The Group of Concerned Citizens (GCC), a Kashmir-based civil society body of former bureaucrats, vice-chancellors and academicians, on Friday expressed its concern over the promotion of the Devanagri script instead of the Nastaliq style for the Kashmiri language, and the threat posed to Urdu due to the new Bill introduced in the Parliament.
The members of the GCC, in a joint statement, pointed out that the Common Locale Data Repository (CLDR), a project of the Unicode consortium for preparation of required data, is using the Devanagari script instead of its own Persian script.
“The introduction of Devanagari script in the digitised official repository raises genuine apprehensions about the future of the Persian script, which need to be allayed through an explicit order about retention of Persian script in Nastaliq style,” the civil society group said.
Kashmiri, written in Persian script, was the medium of instruction at school till the late 1950s, when it was replaced by Urdu using Persian script. “At present, the Kashmiri language is taught as a compulsory subject from Class I to Class VIII in all schools of Kashmiri speaking areas. Persian script written in Nastaliq style is the standard system of writing this language and is also a repository of cultural heritage and identity of Kashmiris,” the group said.
Several languages of Jammu and Kashmir like Gojri, Pahari, Poshtu, Balti, Sheena, Urdu, etc. also are written in the Persian script.
The group said it notes with caution the recent approval of the Bill to include Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi as the official languages of J&K for introduction in the Parliament.
“The move is aimed at assuaging the sensibilities of diverse denominations is impracticable and wonders how it is going to work on the ground. Shall official correspondence have to be in five languages and how far is it practicable?” the group said.
It warned that the move may lead to divisive linguistic politics. “Demands for the inclusion of other languages such as Gojri, Pahari and Punjabi have already started cropping up. Even in the case of Kashmiri and Dogri, the question arises as to which of the many dialects of these languages will be adopted. The government should revisit the decision,”” the group said.
The CCG signatories included former V-C of the Central University of Kashmir Wahid Qureshi; former V-C of the Jammu University of Agricultural Sciences Hashmatullah Khan; former head of the Department of English, Central University of Kashmir, Prof. Muhammad Aslam, retired Professor of Urdu Nusrat Andrabi; Kashmir Times editor Anuradha Bhasin; former advocate general of J&K High Court Riyaz Jan; and former J&K Information Commissioner G.R. Sufi.