Thousands march to seek recognition for Khasi

By Our Reporter

SHILLONG: Thousands of people from all walks of life participated in a rally that was organised on Saturday to garner support for the inclusion of Khasi language in the Eighth Schedule.
School and college students, politicians and academicians walked in the procession led by the Khasi Authors’ Society (KAS) that started from fire Brigade and culminated at Malki ground. Despite the rain the spirit of the participants remained intact.
Speaking to reporters after the rally, KAS president DRL Nonglait expressed confidence that the language would be included in the Indian Constitution with regard to the fulfilment of criteria set forth by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
“There were some queries from that Ministry about the number of people speaking Khasi and whether there has been around 5 lakh and above people who speak this language,” he said.
According to the 2011 census, the number of people speaking Khasi in India was up at 14,31,344 which is much higher than the limit set by the ministry, informed Nonglait.
Another important criterion the MHA had set is that the language should be a medium of instruction in schools and colleges for which Nonglait said Khasi has been the medium of instruction of examination from nursery to PhD.
“There are languages which have been included in the Eighth Schedule but they have not even opened PG courses. So when we consider academically and the literary tradition of the Khasi language, then they should not neglect the stature of the language. We are far ahead of the stature of Bodo and Santhali, which were included in the Eighth Schedule  in the last few years,” he said.
When pointed out that there are 42 languages in the country which are seeking recognition, Nonglait said, “There is no difficulty and no potential threat with regard to giving Khasi and Garo languages space in the Eighth Schedule, there has to be criteria but Khasi language is rich and vast as the 42 languages but it all depends on the will of the government.”
Asked about inclusion of Garo language, Nonglait said the organisation would be happy if it was recognised but it should be on the basis of merit.
“An attempt to include Garo in the Eighth Schedule should not be a stumbling block for the consideration of Khasi as the language which has got better and higher stature than the former,” he said while commenting on the state Cabinet’s decision to pass an official resolution in the assembly to include both the languages.
“We have been fighting for statehood together with the Garo and we will be glad if Khasi is included and we don’t have any problem if Garo is included but one thing I should make very clear, it has to go by merit,” he added.
The KAS head said Khasi has been on the list of 38 languages which the Ministry of Home Affairs is considering for recognition but on checking the ministry’s website, Nonglait found that Garo has also been included in the list.
When asked about the KAS’s course of action if the Centre did not recognise the language in the upcoming parliamentary session, Nonglait said, “We will not stop to voice our demand. We will have to make our demands heard by the authorities concerned and we will have to plan our strategy how to make the government realise that the Khasi people should not be neglected.”
Besides Nonglait, others who addressed the rally were Samuel Jyrwa, president of North East Students’ Organisation, Antionette Kharmalki, Head of Khasi Department at NEHU, P Nongtdu, principal of Jaintia Eastern College, S Loniak Marbaniang, retired professor of NEHU, and Bajubon Roy Kharlukhi, former MP and former principal of Union Christian College.
KAS has been fervent in their approach starting with awareness seminars in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills.
Commenting on the low footfall at the rally, Nonglait said KAS did not plan to make it “a huge affair and chose Malki ground which is also small”.
“If we had planned to make it in a bigger way we would have chosen Polo Grounds but we thought this place would be enough to accommodate the people we have requested to attend. We have not arranged people from other districts to come. The crowd is only from the city and on its outskirts,” he added.
The meeting
Speaking at the public rally, Nonglait said a delegation of KAS will go to Delhi and submit a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
“If there is a need, we will organise another rally. It will not be with a small crowd as this but it should be 50 times more than the present crowd,” he said.
He added that the 36 MLAs should approach Delhi and not sit idle if the central government does not pay heed to the demand of the KAS.

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