Northeast needs a lot of things: Hindi is not one of them
TWIPRA Students Federation protest

Agartala: Tripura University Vice-Chancellor Ganga Prasad Prasian’s recent remarks on a suitable script for languages without a script has once again ignited the debate over the script of the Kokborok language.

Despite being an old language, Kokborok, the most widely-spoken indigenous language, has not been included in the 8th schedule of the Constitution of India which deals with the official languages of the Indian republic. Several tribal bodies and political parties have been demanding Kokborok’s official recognition and approval of the Roman script to give the language a written script. Even regional parties TIPRA Motha and IPFT share the common goal of the use of Roman script and the inclusion in the Eighth schedule.

According to media reports, the VC of Tripura University Ganga Prasad Prasian vouched for Devanagari script for languages that do not have a written form. The statement was made during a two-day “Purvottar Gyanotsav” hosted on the Tripura University campus.

Upset by his remarks, the Kokborok Sahitya Sabha (KBSS), a body of Kokborok writers, authors and poets issued a strong statement condemning his views.

“We are wonderstruck with the statement made by Prof. Prasain, how a person occupying an important position in the stature of a Vice-Chancellor could make such irresponsible remarks. It was beyond our expectation and we vehemently oppose and strongly condemn it,” the statement reads.
The body also suggested the Vice Chancellor focus on his job rather than interfering in issues that are already in a state of impasse.

“We are also aware that Prof. Prasain hails from Manipur and is very much well versed with the history, political, socio-culture and economic condition of the people of North East India. In fact, North East India is a home to numerous tribes also known to Prof. Prasain. There are numerous languages in North East India and many of those languages have not been transcribed due to lack of script. However, such unwritten languages have a rich folk or oral tradition. Those languages which are unwritten or not able to settle on script issues, the people belonging to that particular community are struggling to resolve their own problems. Any interference or statements made by an outsider whoever it may be will create more problems than resolve. The communities whose languages have not been transcribed or written are themselves capable of deciding regarding their own language and script. Thus, the sweeping and irresponsible remark of Prof. Prasain, Hon’ble Vice-Chancellor is neither desirable nor expected. We would earnestly request the Hon’ble Vice-Chancellor not to entangle on the issue of script but rather work for the overall development of Kokborok and other indigenous languages of Tripura”, the statement undersigned by senior author and President of KBSS Bikash Roy Debbarma and General Secretary Ramesh Debbarma reads.

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The TWIPRA Students Federation (TSF) also protested in front of the state assembly, seeking the state government’s intervention on the Roman script issue. The TSF leaders have alleged that for the last 40 years, the language of the state’s indigenous people had been ignored and neglected.

Speaking to media persons, TSF President Bishwa Kumar Debbarma said, “For the last 40 years, our demand has been ignored. We want a solution. Today is the first day of the state assembly, which is why we have gathered here. We want this matter to be raised and thoroughly discussed in the assembly. If nothing happens, we shall go for greater movement.” 

EastMojo tried to contact VC Ganga Prasad Prasain but he refused to make any comment on the issue. At the same time he maintained that his advise was to adopt Indian scripts instead of Roman.

Also Read | BJP’s Biswabandhu elected Tripura speaker; Tipra Motha abstains from voting

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