On January 15, BJP MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal in a tweet has welcomed the decision of the Ladakh region to remove the official status of the Urdu language. Through this, the mandatory requirement of knowledge of Urdu in government jobs is also removed. The BJP MP had tweeted: “Now Urdu is no more a compulsory language for the recruitment in Ladakh Revenue Department. True freedom from psychological colonialism of #Art370 as well as liberation from the imposed Urdu language by Kashmiri rulers over Ladakh.”
According to Namgyal, Urdu was a “brutal imposition” on the people of Ladakh as it was not spoken by any tribe in the region. Even for Muslims in the region, Urdu was not the mother tongue. Still it was imposed by the Muslim rulers from Kashmir. He argued that the continuation of Urdu was discriminatory.
On January 23, 2021, Namgyal had written to the Centre seeking removal of Urdu as the mandatory language for the government jobs Ladakh.
Now URDU is no more compulsory language for the recruitment in Ladakh Revenue Deptt.
True freedom from psychological colonialism of #Art370 as well as liberation from the imposed Urdu language by Kashmiri rulers over Ladakh.
— Jamyang Tsering Namgyal (@jtnladakh) January 11, 2022
According to the official notification, ‘Bachelor’s degree from any recognized university is the mandatory requirement and not the ‘Knowledge of Urdu along with Bachelor’s degree for the several posts in the revenue department.
Ladakh Buddhist Association also welcomed the move. The LBA insisted that in the police service option of Hindi and English language be given instead of Urdu.
But some Muslim politicians have started whipping up communal passions on this issue. All these years, an alien language was imposed on a majority of people and these politicians did not see anything wrong with that.
Among those who lead the protest are Asgar Ali Karbali, the co-chairman of Kargil Democratic Alliance. According to him, this is beyond Urdu language and says the BJP wants to create a wedge among Buddhists and Muslims. Another politician, Sajad Kargili, has written to the Prime Minister seeking his intervention in the issue.
According to Kargili, Urdu was introduced in Ladakh as one of the official languages by the then Dogra Ruler Maharaja Pratab Singh in 1889. “Under the Dogra regime, the First Settlement Operation was conducted in the Ladakh, Baltistan and Gilgit Wazarat. Urdu was made medium of teaching in schools by Maharaja Hari Singh and Urdu is the medium among the ethnicities in the region and lingua-franca among locals and outside traders,” the letter reads.
“Since Ladakh is the Muslim majority UT and there are approximately 75% Urdu speaking population while as there are 100% Urdu speaking population in Pakistan Occupied Ladakh (Gilgit Baltistan). So, this would be a disastrous step to ignore Urdu in the Union Territory,” the letter reads.
Karbali says a wrong impression is being given that language belongs to Muslims and it was imposed by Kashmiri rulers after 1947 and it has something to do with Article 370. He says though Urdu is not the native language of even Kashmiris, it has remained the language of communication in the region for centuries.
Karbali says the BJP has a habit of linking everything to Article 370. “Mr Namgyal referred to Article 370 but the same MP is seeking guarantees of Article 370 like under Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution. They have either confusion or they want to create confusion,” Karbali says.
But the question many ask is, if, according 2011 Census, the number of Urdu speakers in Jammu & Kashmir, was slightly above 19,000 which is 0.16 per cent of the population, why it should be imposed on people.