NEW DELHI, Sept 23: Briefing the media about the Jammu & Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020, which was passed by the Lok Sabha yesterday and became a Legislation today after being passed by the Rajya Sabha also, Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh said that a huge anomaly stands corrected by according official recognition to the two regional languages namely, Dogri and Kashmiri, which are spoken by over 73% of the population of Jammu & Kashmir.
Narrating the context and chronology of the Bill, Dr Jitendra Singh recalled that in 1957 the erstwhile State of Jammu & Kashmir, which had its own Constitution, notified Urdu and English as the official languages of the erstwhile State even though the total population speaking the two languages put together was less than 1%. He said, whatever might have been the priorities or considerations at that point and time, with the new constitutional arrangement after 5 August 2019 and Jammu & Kashmir becoming a Union Territory on the midnight of 31st October 2019, there have been continuous endeavors to correct the anomalies of the past and the Bill passed today has also sought to do the same.
Dr Jitendra Singh further elaborated that the most widely spoken language in Jammu & Kashmir is Kashmiri which is spoken by 53.26% population followed by Dogri which is spoken by 20.64% of the population. Combined together, these two languages are spoken by around 73.90% of the population. Therefore, it was a gross injustice not to have included these two languages as the official languages, he added.
Lauding the Union Home Minister Amit Shah for having followed a very scientific and logical method in arriving at this decision, Dr Jitendra Singh said, while including Kashmiri and Dogri, the Home Minister also corrected another aberration by including Hindi which, besides being spoken by a sizeable population, also happens to be the national language. At the same time, the Home Minister was considerate enough not to disturb the earlier arrangement which had Urdu and English and thus, Jammu & Kashmir will now have five official languages.
Based on the census of 2011, Dr Jitendra Singh said, after Kashmiri and Dogri, the most commonly spoken languages in Jammu & Kashmir are Gojri which is the language of 9.32% population followed by Pahadi comprising about 8.03% of the population followed by Punjabi. However, the new Legislation does not, in any way, undermine the importance of these languages and the matter of fact is that their status and official standing remains the same as it was before 5th August 2019, there being no change in that position, he said.
Dr Jitendra Singh further added that the Government is committed for promotion, patronage and growth of all the languages including Punjabi, Gojri and Pahadi which have a rich heritage and legacy. While their status will remain unaltered and same as it was before 5th August 2019, the government will make further endeavours to strengthen the mechanism for growth of these languages.