On September 3, 2015, ORISSA MATTERS chief Subhas Chandra Pattanayak, as a member of the Ministerial Committee in the matter of implementation of Orissa Official Language Act, 1954, had submitted two draft legislation: one for amendment of the Act and the other, Rules for driving the Act ahead with provisions for punishment to whosoever contravenes the Act. The same was published in the specific website odia.odisha.gov.in. The Chief Minister also had told the Assembly on 14.12.2015 that the government was working upon the amendment.
But sadly, thereafter, he drifted away, as non-Oriya mandarins convinced him that if the suggested Rules are adopted, as a non-Oriya practitioner in administration, he himself may attract punishment.
Then attempts were made to divert attention from the necessary amendment of the Act to various other items from where vested interest members of the Committee may derive benefit.
This necessitated a new movement to force the government to amend the Act. A group of language activists met in the office of Subartta and pledged their support to BHASA ANDOLAN, ORISSA founded by Sri Pattanayak. They assured Sri Pattanayak of their support to the Silent Black-Flag-Campaign, a method of social movement he had formulated decades ago with successful achievement. It was decided to start the campaign on the Oriya new Year’s Day, 13th of April, to espouse Sri Pattanayak’s proposed amendment of the Act and acceptance of his Rules to implement the Act.
The Government was notified with an ultimatum on the 8th that in support of the suggestion for amendment of the Act as submitted by Sri Pattanayak, BHASA ANDOLAN would stage silent black-flag demonstration by four eminent Oriyas every afternoon covering the heart of administration from the Assembly to Raj Bhavan, from 13.4.2016. Significantly, at the main gate of the Assembly stands the sacred statue of Nabakrushna Chowdhury, who had created the Act and in front of the Raj Bhawan stands the sacred statue of Kulagourav Madhusudan Das, because of whom the geographical Orissa has been created.
Every day a new group of four eminent Oriyas took the black-flags.
The government tried to demoralize the agitators by obstructing their principled and peaceful march by engaging the police to obstruct them on the way.
Attempts have even been made to intimidate the Andolan Leadership through hired miscreants and unsocial elements in social media. Even Sri Prashant Pattnaik, editor of the newspaper Sanchaar belonging to minister Damodar Raut who desperately wants to go back to good books of the CM was used to embarrass the Chairman of BHASA ANDOLAN, Subhas Chandra Pattanayak in his editorial column and when that did not click, the said minister also came down upon the Andolan in a public meeting at Cuttack, apparently to please the CM.
When it was clear that BHASA ANDOLAN will continue its historic agitation, the government has promulgated an ordinance bearing Notification number 4752-1-Legis-16/2016 under the caption: THE ODISHA OFFICIAL LANGUAGE (AMENDMENT) ORDINANCE, 2016 – AN ORDINANCE FURTHER TO AMEND THE ODISHA OFFICIAL LANGUAGE ACT, 1954. The same is dated 21.5.2016. It is intriguing that the sixth session of the Assembly has been prorogued on 20.5,2016 to help the government promulgate the Ordinance. If the law was to be amended, why Assembly was prorogued immediately before the promulgation of the Ordinance? Moreover, when the Law department had vetted the official Bill to insert section 4 (as proposed by Subhas Chandra Pattanayak) and approved by the CM in anticipation of the cabinet approval on 20.5.2016, how could the same be changed in the Ordinance? Section 4 in the Ordinance is not the same as was in the draft legislation vetted by the department of Law. Is the Ordinance a ploy to promulgate any ill intention of administration in the style of law? Time may reveal the reality.
However, when the Act is amended to give the government the authority to frame the Rules, and framing of the Rules is possible through subordinate legislation, the same should be immediately done to ensure that whosoever contravenes the Official Language Act, must be punished, as proposed by Sri Pattanayak. Till this happens and the Rules advanced by the founder of the Bhasha Andolan legislated, the Silent-Black-Flag-Campaign shall continue, as per its leadership.