Language has always been a unifying as well as a divisive subject in India. States in the country have an official language of their own.
Technically, India follows a three language formula, which means that schools across the country usually teach three languages – English, Hindi and the official language of the state.
This formula, however, is not followed everywhere and by all schools. An example is Tamil Nadu, where Hindi is not taught in all schools.
A tweet by Major Gaurav Arya is going viral on social media. In that tweet, Maj Arya shares a circular in which the chief education officer of Kathua is allegedly instructing all schools in the district to compulsorily teach Urdu to students from Class I to Class V.
According to Major Arya, the move is designed to make Kashmiri children identify more with Pakistan than with their own motherland because Urdu is Pakistan’s national language.
Urdu is being forced on Kashmiri kids so that they identify with Pak, as it is Pak’s national language. What’s wrong with Dogri or Ladakhi? pic.twitter.com/2ZwSj9KY9AAdvertisement
— Major Gaurav Arya (@majorgauravarya) April 21, 2017
Twitterati, too, expressed their anger with the circular and endorsed the view held by Major Arya.
@majorgauravarya Urdu is not a mother tongue to any state Weither in Pak or Ind. Just imposed to unite Islamofacist under one umbrella.
— Dr Ajai S Sharma (@drajayssharma) April 21, 2017
@majorgauravarya Again..it’s not about Urdu.. it’s about having that Islamic language.. coz that’s what’s allowed in Islamic caliphate. Dogri ladakhi – haram
— Jigar Kshatriya (@kshatriyajigar) April 21, 2017
— Sankrant Sanu सानु (@sankrant) April 21, 2017
— Govinda Govinda🇮🇳 (@HinduRajyam) April 21, 2017
@majorgauravarya Ladakhi and Dogri is vernacular language. Every state has its official language. J&K has URDU as its official language from ages
— Anjan Cr7 (@anjan_cr7) April 21, 2017
@majorgauravarya Forcing Urdu on Jk kids up2 class5 is systematic Islamisation.Jammu is Hindi Dogri spiking zone.BJP DyCM why silent?
— Dineshprasad Saxena (@dineshayan1) April 21, 2017
It should be noted here that Urdu is the official language of the Jammu and Kashmir. Being the official language of the state, the government is perhaps fully entitled to impose the language in schools.
@majorgauravarya Gaurav, Urdu has been a state language since the times of the Dogra Maharajas.
— Kartik Dhar (@KartikDhar) April 21, 2017
The problem, however, is that across J&K, the local languages are being ignored – a fact noted by Maj Arya in his tweet.
Urdu was historically never the people’s language of Kashmir anywhere in any part of the state. Though some prominent Kashmiri poets and authors wrote in Urdu, the language itself is alien to the region.
In Kashmir, the predominant language is Kashmiri or Koshur. Dogri is the second-most spoken language in the state. In Ladkah, the native speak Ladakhi – a Tibetic language.
Native Kashmiris usually do not speak in Urdu between themselves. They speak in Kashmiri. In fact, Kashmiri has been the language of the region long before the arrival of Islam. Kashmiri is also written in two different scripts – the Devanagri and Perso-Arabic. Before these two, the language was written in Sharda script.
In 2008, parents had protested the decision of the then state government of making Kashmiri compulsory in schools arguing that there were not enough teachers to teach the language. That speaks of the decline of the language. Children are not taught the language; politicians don’t deliver lectures in the language; Separatists don’t fight for the language. Everyone, it appears, loves Urdu – the national language of Pakistan.
When the Centre tried to re-introduce the Devanagri script of Kashmir, it was opposed by some literary organizations in the state who claimed that such a move will destroy the Kashmiri literature of the state and divide the community. Thus it is quite a wonder why no one in Kashmir vociferously objects to Urdu’s imposition.