A public interest litigation (PIL) has been moved in Jammu and Kashmir High Court seeking directions to declare Hindi as the official language of the Union Territory claiming that the people of Jammu have been a victim of the language barrier.
The people of Jammu are in an upbeat mood over the move to replace Urdu by Hindi as the official language of the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir. They have termed it as ‘‘biggest ever gift to people of Jammu region after the abrogation of Article 370’’.
Sharing his thoughts on the move and a petition filed in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in this regard, Anubhav Misri, a Poonch-based journalist told Organiser over the phone that Poonch is a Muslim majority area and life for Hindus here is too difficult. People of more than 10 districts of Jammu province read and write Hindi. Hence, it is beyond imagination to understand particularly post-abrogation of Article 370, why the business in government offices should run in Urdu, which we do not understand.
He was of the view that declaration of Hindi as an official language will give the people big respite. Changing official language from Urdu to Hindi will be the biggest ever gift to people of Jammu region after the abrogation of Article 370.
Balwan Singh, a resident of Jammu, told Organiser, ‘‘It’s a long time demand and wish of the people here that Hindi must be accorded the status of an official language of the Union Territory. It’s undoubtedly an excellent and praiseworthy move. For the last several years maintenance of land records in Urdu have often led corrupt revenue officials to cheat.’’
A Copy of the PIL by social activist Madhav Arora
It may be recalled that on behalf of a social activist Madhav Arora, advocate Priyanshu Sharma had filed a petition in Jammu and Kashmir High Court to declare Hindi as the official language of Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir. In the petition, Sharma argued that by not recognising Hindi as an official language, the administration is depriving the public at large to suffer due to their inability to understand Urdu language, in which the official documents are recorded.
Despite the enactment of Reorganization Act, 2019, the UT administration continues to record all documents pertaining to revenue, police and subordinate judiciary in Urdu. However, asking the UT administration to show cause as to why the petition should not be admitted, High Court has posted it for hearing on October 7, 2020.
Khurram Parvez, Programme Coordinator, Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society said, ‘‘Urdu language is a language of connection and unity. It has been the only language which connected people from each regional backgrounds of Jammu and Kashmir. If they bring Hindi in place of Urdu as the state language, the problem will be exhaustive for the people here.’’
Section 47 of the J&K Reorganisation Act empowers the new Legislative Assembly of the Union Territory of J&K to “adopt any one or more of the languages in use in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir or Hindi as the official language or languages to be used for all or any of the official purposes.”