No, Sanskrit Hasn’t Replaced Urdu on Dehradun Railway Signboard

·6-min read

A photo of Dehradun Railway Station’s board is doing the rounds on social media with the claim that the Urdu version of the name has been replaced by Sanskrit.

The photo was shared by Sambit Patra on Twitter with this claim. However, we found that while the name had briefly been replaced on the station signboard at Dehradun, it soon reverted to the Urdu version.

CLAIM

An archived version of this post can be seen <a href="http://archive.is/tWhEk" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here</a>.
An archived version of this post can be seen here.

Sambit Patra shared these two photos on Twitter on 13 July morning, with the caption “Sanskrit”. A look at the photos shows that the first board has Dehradun written in English, Hindi and Urdu, while the second has English, Hindi and Sanskrit. Patra seemed to imply in his post that Urdu was being replaced by Sanskrit.

Patra’s tweet went viral and at the time this story was written, had over 16k retweets and over 104k likes.

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Prior to Patra, we found that BJP National Vice President Dr Vinay Sahasrabuddhe had retweeted a post on Twitter commending the Railways Ministry for apparently deciding to replace Urdu names of stations with Sanskrit names across Uttarakhand.

An archived version of this post can be seen <a href="http://archive.is/fQA5C" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here</a>.
An archived version of this post can be seen here.

Below is the full post that the BJP leader had retweeted.

Archived <a href="http://archive.is/VRMBI" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here</a>.
Archived here.

We also found the two photos being shared on Facebook with the caption that the BJP government hates Urdu, and therefore replaced the existing signboard with Urdu text.

Archived <a href="http://archive.is/omCGR" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here</a>.
Archived here.

WHAT’S THE TRUTH?

On looking for news reports about the change in the station name board at Dehradun, we came across several news reports by PTI and IANS from January 2020, which said that Railway officials had taken a decision to replace Urdu names with Sanskrit on signboards at all railway station platforms across Uttarakhand. According to the reports, the decision had been taken in accordance with rules set down in the Railway manual.

However, we also found a clarification issued by the Twitter handle of the Divisional Railway Manger, Moradabad about the changing of names, in response to these news articles. According to the clarification by the Chief Public Relations Officer of Northern Railways, Deepak Sharma, Indian Railways had not replaced Urdu names from any station and had no plan to do so either.

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URDU TEMPORARILY REPLACED WITH SANSKRIT

We came across a Hindustan Times article dated 15 February, which spoke about the controversy that had arisen after the brief replacement of the name happened.

The article said that when the Dehradun railway station re-opened after three months, the station signboard bore the name in English, Hindi and Sanskrit, instead of the original Urdu. The article also carried a photo of the said board.

Speaking to Hindustan Times, Rekha Sharma, senior divisional commercial manager Moradabad railway division, said that the board with the Sanskrit name had been put up by the construction agency which was renovating the station. She added that it was removed soon after and the original Urdu text was retained. Moradabad railway division manages all stations falling under the Garwhal region.

However, she also said that while no notification had come from the railway headquarters for writing of the names in Sanskrit, they have started work for getting the Sanskrit names right.

According to an article by The Indian Express, the issue had begun after an Uttarakhand BJP MLA said that all station names in the state should have the names in English, Hindi and Sanskrit, since the latter is the second official language of the state. The Indian Express further quoted sources to say that the name change on the board was part of this effort, but negative reactions on the ground to the change caused them to revert to the Urdu name and the exercise was halted.

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HOW ARE LANGUAGES ON RAILWAY NAME BOARDS DECIDED?

The languages to be displayed on the station name board at railway stations is dictated by a set of rules and regulations called the Indian Railways Works Manual. According to this document, station names should be exhibited in the regional language of the state, Hindi and English. The exception to this rule is Tamil Nadu, where the use of Hindi is to be restricted to important stations and pilgrim centres as determined by the Commercial Department. But first, the names and their spellings in different languages has to be approved by the state government.

The manual further states that in states where the regional language is Hindi, the name boards will be in two languages, Hindi and English, except for the provision of Urdu language in stations in nearly 100 districts. For these stations, name boards have to also be displayed in Urdu.

Urdu is the second official language of Uttar Pradesh, which Uttarakhand was once a part of, which is why Dehradun was also written in Urdu on the station name board.

However, in 2010, Sanskrit was made the second official language of Uttarakhand under then Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal, who said that he intended to promote Sanskrit in the state. This explains the demand for Dehradun to be written in Sanskrit on the station name board.

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However, as we have stated earlier, while Sanskrit was briefly displayed on the name board in February 2020, it was quickly returned to the original Urdu, according to reports.

We also found a report by Aaj Tak from 14 February, which carried a photo showing a man pasting a sign in Urdu over the Sanskrit version of Dehradun on the station name board.

The report also carried a video from the Dehradun railway station platform by the reporter, which shows the board with the Sanskrit name replaced by the original Urdu.

Therefore, it is clear that while the Urdu name was replaced on the Dehradun station signboard for a brief period, it was also returned to the original Urdu name. Further, the Railways is not planning to replace Urdu names at all, as we have shown above. Patra did not add this context to his tweet, lending it the misleading insinuation that Urdu names are being replaced with Sanskrit on railway station boards.

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