A Sikh organisation on Saturday launched a signature campaign here to press for the inclusion of Punjabi in the list of official languages in Jammu and Kashmir.
The campaign by Sikh Youth Sewa Trust started outside a gurdwara in Gandhi Nagar as part of its efforts to mobilize support for fulfillment of their demand.
The Union Cabinet on September 2 approved a bill under which Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi, apart from the existing Urdu and English, will be the official languages in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
The bill is likely to be tabled in Parliament during the Monsoon Session next week.
“We have started this campaign to mobilize support and press the government to include Punjabi in the list of official languages in J-K,” chairman of the trust Tajinder Pal Singh said.
He said it is unfortunate that the Centre has not responded to their demand despite support from all sections of society.
“It is a democracy and it is our right to raise our voice against any kind of discrimination,” he said, adding that the Sikhs will continue their peaceful protest in support of their demands.
Besides Sikhs, Gojri and Pahari-speaking people have also expressed their resentment over the exclusion of their languages and are also demanding official status to both the languages.
“Till 1981, Punjabi language was a compulsory subject like Urdu in J-K. It was a part and parcel of the (erstwhile) constitution of Jammu and Kashmir before the abrogation of its special status. Punjabi is popular among a large population of Jammu and Kashmir,” Pal said.
By excluding the Punjabi language, he said the central government has taken an “extreme step” which has caused resentment among minorities not only in Jammu and Kashmir, but among all Punjabi-speaking people across the country.
Seeking intervention of Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, Singh said the signature campaign has been initiated with an aim to bring the Punjabi-speaking people under the banner for inclusion of Punjabi language in the J-K Official Language Bill 2020.
The trust members also appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to review the “discriminatory move” and ensure inclusion of Punjabi as one of the official languages of the Union Territory