The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Governor chased in Sanskrit-vs-English backlash

Lucknow, Feb. 9: The Uttar Pradesh governor had to run for cover today as stones and paper missiles landed on the dais after he told students of a Sanskrit university they should also learn English.

“Exclusive Sanskrit education is beneficial only for those who want to become priests or Sanskrit teachers,” T.V. Rajeswar told the convocation of Sampoornand Sanskrit University in Varanasi.

Near the close of his 30-minute speech, in which he described Sanskrit as the “pride of India”, the governor departed from the text to remind students they also need to know English.

“If you want to succeed professionally, earn Rs 2-3 lakh a month or go abroad... you must be proficient in English. If you only learn Sanskrit, you will remain cut off from the rest of the world and continue to live in the bullock-cart age.”

This was the trigger: about 50-odd students sprang to their feet shouting “Governor, go back”. Soon, paper and cloth missiles and stones were being thrown at him. Policemen rushed to surround Rajeswar, who was promising students “efforts will be made to introduce English as a compulsory subject” in their curriculum.

His voice couldn’t be heard in the din and as chairs began to be hurled, the securitymen decided it was time for the governor to beat a retreat. The speech was taken as read, the national anthem was played, and the governor rushed out into his car.

The students chased his convoy and pelted it with stones. A mild lathicharge reined them in, Varanasi special superintendent of police Sujit Pandey said. “The governor was making a balanced statement. I don’t know what provoked the violence.” Two students have been picked up for questioning. Five were injured in the lathicharge.

The students have demanded an apology from Rajeswar and his resignation.

Apology for what, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee might ask. “Shudhu Bangla shikhle cholbe na (Just Bengali won’t do),” the chief minister has often been heard saying as he hurries to put Bengal on the development map.

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