Speaking in the Lok Sabha on Monday, Congress MP Manish Tewari urged the Centre to designate Punjabi as an official language in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. As per the Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill 2020 approved by the Union Cabinet on September 2, only Urdu, Kashmiri, Dogri, Hindi, and English have been designated as the official languages. Maintaining that the exclusion of Punjabi language is a "very sensitive" issue, he delved into history.
Tewari stated that Punjabi was prominently spoken in Jammu since the domination of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in the region. Moreover, he added most of the refugees who came to Jammu after partition spoke Punjabi. The Congress leader called for an end to the alleged discrimination being meted out to the Punjabi language in J&K.
Congress MP remarked, "I want to direct the House's attention towards a very sensitive issue. In 1808, Sher-e-Punjab Maharaja Ranjit Singh had established his rule over Jammu. In 1820, Maharaja Ranjit Singh gave the jagir of Jammu to the father of Gulab Singh. In 1822, he himself anointed Gulab Singh as the king of Jammu. For the last 200 years, the Punjabi language is widely spoken in Jammu and the surrounding areas. Many dialects of Punjabi are spoken in Jammu and Kashmir. When partition took place in 1947, most of the refugees who came to Jammu spoke Punjabi."
"It is very regrettable that the Centre approved the J&K Official Languages Bill on September 2. In this bill, only Urdu, Kashmiri, Dogri, Hindi and English have been granted the official language status. I demand the government include the Punjabi language in this bill. This kind of discrimination being meted out to the Punjabi language in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir should end," he added.
Throwing light on 200-yr old legacy of Punjabi & its dialects being among the spoken languages in J&K, vehemently opposed J&K Official Languages Bill passed by GOI on 2.9.2020 omitting Punjabi among the 5 languages mentioned as majorly spoken ones & stressed upon its inclusion. pic.twitter.com/oy6gsRoq4x— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) September 14, 2020
Incidentally, Punjab BJP chief Ashwani Sharma has put forth the same demand recently, writing to Union Home Minister Amit Shah in this regard. Mentioning that over 70% of the population of J&K understood or spoke Punjabi, he opined that Dogri is an off-shoot of Punjabi. Sharma noted that J&K was an important part of the Sikh empire since Maharaja Ranjit Singh's time. Before the reorganization of J&K in August 2019, Urdu was the sole official language of the state.