Jammu: The tribal Gujjar community of Jammu and Kashmir Sunday demanded that Gojri be recognized as an official language and included in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
Dr. Javed Rahi, secretary of Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation, a frontal organisation of the Gujjars, appealed to the union home minister “to amend the list of official languages of India by including Gojri – the oldest tribal language – into it, during the forthcoming session of parliament.”
Rahi said that recommendation has already been made to the central government for Gojri’s inclusion in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
The Jammu and Kashmir government during the governor’s rule in the 1990s had made the recommendation for an official status to Gojri.
“The decision is pending with the central government over the past two decades,” he said.
He said that Gojri is one of the oldest and significant languages of the south Asian sub-continent. It is spoken by the Gujjar tribe — an ethno-linguistic minority of the state.
“Gojri has a locus standi for its inclusion in the Eighth Schedule, as there are adequate provisions and facilities in the Indian Constitution for linguistic minorities,” he said. “Gojri has a strong literary tradition. It has been recognized as a tribal language of India by the Sahitya Academy.”
The secretary said that a noted saint-scholar and Hindi-Persian poet of 13th century, Hazrat Amir Khusroo, had formally mentioned Gojri language in the list of eighteen major Indian languages of his time.
“Several researchers and historians have already said that the Gojri language is the mother of Rajasthani, Gujrati, Urdu and Haryanvi languages,” he said.
Rahi said the state government has already recognised Gojri by including it in the Sixth Schedule of the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir. The state has its own constitution.
He said: “According to current analysis, Gojri language is the first language of 20 million people in south Asia, including India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. A good chunk of Gojri-speaking people is living in Jammu and Kashmir.”
There are about 20 lakh Gujjars who speak Gojri in Jammu and Kashmir, nearly four lakh non-Gujjars also speak Gojri besides about six lakh who speak it as a second language.
Rahi said that besides Jammu and Kashmir, “Gojri is spoken in 12 other states, including Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Gujarat.”
There are 22 languages in the Eighth Schedule. Of the languages spoken in Jammu and Kashmir, Urdu, Kashmiri and Dogri are already in the schedule. Dogri was the last to be added to the list in the year 2003.