In a state which saw fierce anti-Hindi stir in the 1960s, the Madurai district administration has been forced to drop its latest move to have signboards in Hindi along with Tamil and English after it triggered protests.
The signboards put up in the hope of helping hundreds of tourists visiting the temple city were being removed in deference to the wishes of the people, collector Anshul Mishra said after the move drew the ire of several local outfits.
"Respecting sentiments of our Tamil brothers and sisters, I am ready to take back my words regarding issue of trilingual boards and use of Hindi in these boards....I am here to serve people of Tamil Nadu and not to promote my mother tongue," Mishra, who is from the North, said on social networking site Facebook.
Officials said the installation of such signboards has been interpreted by some groups like Tamil Desa Pothu Udamai Katchi, which had demonstrated over the issue this month, as promoting Hindi by Mishra.
However, tour organisers and people serving the industry have supported the Collector's move and denounced demands by such elements, which they said would not help in development of Tamil Nadu or its people.
"The more languages a person knows, the more advantageous a position will he be in...be it getting a job...or being a guide in this city," Venugopal, a tour organiser, said.
An autorickshaw driver said signboards in Hindi would help end pilgrims being cheated. Not many knew the famous Meenakshi temple was just a stone's throw from the railway station, for which some auto drivers charged Rs 150, he said.
The Corporation's plan to promote tourism by using trilingual boards saw opposition from the groups, who recently staged a demonstration in the city, demanding their removal.
They also started a campaign on Facebook, arguing there was no need for signboards in Hindi when Tamil signboards were not seen anywhere outside the state for the benefit of tourists.
The DMK had led a strident anti-Hindi movement in 1965 which saw a series of agitations by students and others on the official status of Hindi in the state, ultimately proving to be a major watershed in Tamil Nadu politics. The 1967 assembly polls saw the party wrest power from the Congress, which has thus far remained out of the seat of power.