STATE TIMES NEWSNEW DELHI: The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed a bill under which Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi, apart from the existing Urdu and English, will be the official languages in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir.Introducing the Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020, Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said it was a demand of the people of Jammu and Kashmir that the language they speak should be the official language.The minister pointed out that 53.26 per cent of the population of Jammu and Kashmir speaks Kashmiri language.Reddy said 26.64 per cent of the population of the UT speaks Dogri while Urdu, which is currently its official language, is spoken only by 0.16 per cent population there. Still for the last 70 years, Urdu continues to be the official language of Jammu and Kashmir, he said, adding that 2.36 per cent population in the UT speaks Hindi.Opposing the bill, Hasnain Masoodi (National Conference) said the central government does not have the legislative competence to frame a bill in this regard.He said it is not a fact that only 0.16 per cent population of the UT speaks Urdu which is a link language between Jammu region and Kashmir.Masoodi said if only 0.16 per cent people in the UT speak Urdu, then why would the government include it as an official language.No other state has five official languages, he said.Intervening in the discussion, Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh said he wondered why the National Conference was opposing the inclusion of Kashmiri as an official language. He alleged that the NC has done politics in the name of “Kashmiriyat” and still it was opposing the bill.The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Jammu and Kashmir Official Language bill, 2020, to introduce Hindi, Kashmiri and Dogri as official languages in the Union Territory, in addition to Urdu and English. The bill also states that the existing institutional mechanisms such as the Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, Jammu and Kashmir, would serve for promotion and development of regional languages of the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, including Gojari (Gujri), Pahari and Punjabi.Till now, Urdu is the official language in J&K, however, it is the mother tongue of only a small section of the population in the Union Territory. On the other hand, a large percentage of population understands and speaks Kashmiri and Dogri. But, unfortunately these were never recognized as official languages.
With the latest move, the Central Government has rectified 131- years old anomaly and also fulfilled the spirit of equality, promised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi after bifurcation on August 5, 2019.The Bill said: ” For preserving Urdu and English which are used as official languages of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and simultaneously elaborating its ambit by including languages spoken by a majority of the population, it has become necessary to enact a law by Parliament.”“With effect from such date as the Administrator (Lt. Governor) may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint in this behalf, the Kashmiri, Dogri, Urdu, Hindi and English languages shall be official languages to be used for all or any of the official purposes of the Union territory and different dates may be appointed for different areas in the Union territory,” the bill further added.The Bill also provides that the English language may continue to be used, for those administrative and legislative purposes, in the Union territory for which it was being used before the commencement of this act. It also said the business in the legislative assembly of the Union Territory shall be transacted in the official language or languages of the Union Territory.The Lt. Governor, administrator of the Union Territory, has been empowered by the new bill to take necessary steps to promote Gojri, Pahari and Punjabi language.The bill now would be introduced in the upper house of the Parliament for consideration and passing after which it will be sent for the President’s assent.
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