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Why Punjabi did not make it to official list of languages of Jammu and Kashmir

Last Updated on September 28, 2020 at 6:07 pm

The Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Act, 2020 has got the assent after which Dogri, Kashmiri, Urdu, Hindi and English have become the official languages of the Union Territory. On 23rd September parliament passed the bill to end Urdu as the only official language of J&K breaking the 131-year-old tradition.

Urdu was recognized as the official language of Jammu and Kashmir for past many years but now Dogri, Kashmiri, Hindi and English will also be recognized as the official languages in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

These languages will not be used as official languages but will also be taught in schools. All these languages have been passed in both the houses and now only the President of India has to sign the bill. 

However there is resentment among the Sikh community for not including Punjabi as the official language of J&K. The Sikh community in J&K has been displeased over the exclusion of Punjabi as the official language and calling it discrimination against the minority living in the UT.

TS Wazir, chairman of the J&K Gurdwara Parbandhak Board said that till 1981 Punjabi was one of the compulsory language in J&K but now the language has been ignored. The community also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi uses a slogan of ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ but “in reality the government is neglecting the minorities”

As per official records, 71 percent people in J&K speak Dogri and Kashmiri while 2.4 percent speak Hindi. On the other hand only 1.75 percent people speak Punjabi in the UT.

The All-Party Sikh Coordination Committee (APSCC) has slammed the government over the bill and making discrimination against the community. TS Wazir, while addressing Sikh protestors said, the central government is neglecting the Sikh community. He said that the Punjabi language was one of the crucial languages in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and was well recognized in the constitution of J&K.

He also demanded the infusion of Punjabi language as the official language in J&K at the earliest.

As per the records of 1941 the major languages which were used in J&K were Dogri, Kashmiri, and Punjabi. The Punjabi language has its roots in J&K from the past. The exclusion of Punjabi language is a direct attack on the identity and culture of the Sikh community, alleged community leaders.

Apart from Punjabi, many other languages like Gojri and Pahari has also not been included in the bill after which people from these communities have also expressed displeasure. People from Sikh and other communities have demanded that every native language should have been made as an official in the UT of &K.

The Gojri, Pahari, and Punjabi-speaking people comprise 1/3rd of the population in J&K but still. Apart from Sikh people, Punjabi is also a mother tongue of many other people living in RS Pura, Samba, Bishnah areas of Jammu.