Srinagar: Several Sikh groups staged a protest on Thursday at Gurduwara Shaheed Bunga in Srinagar seeking inclusion of Punjabi as compulsory subject along with other regional languages.
The protest comes in the wake of state government order no. 333- edu 2017, declaring Kashmiri, Bodhi and Dogri as compulsory subject up to higher secondary level from next academic session.
Sikh groups including All Parties Sikh Coordination Commitee (APSCC), Gurduwara Prabhand Commitee Srinagar, Pulwama and Budgam, Youth Sikh Association, and United Sikh Forum took part in the protest and expressed anguish over the order.
The called the order as an attack on Sikh community and discrimination towards Punjabi language.
“Punjabi is one of the languages recognized under Indian Constitution and was included as regional language in 6th schedule of sec. 146 of J&K constitution. It is the second most spoken language of Jammu and Kashmir but recent government order is a mere discrimination towards Punjabi language,” Chairman APSCC Jagmohan Singh Raina said. “Despite being an old language Punjabi has been totally ignored by the successive governments and the recent order has made it clear. The order is purely based on vote bank politics and is a humiliating attack on Punjabi language.”
Raina said that Sikhs were not the only community speaking Punjabi in the state.
He said that hundreds of teaching positions for Punjabi remain vacant government schools and colleges due to government apathy.
Avatar Singh, a BJP member said, they took up the issue of Punjabi exclusion from the government order with the chief minister”
“We were given assurance by Education Minister Altaf Bukhari that Punjabi language will be included and was dropped out by mistake, but we want the officials to make their statement public,” Avtar said.
The protestors asked the government to withdraw the recent order or be ready for state wide agitation.
“We are giving one week ultimatum to government to immediately withdraw or amend the order or the government will be responsible of the consequences. We are not alone, Sikhs from Jammu will also accompany us,” he said.
Later the protesters tried to march towards official residence of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti but were stopped by police.