Thousands join rally for inclusion of Khasi language in Eighth Schedule

Shillong, Sept 22: Thousands took part in a march to demand for early fulfillment of the demand to include the Khasi language in the Eight Schedule.
Organised by the Khasi Authors’ Society, the march began from Madan Ïewrynghep to Madan Malki where thousands of processionists including students joined the rally and shouted slogans in support of the demand.

At Madan Malki, various speakers gave their speech even as heavy rain lashed out few minutes after the processionists entered the venue of the rally.

The rally on the demand was also supported by various organisations including churches, educational institutions, and political parties.

Northeast Students Organization chairman, Samuel B. Jyrwa, president of the Khasi Authors Society, D.R.L. Nonglait, scholars and academicians spoke in favour of the demand especially the delay of the Centre to recognize the Khasi language despite having been fulfilled all criterias laid down by the Union ministry of home affairs.

Khasi belongs to the Austro-Asiatic family in the Mon-Khmer group. It is widely spoken in Meghalaya and in parts of Assam and Bangladesh. The only language belonging to this family which has been included in the Eighth Schedule so far is Santali.

Commenting on lack of political will, Nonglait said that there was no fixed criteria in as far as getting the language include in the Eighth Schedule is concerned since government from time to time considered also the sentiment of those who speak and write the language.

“We have seen during the Bodo language movement in Assam, people came out to the streets and it was violent. We have seen in Goa also when Konkani language was under the consideration, there were many violent activities. So the government of India sees the sentiment of the people. But we the Khasis are peaceful people and we have been able to get statehood through peaceful agitation. Now also, when we move for inclusion of Khasi language peacefully but then, strategies of our movement cannot be revealed,” Nonglait said, while urging the state and the Centre not to delay it anymore.

The rally in unison demanded that the Centre should consider the inclusion of Khasi language in the Eighth Schedule in the upcoming session of Parliament.

According to the 2011 census, 14,31,344 people in India spoke Khasi. He also said that Khasi, as a written language, has completed 176 years. The language is being taught from the primary school level up to the PhD level.

The society demanded that a resolution should be tabled in the Assembly to urge the Centre to include Khasi in the Eighth Schedule.

On Friday, the Meghalaya cabinet has approved the proposal of the political department to table a resolution in the Assembly and get it passed during the ongoing Autumn Session to urge the Centre to include both Khasi and Garo languages in the Eighth Schedule.

The foundation of the demand was laid nearly 58 years ago when a movement had started against the imposition of Assamese as the official language in the then state of Assam, including the erstwhile United Khasi and Jaiñtia Hills district.

The trigger for the movement was the promulgation of the Assam Official Language Act, 1960, which threatened to overshadow the Khasi and Garo languages, and one of the results of the movement was the creation of Meghalaya as a state in 1972.

The Khasi Authors Society which was formed on September 11, 1979, has been working for strengthening the demand.

In 2005, the Meghalaya Assembly passed the Meghalaya Language Act which recognised Khasi and Garo as the state’s associate official languages. English continues to be the official language as no other language links the Khasi, Jaiñtia and the Garo communities.
The rally was led by a group of bikers followed by leaders of the Khasi Authors’ Society and enthusiastic chanting of Phawar by members of Khasi Students’ Union.
Others who addressed the rally include P. Syiemlieh, the Syiem of Hima Nongkhlaw, Prof. Antionette Kharmalki, Head of Khasi Department, North Eastern Hill University; Dr P Nongtdu, Principal of Jaiñtia Eastern College; Dr. S Loniak Marbaniang, retired Professor of NEHU; Dr. Bajubon Roy Kharlukhi, former MP and former Principal of Union Christian College.

All speakers asserted that Khasi language deserved to be included in the Eight Scheduled to the Constitution of India in terms of the quality and quantity of literary books in various branches of studies. Khasi language is also used in mass communication and internet portals for dissemination of information and imparting knowledge to various target groups like agriculture, education, healthcare, cultural heritage and others.
Further, it was also asserted that Khasi language already exceeded the criteria given by the Sahitya Akademi for the purpose of inclusion in the Eight Scheduled to the Constitution of India.
Prof Antionette Kharmalki narrated that Khasi language is also a subject of studies at Calcutta University, Guwahati University since the pre-independence period, which the British colonial rulers recognised the Khasi language more than any other tribal languages in the country.

Some of the speakers urged upon legislators to bring out a resolution in the Assembly session and demanded their enthusiastic participation in the public domain, even to rally to the Indian parliament house along with the eminent Khasi leaders and Khasi residents of the national capital, New Delhi.

A large number of public braved the rain during the rally and remained in the field throughout the meeting, carrying placards with the zeal and fervour of patriotism. The rally was also enhanced with the music of folk and traditional songs performed by the students of Lady Keane College, Shillong and Thomas Jones Synod College, Jowai.

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