre of the protests lied Jharkhandi Bhasha Sangharsha Samiti–an organisation of Moolvasis and Adivasis which claims to be apolitical–which have addressed more than 50 gatherings with the last few days gaining large crowds. One of the members, Tirth Nath Akash, said that the core idea of the protests is to pressure the current government largely on the inclusion of the languages in two districts and also on the state’s domicile policy. Akash had said that they were not opposing the inclusion of the same in Latehar, Garhwa and Palamu areas because there is a substantial population speaking these languages.

The current notification has kept Bhojpuri, Magahi and Angika in other districts.

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