Jammu: The Jammu and Kashmir government has decided to recommend that Gojri – spoken by some 20 lakh tribal Gujjars and Bakkarwals in the state – be recognised as an official language by including it in the eighth schedule of the constitution.
“Gojri is an important tribal language, spoken in different parts of South Asia. But Jammu and Kashmir state is considered as its epicentre,” said Kashmir Minister for Forests and Environment Mian Altaf and a prominent Gujjar leader.
He said that state government headed by Omar Abdullah is committed to develop all the regional languages “including Gojri on priority”, adding: “Gojri is one of the richest languages of our State in terms of modern and traditional literature.”
Javaid Rahi, Secretary of Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation, a frontal organization of Gujjars, said that there are about 20 lakh Gujjars who speak Gojri in Jammu and Kashmir. Besides, nearly four lakh non-Gujjars speak Gojri, while about six lakh people 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. “Gujjars are also mentioned in the national anthem of Afghanistan.”
Gujjars have since long been demanding the inclusion of Gojri in the eighth schedule of the constitution.
There are 23 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 in 2003.