Karnataka is fiercely protective about its language –Kannada. J Daniel learnt it the hard way. The 36-year-old software engineer was chased and allegedly beaten up by a mob of 50 Karnataka Rakshana Vedhike (KRV) activists - because he spoke in English.

 

Daniel was trying to sort out an altercation between while trying to broker peace between the mob and an event organiser who was playing non-Kannada music at Swami Vivekananda Road metro station last Saturday at around 9 pm.

 

According to a report in Bangalore Mirror when Daniel intervened, one of the activists, Manjunath, allegedly beat him on his back and head for speaking English. In retaliation, the techie is alleged to have beaten up Manjunath. The situation then escalated from there on as the mob was almost close to stripping him in public. He sustained injuries and was bleeding from the nose.

 

A passing patrol van rescued the techie and Manjunath and the others who were part of the mob were taken to the station for investigation. Bangalore Mirror, spoke to Daniel and he said: "I was shocked after I was beaten for talking in English. It is my wish! I can talk in any language I want to. Nobody has the right to attack others for not speaking in a language which they do not understand. Angry on receiving the blows, even I retaliated and beat up the activist. He then called his group and about 50 of them started beating me up. I do not want to add fuel to the incident; all I wanted was to stop them from arguing with the organisers.” He also revealed he had been living in Bengaluru for the past 10 years.

 

Manjunath meanwhile, has also filed a case against Daniel. The police have booked a case against Daniel under IPC section 324 which pertains to voluntarily causing hurt by using dangerous weapons and section 504 which pertains causing insult with intent to provoke breach of peace. A case of wrongful restraint (IPC 341) and voluntarily causing hurt (IPC 323) has been registered against Manjunath and the mob.

 

There are section of people in Karnataka who largely believe that one must know Kannada if one has been staying here for a long time. However, they are what you may call radicals.

 

 A lot of Kannadigas do not hold this view and are equally tolerant of all languages and religions. This incident again lands us in the great language debate.

 

While learning a new language is a good skill, learning a regional language can help to make your stay in the state easier as it helps in easier communication between the locals. Some (few) may take offence to a non-Kannada speaking person and sometimes the situation turns ugly like this one. Such incidences force us to question our regional and linguistic divide, something which we Indians are usually proud of, asserting ourselves as a country which is united despite so many differences.

 

Also read: 6 reasons why you should learn a new language​