BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra on Monday tweeted a picture showing the name of Dehradun written in Sanskrit – “Dehradunam” – along with Hindi and English, and replacing Urdu, purportedly on a railway station signboard in the city. Railways officials said this was not the case on ground.
Northern Railways officials in Delhi said that there is no Sanskrit name on the signboards in Dehradun station right now and the name continues to be displayed on various boards as it did earlier: in English, Hindi and Urdu. Railways Ministry officials claimed it was a “confusion” created on social media.
“There was yard remodeling work going on in Dehradun. So construction people got some signboards made in which the name was written in Sanskrit as well by mistake. But when the station was commissioned following the work, this was rectified and the name was written in English, Hindi and Urdu,” a zonal railway official said.
The issue gained prominence on Monday morning when BJP national vice-president Vinay Sahasrabuddhe first retweeted two images posted by a handle named ‘Eagle Eye’. While one picture purportedly showed an old station signboard of Dehradun in which the name was written in Hindi, English and Urdu, another picture, supposedly of a new signboard, showed Urdu replaced by Sanskrit.
Sahasrabuddhe wrote in the tweet: “Thanks for sharing with us this important initiative of @RailMinIndia”.
Soon, Patra tweeted the pictures, with a single-word comment: “SANSKRIT”. By late night, it had got more than 95,000 ‘likes’ and over 18,000 retweets and comments.
The Northern Railways spokesperson was not available for a comment.
— Sambit Patra (@sambitswaraj) July 13, 2020
Sources said Northern Railways had earlier tried to get the Sanskrit name “Dehradunam” inscribed on the station board by replacing the Urdu script following a request from an Uttarakhand BJP MLA in January 2019 to the Railways Ministry to write names of railway stations in the state in Sanskrit along with English and Hindi. Sanskrit is the official second language of Uttarakhand.
Northern Railways sent a letter to the District Magistrate of Dehradun on September 17 last year to officially obtain Sanskrit names of stations in Dehradun district from the state government. But there was no reply.
It sent a reminder again on February 13 this year. “Some organisations in the state have represented on February 12, 2020, that the Sanskrit name may be written urgently,” the reminder letter stated.
Sources told The Indian Express that the signboard in the picture was part of this exercise last year when Urdu was replaced by Sanskrit, but then some local organisations objected to it and the plan did not go ahead.
As per original plan, all stations in Uttarakhand were to undergo this change but officials said following the Dehradun experience, it is now in the back burner.
The Rajbhasha wing of the Railways had initiated the whole exercise last year in which the Moradabad division of Northern Railways was supposed to get approval of correct names and spellings in Sanskrit from the state government, sources said. After some local organisations objected to omitting Urdu altogether from the signboard, and the local administration did not respond to the Railways’ request, the exercise was not replicated.
As per Railways works manual, station names are to be written in English, Hindi and the local official language. Railways generally does not get involved in the business of names of its stations. It officially maintains that anything to do with the name of a station is a matter of the state concerned.
States generally send representation to the Ministry of Home Affairs if they want a name changed.
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