LS passes J&K Official Language Bill
JAMMU, Sept 22: The Lok Sabha today passed the historic Jammu and Kashmir Official Language Bill, 2020, introducing Hindi, Kashmiri and Dogri as official languages in the Union Territory, apart from the existing Urdu and English.
The Bill also states that the existing institutional mechanisms such as the Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, J&K , would serve for promotion and development of regional languages of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, including Gojari, Pahari and Punjabi.
Introducing the Bill, Minister of State for Home G Krishan Reddy said it was a demand of the people of Jammu and Kashmir that the language they speak should be the official language. He pointed out that 53.26 percent of J&K people speak Kashmiri language and 26.64 percent speak Dogri while the Urdu, which is currently official language of the UT, is spoken only by 0.16 percent population there.
“Still for the last 70 years, Urdu continues to be the official language of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said, adding that 2.36 percent population in the UT speak Hindi.
While Hasnain Masoodi of National Conference opposed the Bill and said that the Central Government does not have the legislative competence to frame a bill in this regard, Union Minister of State in PMO, Dr Jitendra Singh wondered why the NC was opposing the inclusion of Kashmir as an official language.
“You (NC) did Kashmiri centric politics in the name of Kashmiriyat and when Kashmiri is being recognized as official language, you are opposing the Bill,” Jitendra Singh said, adding: “By such opposition, you have exposed yourself before people of Kashmir.”
Dr Jitendra Singh, who represents Udhampur-Doda-Kathua Parliamentary constituency in the Lok Sabha, strongly rebutted the NC MP’s allegation of Constitutional aggression by Central Government on August 5, 2019 when J&K State was stripped off its Special Status and re-orgainzed into two Union Territories.
“Despite being a legal luminary, you said that the Bill passed on August 5 was unconstitutional. We have learnt from legal experts like you that Parliament is supreme. You are actually defying and challenging verdict of Parliament, the supreme institution of the country and both House have passed that Bill,” he said.
“You can fool some people for some time but you can’t fool all the people for all time and the time for fooling all the people all the time has expired now,” the Union Minister added.
Dr Jitendra Singh did not stop here and went on lambasting National Conference for its slogans of autonomy but not empowering people at grass root level. ” You talked of autonomy and self rule but what is true meaning of self rule and autonomy has been narrated by Modi ji by holding Panchayat poll in J&K and establishing Panchayti Raj there,” he said and added: You did not implement Panchayti raj and even when polls were held, you boycotted.”
“If it is not autonomy of grassroot, then whose autonomy is this? Is it autonomy of self, rule of self, rule of family or rule of dynasty?” Dr Jitendra Singh asked and suggested the NC leaders to feel the mood of common people in streets of Srinagar who don’t’ want to keep themselves aloof from the vast opportunities in India under the leadership of Pm Modi.
Earlier, Hasnain Masoodi opined that decision to have five official languages would be impractical and creating confusion only. Also rejecting the Government claim that only 0.16 percent J&K people speak Urdu, he said that Urdu was link language between all regions and communities in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.
“What is the emergency of introducing five official languages when two of them are already there? Why are you creating confusion?” he asked and suggested the Central Government to wait for Supreme Court decision on the petition challenging revocation of Special Status of J&K.
The Bill said: ” For preserving Urdu and English which are used as official languages of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and simultaneously elaborating its ambit by including languages spoken by a majority of the population, it has become necessary to enact a law by Parliament.”
“With effect from such date as the Administrator (Lt Governor) may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint in this behalf, the Kashmiri, Dogri, Urdu, Hindi and English languages shall be official languages to be used for all or any of the official purposes of the Union territory and different dates may be appointed for different areas in the Union territory,” the Bill further added.
The Bill also provides that the English language may continue to be used, for those administrative and legislative purposes, in the Union Territory for which it was being used before the commencement of this act. It also said the business in the legislative assembly of the Union Territory shall be transacted in the official language or languages of the Union Territory.
The Lt Governor, administrator of the Union Territory, has been empowered by the new bill to take necessary steps to promote Gojri, Pahari and Punjabi language.
The bill now would be introduced in the Upper House of the Parliament for consideration and passing after which it will be sent for the President’s assent.
Meanwhile Union Home Minister Amit shah described the passing of J&K Official Language Bill by the Lok Sabha as momentous day for the people of J&K Union Territory.
In a series of tweets, Mr Shah also said that this bill will also strength the existing institutional structure for the promotion and development of regional languages. He also thanked Pm Modi for his commitment towards restoring the culture of Jammu and Kashmir through this bill.
“I also want to assure our sisters and brothers of Jammu and Kashmir that the Modi government will leave no stone unturned to bring back the glory of Jammu and Kashmir,” he tweeted.