Urdu’s 131-year Reign in Kashmir Ends

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Kashmiri, Dogri, Hindi Added As Official Languages In J&K

NEW DELHI: In a significant move the Union cabinet on Wednesday announced that Jammu and Kashmir will now have five official languages, ending Urdu’s 131-year reign as the only official language of the ethnically diverse and politically fraught region.

As of now, the official language of Jammu and Kashmir is Urdu and Kashmiri is recognised as a regional language.

Announcing the decision at a news briefing, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said the Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020 will be introduced in Parliament in the upcoming Monsoon Session.

“Union Cabinet has approved the introduction in Parliament the Jammu & Kashmir Official Languages Bill 2020 in which 5 languages Urdu, Kashmiri, Dogri, Hindi & English will be official languages,” Union Minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters.

This, he said, has been done based on public demand. Javadekar didn’t share more details about the bill.

The Bill received the Cabinet nod on Wednesday at a meeting presided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The bill is expected to be tabled in Parliament during the coming session. The Monsoon session of Parliament is slated to begin from September 14.

Union Minister Jitendra Singh said the government has accepted the long pending demand of the region for the inclusion of Dogri, Hindi and Kashmiri as officials languages in J-K.

“It is not only a fulfilment of a long-pending public demand of the region but also in keeping with the spirit of equality which was ushered in after August 5 last year,” he told reporters.

On August 5 last year New Delhi scrapped the semi-autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir and divided it into two union territories. Urdu in India is largely associated with Muslims and the Hindu rightwing has for long been pushing Hindi as a national language, a move resisted by several states.

In the undivided Jammu and Kashmir state, various ethnicities spoke Kashmiri, Pahari, Gojri, Ladakhi, Dogri, Balti and Punjabi as their mother tongues. Urdu and Hindi had become a means for inter-community communication. In 1889, Maharaja Pratap Singh, the third ruler of the Hindu Dogra dynasty, replaced Persian with Urdu as the court language.

The latest decision is seen here by many as part of policy aimed at dismantling everything that can be associated with the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, like separate flag and constitution.

New official languages will ensure ease of governance: Jitendra

Union Minister Jitendra Singh Wednesday said the Cabinet”s approval to a bill that adds Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi as official languages in Jammu and Kashmir will end the grievances of discrimination on the basis of language.

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the bill under which Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi, apart from the existing Urdu and English, will be the official languages in Jammu and Kashmir.

It was an anomaly that the three languages — Dogri, Hindi and Kashmiri — which are spoken by nearly 70 per cent of the population of Jammu and Kashmir were not approved for use in official business.

“The Cabinet decision today will not only bring ease of governance, but also ease of citizen participation in governance in the newly created Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir,” the Minister of State for Personnel said.

He said this will remove the feeling of alienation among different communities and address the grievances of discrimination on the basis of language.

The minister said the government has accepted the long-pending demand of the region for the inclusion of Dogri, Hindi and Kashmiri as officials languages in J-K.

“It is not only a fulfilment of a long-pending public demand of the region but also in keeping with the spirit of equality which was ushered in after August 5 last year (when provisions of Article 370 were repealed),” said Singh, who is also the Lok Sabha member from J-K”s Udhampur constituency.

Addressing a press briefing, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said the Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020 will be introduced in the upcoming Monsoon Session of Parliament. (With inputs from wire agencies)

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