Congress Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to include Punjabi as one of the official languages in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Union Cabinet had recently approved a Bill to include Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi as official languages in the newly created Union Territory. The Centres move of not including Punjabi in them has invited sharp criticism from political parties in Punjab.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, the Congress MP has written that the Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020 that government intends to bring excludes many languages recognised as regional languages under Schedule 6 of the Constitution of the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir.
Under this schedule, Punjabi was one of the recognised regional languages. I believe a misunderstanding over the nature of the language of Punjabi must be cleared. Punjabi is not just the language of the Sikhs but is a universal language that has speakers from many faiths both in India and around the world. In fact, the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has lakhs of individuals who speak the language. Since 1958, the Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, set up under Section 146 of the previous Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir even promoted and supported the learning of Punjabi, he wrote.
He said for over 200 years there has been a close link between the people of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.
Given these facts, I urge you to reconsider the Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020 by including Punjabi, he said.