Fretted over the move to replace Urdu by Hindi as the official language in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir that was declared a Union Territory by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP government last year, several Kashmiris have termed it “a conspiracy against Muslims and a linguistic onslaught on the cultural identity of people of Kashmir.”
On behalf of a social activist Madhav Arora, advocate Priyanshu Sharma filed a petition in Jammu and Kashmir High Court to declare Hindi as the official language of Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir. However, asking the UT administration to show cause as to why the petition should not be admitted, the High Court has posted it for hearing on October 7, 2020.
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.
Opposing the petition, Khurram Parvez, Programme Coordinator, Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society said, “In Kashmir, 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. Since the era of Maharajas, Urdu has started connecting people in this territory. And, if they bring Hindi in place of Urdu as state language, the problem will be exhaustive as for the people here it’s an alien language. Majority people of Jammu and Kashmir will not identify with this language. So, this move will not yield much result. People will be forced to use this language for official purposes, but they will prefer English over Hindi because it’s a global language.”
He added, “RSS and its affiliated organizations for the last many years have been campaigning on a slogan of Hindi, Hindu and Hindustan. They believe that whoever is Hindu is the primary citizen of the country and others are secondary citizens and everyone should speak in the same language that is Hindi. So, that kind of fascist approach and mindset has been going on for many decades. Now that they have their own government in Delhi and also in Kashmir, they are trying everything possible to do whatever they like. RSS has that mindset that they will dominate Kashmir and Hinduisation and Hindiisation of Kashmir is essential. But they don’t realize that if they do this even in a state like Tamil Nadu where majority is Hindu, there will be repulsion.”
“This is part of the Hindutva agenda to divide this region. We will not allow this thing to happen. Urdu has been the official language of J&K since Maharjha’s time. Why all of a sudden they have a problem with Urdu language? This is a conspiracy and part of sinister design against Kashmir. In my view this is a linguistic onslaught on the cultural identity of people of Kashmir,” said Parveena Ahangar, a Srinagar based human rights activist.
Saleem, a local journalist in Srinagar said, “RSS and its affiliated organizations have always a desire of transforming India from a secular country to a Hindu Rashtra. They have this desire and ethnic prejudice as well where they want Hindu language to be imposed on all the people across India. In Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and many other states like West Bengal, if they try to impose Hindi language, there will be huge repulsion. But Kashmir being a territory which otherwise is a cosmic zone, otherwise categorized as a disputed territory, when Indian government tries to do this, it has a very serious design…the design to change the cultural demographic composition here. They want to change language, they want to change history, they want to change everything here. And that is what they have been trying to do for the last few years. They have abrogated Article 370 and 35A and introduced domicile law. They are trying to bring in final solutions as per their words. And it will be demographic annihilation of the people of Kashmir.”