Parliament on Wednesday passed a Bill for inclusion of Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi in the list of official languages in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, in addition to the existing Urdu and English.
The Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020 was passed by Rajya Sabha through voice vote. Lok Sabha had cleared the legislation on Tuesday.
Replying to a debate on the Bill, Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said it was a long-standing demand of the people of Jammu and Kashmir that the language they speak should be included in the list of official languages.
The minister pointed out that around 74 per cent people in the Union Territory spoke Kashmiri and Dogri languages.
He said that according to 2011 census, only 0.16 per cent population in Jammu and Kashmir spoke Urdu, while 2.3 per cent spoke Hindi.
Reddy said the government would also take steps to encourage other local languages like Punjabi, Gurjari and Pahari in the region.
Participating in the debate on the Bill, Naresh Gujral (SAD) termed it “unfortunate” that Punjabi was not included in the Bill and urged the government to reconsider it.
The J&K Constitution included Punjabi and the first Chief Minister of J&K was a Punjabi, he said and added: “It hurts the feeling of those who are settled there. I would urge the government to reconsider because language is the basis of cultural heritage of the community.”
He said 13 lakh Punjabis live in Jammu and Kashmir.
Mir Mohammad Fayaz (PDP) demanded inclusion of Gurjari, Punjabi and Pahari in the Bill, saying that the motto of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas was lacking in the state.
“Include Punjabi, Gurjari and Pahari so that we win the trust of everyone in J&K,” he said.
Ramdas Athawale (RPI) expressed “support to Dogri and Kashmiri languages” and in his poetic style said that a day will come when PoK will come to India.
Mamata Mohanta (BJD) said the bill will facilitate integration of the UT into mainstream. Shamsher Singh Manhas (BJP) spoke in Dogri. Surendra Singh Nagar (BJP) supported the Bill.