|NPP legislator James Sangma, leader of the Opposition Donkupar Roy. File pictures
Shillong, June 15: The Meghalaya Assembly has asked the state government to pressure the Centre and ensure that Khasi and Garo languages are included in the Constitution. Only three languages from the Northeast have found space in the Constitution’s Eighth Schedule.
In the ongoing re-assembled budget session, concerns were raised over non-inclusion of these two languages, spoken by lakhs within and outside the state, in the Eighth Schedule.
Khasi and Garo languages were recognised and notified as Associate Official Languages of the state. The Meghalaya State Language Act, 2005, received the assent of the governor on May 1, 2005.
In 2012, Unesco had removed the Khasi language from the Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger.
While tabling a resolution in the Assembly for inclusion of the two languages, Sohra legislator T.W. Chyne said that Khasi and Garo languages were spoken and written even in the Barak Valley of Assam and neighbouring Bangladesh.
“Khasi, as a language, was recognised by Calcutta University upto the entrance examination standard in 1900, and up to degree standard in 1919, the same year that Assamese language was recognised by the same university,” Chyne said.
He said in 1948, the language was recognised by Gauhati University while other bodies like the Dibrugarh University, ICSE New Delhi and North Eastern Hill University have also given recognition to the languages.
“The insertion of these languages in the Constitution is our right. It has been a desire and effort since 1989. Inclusion of Khasi language in the civil services examination and other examinations would benefit our students,” the legislator said.
He also felt that the inclusion of the languages would help protect the identity of the state’s major tribes.
Chyne pointed out that the Bodo community, which has a relatively lower population compared to the Khasis, has managed to include the Bodo language in the schedule.
NPP legislator James P.K. Sangma said Garo language was spoken even in Assam, Nagaland, and Bengal besides Bangladesh and Myanmar where a sizeable Garo population resides.
He said out of the 22 languages listed in the schedule, only three are from the Northeast — Assamese, Manipuri and Bodo.
“The state governments in the Northeast including Nagaland, Sikkim, and others have already sent their proposals to the Centre for inclusion of their respective languages. However, our government failed to do so,” he said.
Leader of the Opposition Donkupar Roy said the state government should take the initiative in building up a strong case to convince the Centre to include the languages in the schedule.
“The only option is to put pressure on the Centre for its consideration,” he added.
Replying to the resolution, chief minister Mukul Sangma said the government was taking steps to ensure that the languages are included in the schedule. He also highlighted the correspondences between the Union home ministry and the state government on the language issue.
While withdrawing the resolution, Chyne suggested that the government could bring an official resolution to ensure that Meghalaya’s case for demanding the inclusion of the languages would be seriously considered by the Centre.