Way back the inclusion of Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi as new official languages in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir had received strong criticism from several quarters, including members of minority communities, activists and political leaders. On September 2, the Union Cabinet approved the Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020, under which Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi were added as three new official languages in the UT, taking the total number of official languages to five, including the already existing English and Urdu.
The bill was said to have received the Cabinet’s nod at a meeting presided by PM Narendra Modi and was set to be introduced in the upcoming Monsoon Session of Parliament. While the decision was welcomed by the Dogras and Kashmiris in Jammu who thanked the central government for “fulfilling their long-pending demand”, the minority Sikh community have protested against the bill.
On 23rd Sep., Wednesday the Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill 2020 was passed by a voice vote in the Rajya Sabha. The Bill gives official language status to Kashmiri, Dogri, Hindi, English, and Urdu in the Union Territory.
“The Bill fulfils the decades-long wishes of the people of the region. It is a big step which will give official language status to Kashmiri, Dogri, Hindi, English, and Urdu,” said Minister of State (MoS) Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy said speaking during the discussions.
“From 1954 there were two official languages in Jammu and Kashmir, Urdu and English, which were used for official work. In the 2011 Census, the number of Urdu speakers in the UT was a little above 19 thousand which is 0.16 per cent of the population,” he added.
The MoS Home Affairs further said that in the last seven decades the number of official language speakers was small while close to 74 per cent population spoke in Kashmiri or Dogri.
“While 53.26 per cent speak Kashmiri, Dogri is spoken by 20.64 per cent people. It is a long-standing demand of the people to give official language status to these languages, but those who ruled for 70 years there did not do so,” Reddy said.
As per the Census, 2.30 per cent of the population speaks Hindi in the UT, the MoS said.
Union Minister and RPI-A leader Ramdas Athawale supported the bill in his unique style by saying, “Hume acchi lagti hai Dogri aur Kashmiri bhasha, Pak vyapt Kashmir Bharat me aaega ye hai humein aasha. Pakistan ka hum baja denge tasha, kyunki humein acchi lagti hai Dogri, Kashmiri bhasha.”
The Rajya Sabha, earlier today passed three important bills related to labour, the Bilateral Netting of Qualified Financial Contracts Bill, 2020, and the FCRA Amendment Bill by voice votes following discussions.
While the Bilateral Netting of Qualified Financial Contracts Bill, was moved by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the FCRA amendment Bill was moved for passing by Minister of State (MoS), Home Affairs, Nityanand Rai in the House.
Earlier, the Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020 with voice vote.
The central government has said that while the government is not against any regional language, the Bill gives importance to those 70 per cent people who speak Kashmiri and Dogri in the UT.
Explaining the bill, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has said in a tweet that it was a momentous day for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. “With this historic Bill…Long-awaited dream of the people of J&K comes true! Kahmiri, Dogri, Urdu, Hindi and English will now be the official languages of J&K.”
Under the Bill, Shah said that special efforts will be made for the development of major regional languages like Gojri, Pahari and Punjabi.
Along with this, the Bill will also strengthen the existing institutional structure for the promotion and development of regional languages.
Lauding the efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his commitment towards restoring the culture of Jammu and Kashmir through this Bill, Shah said that he wants to assure his sisters and brothers in Jammu and Kashmir that the Modi government will leave no stone unturned to bring back the glory of the erstwhile state.