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The State Vs the State Language

It is quite saddening to know that the Raj Bhavan has stopped the subscription to Urdu Language newspapers since Satya Pal Malik took charge of the state on August 23. Reports in a section of media have revealed that the entry of Urdu newspapers to the Raj Bhavan was the first decision Governor Malik took. Earlier all the 12 predecessors of the incumbent Malik used to subscribe to the Urdu newspapers, though all of them did not know the Urdu language. Urdu is the official language of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and Governors imported from outside cannot make excuses of not knowing the language. Governor’s is the highest constitutional seat of power in the state, and it needs to show respect to all the state symbol symbols. Despite being official language it has already been reduced to a ritual by having been heaved out of the offices. It is disgusting that this nominal status of the language is not tolerated. Though Urdu is not mother tongue in Kashmir but its connection with Kashmir is no less than its mother tongue—Kashmiri. Different regions of Kashmir speak different languages like Kashmiri, Dogri, Ladkahi, shina, Balti, Gojri and Pahari. And these dialects are hardly spoken or understood outside their respective areas. However Urdu is spoken and understood in all the regions of the state and it is working a unifying force to make all the regions of the state look one. It is for the similar reason that Urdu has got officials status in the state.
However, over the years, there had been attempts from certain sections—who are hell-bent on destroying the peculiarity of Kashmir—to target Urdu. It has gradually been driven out of the government offices. The non-Kashmiri babus and bureaucrats are directly responsible for eliminating Urdu from government offices. They treat it as national duty to alternate it with English. The different governments on different occasions, in this regard, not only complied obediently with these non-Kashmiri babus but even facilitated them in their mission like willing collaborators. Initially, the destroyers of Kashmiri identity targeted the state constitution. They got it amended to their liking abolishing the nomenclatures of Prime Minister, Sadre-Riyasat, brought the state under the jurisdictions of Election Commission of India and Supreme Court, paved way for non-state subjects for the post governor and several other things that hit the very foundation of Kashmir’s special status. While all this was happening at political and government level, silent but well-designed campaign was launched at cultural level as well through official media. The syllabus at all levels in schools, colleges and university was changed to match with what was being done at political level.
Since the eruption of militancy in late 80s, the onslaught against the idea of Kashmir has been more intense and direct. The conspiracy against Urdu has reasons galore. Revenue, Police (at Thana level only) and Food Supplies were the only departments were Urdu was being used as medium though at lower level only. Officially Urdu-knowing is compulsory for anyone seeking job in these departments. Three years back, government flouted all its norms and rules set for such recruitments when it recruited Naib tehsildars who did not know Urdu. Though, it (Urdu-knowing) was termed as mandatory in the advertisement made for these posts. Last year, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution Department (CAPD) turned away from Urdu to issue ration cards in English and Hindi. It was only after severe public criticism that the move got stalled. A general explanation given in this regard is “English is now commonly used language”. It little matters whether one knows English or not. The fundamental question is why deviation from set procedure? People in south India know English and Hindi more than people in Kashmir and other states. But they have officially banned Hindi languages in their regions. In Kashmir we see senior officers acting as collaborators. Sometime back, Legislative Council passed a resolution with support of all the members—cutting across party lines—to make Urdu compulsory in Jammu and Kashmir’s educational institutions. The resolution also said the posts of tehsildars should be filled up with Urdu-knowing persons. The legislators passed the resolution, with members stating that the official language of Jammu and Kashmir should be promoted and made compulsory. A reality check at ground level is quite disturbing. And the latest initiative by the Raj Bhavan is a case in point.