Press Trust of india

Huge anomaly corrected: Jitendra Singh on passage of Languages Bill

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New Delhi: Hailing the passage of the Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill in Parliament, Union Minister Jitendra Singh on Wednesday said a huge anomaly stands corrected with official recognition being accorded to Kashmiri and Dogri.

He said it was a “gross injustice” to not have included these two languages, which are spoken by over 73 percent of Jammu and Kashmir’s population, in its list of official languages.

The Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020 was passed by Rajya Sabha through voice vote on Wednesday. Lok Sabha had cleared the legislation on Tuesday.

Briefing the media on the bill, Singh recalled that the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir notified Urdu and English as its official languages in 1957 even though they were spoken by less than one percent of the total population.

With the new constitutional arrangement after August 05, 2019 and Jammu and Kashmir becoming a union territory on the midnight of October 31, 2019, “there have been continuous endeavours to correct the anomalies of the past,” the Minister of State for Personnel claimed.

The bill passed on Wednesday also sought to do the same, he added.

Singh said a huge anomaly stands corrected with official recognition being accorded to regional languages of Dogri and Kashmiri.

Kashmiri is the most widely spoken language in the union territory. It is spoken by 53.26 percent of the population, while Dogri is spoken by 20.64 percent. Together, these two languages are spoken by around 73.90 percent of the population, he said.

“Therefore, it was a gross injustice not to have included these two languages as the official languages,” he said.

Singh lauded Union Home Minister Amit Shah for arriving at the decision to include these languages in the official list.

He said the home minister has also corrected another aberration by including Hindi in the list of Jammu and Kashmir’s official languages.

“At the same time, the home minister was considerate enough not to disturb the earlier arrangement, which included Urdu and English. Thus, Jammu and Kashmir will now have five official languages,” he added.

According to the 2011 Census, Singh said, the most commonly spoken languages in Jammu and Kashmir after Kashmiri and Dogri are Gojri, Pahari and Punjabi.

Gojri and Pahari are spoken by 9.32 percent and 8.03 percent of the population, respectively, he said.

“However, the new legislation does not, in any way, undermine the importance of these languages and the matter of the fact is that their status and official standing remains the same as it was before 5th August 2019,” he said.

Singh said the government is committed to the promotion, patronage and growth of all languages, including Punjabi, Gojri and Pahari, 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,” he said.

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