Call for collective efforts to revive Kashmiri language

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Mon Sep 19 12:27:17 UTC 2005

>>From Chandigarh Newsline, Monday , September 19, 2005

Muftis pep talk on Pandits rehab seen as eyewash

Displaced Kashmiri Pandits, linguists and authors say J&K Chief Minister
should implement his promises sincerely

Anand S.T. Das

Chandigarh, September 18: JAMMU and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad
Sayeeds call for collective efforts to revive Kashmiri language and
culture is being seen with suspicion and as hypocritical by displaced
Kashmiri Pandits, Kashmiri linguists and authors. Calling the steps taken
by the Mufti-led coalition government to reviveKashmiri language as
double-faced policy, the All India Kashmiri Samaj (AIKS), the apex body of
all organisations of displaced Kashmiri Pandits, said the CMs words bear
no real significance as the state government has made no solid and sincere
efforts at rehabilitating lakhs of displaced Pandits in the valley.

The Mufti government has done absolutely nothing so far to promote
Kashmiri language and culture. It has rather harmed it, AIKS president
M.K. Kaw told Newsline over phone from Delhi. The government is still
noncommittal on resolving the communal divide about two varieties of
Kashmiri language one written in Nastaliq script and the other in
Devanagari script, he added.

Efforts by the Kashmiri language lobby, led by AIKS, to persuade the
Centre to accept Kashmiri in Devanagari script as valid for all practical
purposes like that in Nastaliq script had resulted in a formal order to
that effect by the then Union HRD Minister Dr Murli Manohar Joshi. But the
order was withdrawn soon after the UPA took over due to, as Kaw alleges,
the lobby by the Mufti-led government. As a result, the Kendra Sahitya
Academy is no longer accepting books written in Devanagari script, said
Kaw. The Mufti government has always gladly buckled under the pressure
from the Urdu-using Muslims. Denial of the official status to Kashmiri in
Devanagari script has been the biggest deathblow to this scholarly,
creative language, he said.

Noted Kashmiri linguist and former director of Mysores Central Institute
of Indian Languages (CIIL) Prof. O.N. Kaul said Kashmiri would remain a
dormant language unless it is introduced as a compulsory medium of
instruction in schools. It is a shame that Kashmiri, despite being spoken
predominantly in the state and being in the Constitutions Eighth Schedule,
is yet to get its due place, said Delhi-based Dr Kaul, who has authored
scholarly books on Kashmiri language and grammar. Dr Roop Krishan Bhat,
author of Descriptive Study of Kashmiri Language and prepared primers and
audio cassettes on Kashmiri, said unless solid and sincere steps are taken
to revive Kashmiri, it would die in its own place under the
state-sponsored attack from Urdu.

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