Fact-check: Does the Railways send SMS updates about ticket status only in Hindi as claimed by Tamil Nadu politicians?

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Indian Railways, IRCTC clarify on 'Hindi imposition' claims by DMK leaders

— Consider reading the article Fact-check: Does the Railways send SMS updates about ticket status only in Hindi as claimed by Tamil Nadu politicians? on OpIndia website —

Bringing back the old anti-Hindi tirade, many political leaders from Tamil Nadu have claimed that Indian Railways is attempting to ‘impose the Hindi language’ on passengers as it is using only Hindi to send message to those booking tickets through its website.

Sharing a screenshot of a message received by some passenger from IRCTC- the portal which handles the online ticketing operations for the Indian railways, Thamizhachi Thangapandian, an elected member of the Lok Sabha for South Chennai, claimed that though the Indian constitution recognises 23 languages as its official language, IRCTC is still imposing Hindi on the train passengers who book tickets through its website vis its ticket booking services.

In her subsequent Tweets, she slammed the government for ‘imposing’ Hindi on the non-Hindi speaking states and requested the Railway Minister to ‘take urgent steps to ensure that non-Hindi speakers are also able to access the IRCTC services’.

Similarly, DMK leader Dayanidhi Maran shared the same screenshot and questioned, “why Hindi was being repeatedly thrust upon the people of Tamil Nadu by the Railway Ministry”?

Dr S Ramadoss, the founder of the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) also in a series of Tweets in Tamil asked why for the last two days, text messages for train ticket bookings in Tamil Nadu have been sent in Hindi. He said that since the Official Language Act, 1976 does not apply to Tamil Nadu, it was reprehensible to send a text message in Hindi. Tagging the Minister of Railways- Piyush Goyal in his Tweet, the Pattali Makkal Katchi leader asserted that all notices relating to the Central Government in Tamil Nadu should be published in Tamil and English only.

Railways clarifies, says language can be chosen as per user’s preference in IRCTC

Soon the Southern Railways took to its official handle to issue clarifications. It issued a notice through which it confirmed that choosing a language is indeed an option in E-ticketing. It said that while booking tickets, under the section titled ‘profile’ in the IRCTC website, the passenger needs to indicate their preferred language.

Speaking on the particular message, the screeshot of which the political leaders used to question the ‘Hindi imposition’ by the Railways, the latter clarified that in the profile of the person on whose name that said ticket was booked, the preferred language was chosen as Hindi. That is why the system generated message was sent in Hindi.

Basically, the Railway conveyed that the option to chose the preferred language completely lies with the passengers. So basically one has to choose the language of preference while registering on IRCTC and the railways itself has nothing to do with it. So if someone chooses Hindi as their preferred language, they will get updates in Hindi and if they choose English then update would be received in English.

While asking for individual details IRCTC does give an “preferred language” option to the passengers

IRCTC replied to Dayanidhi Maran stating that the screenshot of the concerned e-ticket was booked by a passenger who had Hindi as his chosen language in the IRCTC website. It pointed out that the user can get IRCTC notifications in the language of their choice if he/she changes the language preference in settings.

This controversy over the ‘imposition’ of Hindi Language fomented by the opposition to target the Modi government is not new. Tamil politicians peddling the Dravidian separatism agenda have long been painting Hindi as the enemy of regional languages.

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