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Urdu gets status of second language

Calcutta, Feb. 3: The government today approved a proposal for the use of Urdu as second language in government offices and educational institutions in areas where more than 10 per cent of the population speak the language.

Second-language status for Urdu in such areas was part of Mamata Banerjee’s manifesto for the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls.

The areas under the Calcutta Municipal Corporation and the municipalities in Islampur in North Dinajpur, Garulia, Kamarhati, Bhatpara and Titagarh in North 24-Parganas and Chapdani, Bansberia, Rishra and Bhadreshwar in Hooghly have been identified as the places where Urdu will be used as second language. Two blocks in North Dinajpur, Goalpokhor I and II, have also been selected.

“According to the 2001 Census, more than 10 per cent of the population in these areas speak Urdu. During today’s cabinet meeting, the chief minister added the areas under the Asansol Municipal Corporation and the municipalities of Bally (Howrah), Kulti and Jamuria (in Burdwan) to the list,” industries minister Partha Chatterjee said.

More areas will be added to the list after the 2012 Census report is released. “There are many borderline areas in the 2001 Census. In those places, the Urdu-speaking population must have exceeded 10 per cent in the past decade. Such areas will be gradually included,” said S. Nurul Haq, the minority affairs secretary.

The state will set up Urdu-medium primary schools in the selected areas and also introduce Urdu sections in secondary schools and colleges. Replies to official letters in Urdu will be in the same language. Urdu can be used in all official documents. Officials with expertise in the language will be appointed in the blocks and municipalities where the decision will be implemented.