Include Punjabi In J&K Official Languages Bill 2020: INTACH

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The exclusion of Punjabi language from the list of official languages of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) will cause a setback to the cultural heritage of Punjab and would be injustice to the significant Punjabi speaking population in the region.

This was opined by Punjab state convener and member governing council, INTACH, and professor of applied linguistics, Dr Sukhdev Singh.

He appealed Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the decision. “The Punjabi language has been a major language in the region comprising present Indian Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu Kashmir and the present Pakistan. The languages like Dogri are so closely related to Punjabi that Dogri has been considered a dialect of Punjabi before it was declared a language”, he said.

Although Dogri is now said to belong to the Western Pahari group of languages, it has so close affinity with the Punjabi language that many scholars argue “Dogri is a spoken form of Punjabi”.

Dr Singh said, “Unlike most Indian languages, Dogri is a tonal language like Punjabi. Both these languages are closely related and therefore Dogri was listed as a dialect of Punjabi in the national census before it was declared an independent language. The similarity between the languages eliminates the barriers in communication and cultural exchange. Besides, there is a sizeable Punjabi speaking population of Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir .”

The Punjabi language was a recognised language in the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir. It is also included in the list of languages of the government-supported Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, which was set up in 1958.

Dr Singh said the Central Government should review the decision of excluding Punjabi, Pahari and Gojri from the Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill 2020, in view of the facts related to the cultural diversity.

He argued that Punjabi needs to be recognised the second language in the neighboring Indian states of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir respecting the linguistic rights of the people and their culture. -TNS

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