Press Trust of india

Gujjar leader pitches for Pahari, Gojri, Punjabi as J&K official languages

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Jammu: A Gujjar leader on Monday sought urgent attention of the Centre and the Opposition, demanding that necessary amendments be made in a bill to include Pahari, Gojri and Punjabi as official languages of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Union cabinet had approved the Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill on September 2, making Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi, apart from the existing Urdu and English, as official languages in the Union territory.

In a statement, Gujjar leader Ishfaq-ur-Rehman Poswal, who was the former head of the state unit of the Akhil Bharatiya Gujjar Mahasabha, said some other languages of the marginalised sections be included in the draft bill before it was brought in the Parliament.

Poswal, who also contested the 2014 assembly election as a BJP candidate, praised the decision to include the five languages, but said it “doesn’t meet the aspirations of the entire population of Jammu and Kashmir”.

Poswal has also written a letter to both the Centre and the opposition parties, including the Congress, demanding that necessary amendments be made in the bill and languages like Pahari, Gojri and Punjabi should also be made as official languages.

This, he said, “will meet aspirations of the marginalised sections of the erstwhile state. Languages like Paharii, Gojri and Punjabi are spoken by around 45 per cent of the population of J&K”.

Kashmiri, Dogri, Hindi, Urdu and English, which have been made as official languages, are spoken by around 55 per cent of the population of the Union territory, according to Poswal.

“This is a welcome initiative by the BJP-led central government, but what about the rest 45 per cent of the population?” Poswal asked, adding that people had been agitating on roads for the past fortnight demanding the inclusion of Paharii, Gojri, Punjabi and others as official languages.

Poswal said the Centre must look into the matter to win the hearts and minds of the people, especially from the marginalised sections. He also appealed to the Opposition to force the Union government in the monsoon session to make necessary amendments.



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