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- Preface
- Contributors
- Kashmiri and the Linguistic Predicament
- Roots, Evolution and Affinity
- The Sharada Script
- The Dogri Language
- Gujari Language
- Sanskritic Impact
- The Balti Language
- Balti, Bodhi, Spiti & Lahuli Speeches
- Urdu in Jammu and Kashmir
- Hindi in Kashmir
- Language and Politics
- Appendix A
- Appendix B
- Appendix C
- Appendix D
- Select Bibliography
Jammu, Kashmir & Ladakh - Linguistic Predicament

Edited by: P. N. Pushp and K. Warikoo
Himalayan Research and Cultural Foundation
Har-Anand Publications

Urdu in Jammu and Kashmir
- by Nishat Ansari

Nestled in the Himalayan region, the fascinating State of Jammu and Kashmir has from time immemorial been a confluence of various streams of culture and civilizations, due to its close commercial and cultural relations with the adjoining Central Asia.

With the advent of Islam and Muslims in the Kashmir valley, Turkish, Arabic and Persian languages came alongwith. Persian was the same language which bore close resemblance and relation with Avesta and Aryan language for hundreds of years. The Persian language pushed Sanskrit into background. Both the Kashmiri Muslims and Hindus alike produced creative works and literary masterpieces, which have become pride of the Persian language and for the same reason Kashmir has been often called Iran-i-sagheer (smaller Iran).

On the other hand, the language brought by the Aryans obliterated all the regional dialects and gave birth to a new language, which was called Apabhramsh out of which emerged Haryanavi, Khadiboli, Mewati and Braj Bhasha in the shape of modern Indian languages. Braj Bhasha and Persian language had an interaction since the invasion of Mehmood Gaznavi (1021 AD). When Mughal rule was at its zenith, a new language known as Urdu came into existence. This new language was sometimes called Lashkari, sometimes "Urdu-i-Moalla Raikhta and sometimes Hindustani. Urdu is a language that absorbed numerous words of Arabic, Persian, Turkish, English, Latin, Sanskrit and other languages. For .this diversity Urdu language is looked upon as an ESPERANTO i.e. an artificial global language which has elasticity and can serve as a lingua franca among the people with diverse cultures. Urdu became quite popular in Northern India.

It was the period when East India company had established their rule in India. The mother tongue of the new rulers was English. They had occupied India to rule Indians and needed a language whereby they could consolidate their firm grip. So they adopted Urdu as the link language. Accordingly they took practical steps to promote Urdu. For this purpose East India company laid the foundation of the Fort William College, Calcutta in 1757 AD under the directorship of the renowned orientalist John Gilchrist. Experienced Hindu and Muslim scholars, poets and thinkers like Mir Amin Dehilvi, Sher Ali Afsos, Lallo ji Lal, Mirza Ali Lutuf, Bahadur Ali Hussani, Haider Baksh Haidari, Hafeez-ud-din Ahmad, Nihal Chand Lahori, Mazhar Ali Vila, Akram Ali etc. were employed to translate the famous books of Sanskrit, Hindi, Persian, Arabic, Turkish and other languages into Urdu prose. In this way Urdu began to flourish under the direct patronage of the British Government. In Kashmir, the importance of Persian language dwindled with the end of Afghan rule and with the beginning of Sikh rule. Urdu, however, had sprouted in Kashmir in the State courts, revenue department and other government and semi-government offices came under its influence. Prior to this linguistic change in the J&K State, Urdu had come to forefront during the reign of Jahangir's rule in northern India. Later, the British encouraged the employment of Urdu in order to strengthen their political and administrative control and to facilitate their communication with the Indians, which helped Urdu to flourish and dominate. In undivided Punjab this new language had influenced the rich as well as the middle class people. Since the link between Kashmir and the rest of India was through Punjab, the impact of Urdu on Kashmir became obvious.

The Dogra ruler Maharaja Gulab Singh proved to be the most powerful Raja of this hilly State after Maharaja Ranjeet Singh of Punjab. Gulab Singh extended his kingdom by annexing Ladakh, Skardu, Kishtwar, and the district Jhelum. Although the official and court language at that time was Persian, the Dogra region of Jammu had accepted the impact of Urdu more quickly than the people of the valley. Thus the speakers and scholars of Persian in the J&K State had to encounter Urdu, which had by then assumed the status of an acclaimed literary language in Punjab and the vast Himalayan areas of India
During the popular uprising of 1857 against the British, Maharaja Gulab Singh had helped the British Government both by money and manpower. In this connection the written appeal made by British authorities to Maharaja Gulab Singh was written in the Urdu script which is still lying in the Manuscript records of Dr. Karan Singh (former Sadar-i-Riyasat of the State). Maharaja Ranbir Singh affected many reforms right from the day he ascended the throne and the Criminal Code of his State was written in Urdu. In order to develop regional languages of the State, Maharaja set up a translation cell in Jammu, where Urdu played a dominant role. For this purpose a press namely Bidya Bilas was established in Jammu for the first time. It was at this press that the first Urdu newspaper of this State titled Bidya Bilas was published under the editorship of Pandit Gopi Nath Gurtoo, which continued till 1938 A.D.

This was the period when Urdu writers having interest in Kashmir started publishing newspapers from Lahore, Amritsar, Rawal Pindi, Sialkot and Jullandhar, of which MURASALA-I-KASHMIR, KHAIR KHAHI KASHMIR, PUBLIC NEWS and RAFEEQ-I-HINDUSTAN were worth the name. The non-Kashmiri Hindu and Muslim Scholars, poets and penmen, whose fore-fathers had migrated to different cities of Punjab and northern India in the past played a key role in the publication of these newspapers. Besides, the people who were in the government service in Kashmir were interested to develop the Urdu language. The two brothers, Pandit Hargopal Khasta and Pandit Saligram Sahk played a vital role in the propagation of Urdu.

Following the death of his father Ranbir Singh and the ascension of Maharaja Pratap Singh to the throne in 1885 AD, the British Government appointed a Resident in Kashmir for the first time. From then onwards, Maharaja had virtually to work under the Resident's supervision. This drastic step too facilitated the advancement of the Urdu language as it was already used as a link language by the Britishers. However, Urdu was recognised as a State and official language only in 1889 AD. During the period some Parsi Theatrical Companies of Bombay got an opportunity to stage played called Nataks. This too helped in further promotion of Urdu in the State. These Natak companies brought the public closer to this link language. Besides, the professional Urdu signers from Punjab rushed to Kashmir and under their influence all the streets, bazars and lanes of Jammu and Srinagar echoed with their melodious songs in Urdu. All these agencies combined to make the J&K State a platform for popularising Urdu.

One of the reasons of rapid progress of Urdu after Persian, was that the Kashmiri language spoken by the majority suffered due to negligence and non-acceptance by the rulers for about 500 years and Kashmiri language could not emerge out of its dialectal shell. Consequently Urdu took its place.

Maharaja Ranbir Singh or Pratap Singh might have made Dogri (their own mother tongue) the State and official language, but for the fact that the J&K State is physically divided into three heterogenous units, having different cultures, customs, traditions, modes of living, clothing and
mother tongues. The people living in those three regions speak different dialects like Kashmiri, Dogri, Bodhi, Balti, Hindi, Gojri, Punjabi, Pahari, Pogli, Siraji, Dardi, Shina, Bhadarwahi etc. Among these Kashmiri, Dogri and Bodhi are considered to be the established regional languages of this State. To string these diverse units Urdu was accorded the status of link as well as the official language. One more reason was that Kashmiris, Jammuvis, and Ladakhis had been conversant with Urdu and felt closer to it. Kashmiri Hindus and Muslims had been writing and speaking Persian since the period of Shahmiri Sultans. The similarity of script, homogenous alphabets, grammar and a great treasure of vocabulary absorbed in Urdu made it more acceptable to Dogra rulers than Punjabi or Dogri. The state's practical association with Urdu, therefore, became imperative.

After Sanskrit and Persian it is only Urdu that proved to be the source of literary satisfaction to the people of the State. Though Urdu had originated far away from the State, the Kashmirians irrespective of religion, caste and creed nourished this language with the sweat of thier brow. They employed all their creative intelligence, potentials and faculties to promote it. To them this language is as important as their mother tongue and they have chosen it as medium of expression, thoughts and feelings during the past century. During this long spell they have published newspaper written novels, short stories, dramas, critical essays and composed creative poety. They have sung the songs of freedom from the stages in this language. Any serious literate of Urdu literature cannot overlook their contributions and achievements. Just as Delhi Dabistan, Lucknow School, Rampor Dabistan, Lahore School and Haiderabad Dabistan are considered as main schools of thought in Urdu, similarly Kashmiri Dabistan-i-Urdu also has been acknowledged as one of the schools of thought all over the country.

From among the regional languages of the State, Kashmiri, Dogri, Gojri, Punjabi, and Bodhi are also being provided adequate facilities to promote and flourish along with the official language (Urdu). But Urdu is the link language as it integrates and promotes the diverse cultural units of J&K State. In this connection the individual endeavour and the efforts of the government and semi-government agencies are also priase-worthy. The prominent agencies that came into existence after 1947, like Cultural Front, All State Cultural Conference, Literary Forum, Anjuman-i-Arbab-iZauq, Halqa-i-Ilim-u-Adab, Anjumani-Tarakki Pasand Musanifeen, Bazmi Urdu Adab, Bazmi Adab Kishtwar, Anjuman-i-Tarakki-i-Urdu, and Anjuman-i-Farogi Urdu, Jammu have played an excellent role in the propagation of the Urdu Language. Among other agencies of communication, the State Information Department, State Cultural Academy, Radio Kashmir, Srinagar, Doordarshan Kendra, Srinagar, Radio Kashmir Jammu, Iqbal Institute and Urdu Departments of Kashmir and Jammu Universities are in the forefront.

For the past 110 years Urdu has pervaded the social, political, cultural and educational fields completely. During the past 40 years good books on different topics and subjects of prose and poetry are being published every year. Text books from Primary to Post-Graduate level are published in Urdu. The teachers and literary persons use Urdu as a medium of learning and teaching in all the three cultural units of the State. For the presentation of this old and new literature to the people outside the State, Urdu is the only medium. To introduce the traditional architecture, customs, values, rituals etc. beyond the territories of the State, Urdu is the ready means of communication and medium of expression.

The main role of the Urdu language and literature is its speedy effect on every genre of Kashmir poetry so much so that communist and progressive movements which began in late third and early fourth decades of this century, influenced Kashmiri and other native dialects of the State equally. Similarly when after 1950, the whole country began to echo with modernism imitating new trends in English literature in Urdu, Kashmiri too was considerably influenced by these trends and modernism. So much so that now every literary movement starting in European countries is getting quickly reflected in Urdu as well as Kashmiri and other regional languages.

So far as Urdu journalism is concerned, it has brought revolutionary changes following the freedom of press and platform after 1933. At present besides Srinagar and Jammu cities, various Urdu dailies, weeklies, fortnightlies and monthlies, journals and periodicals are being published in every town of the State. In the field of politics, the leaders also use Urdu to deliver speeches, sermons or addresses. Urdu has not remained static or stagnant but has a capacity to assimilate every new trend, new change and new movement that takes place any where with the passage of time. Urdu has thrown away the mantle of conventionalism.

Urdu as a link language of the State has laid deep impression on Kashmiri, Dogri, Ladakhi and Gojri, which can be ascertained by meeting students reading in the schools and colleges in all the three units of the State. While teaching Arabic, Sanskrit or Persian learned teachers and professors take refuge under the umbrella of Urdu to bring home to students the most tedious or complicated explanations. Even the gist of science topics is conveyed to students in Urdu. In the University examinations answers to the questions of Persian and Arabic papers are written in Urdu and not in Arabic or Persian languages.

The genres of literature that Urdu received from Persian language have affected other regional languages of the State and the fiction, dramas, novels etc. written in these regional languages have an unmistakable stamp of Urdu. While Kashmiri is dominated by Sanskrit and Persian languages, numerous Urdu words like darwaza, makan, khet, tijarat, darbar, dukh, tayar, kameez, jurab, khe'il, kami, janvar, ziarath, sheer, onnt, bulbul, nahar, darya, samandar, aasman, sham, jantari, dosti, pardah, aainak, banyan, sandok, kanchi, talwar, booth, pari, bistur, dakoo, lutaira, safed, sabaz, fawara, sabzi, sadak, chaiye, jihad, tamasha etc. are used in toto and have the greatest frequency and currency in day to day conversation among Kashmiri. Whatever new trend affects Urdu from outside the State, the regional languages quickly emulate it.

Any difference, distinctness or lingual dissimilarity between Urdu and other regional languages of the State is because the grammar of Urdu is different from that of Dogri, Gojri and Bodhi. The very old poetic genres of Kashmiri literature like Vaak, Shruk, Vatsun and Pad have not been affected by Urdu even after such a long association and interaction. One more reason of dissimilarity is that Kashmiri and Dogri languages are stuffed mostly with Sanskrit words and vocabulary. Besides, the cultural background of Urdu is at variance with Kashmiri cultural background. That is to say that in Urdu the cultural background of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Hyderabad is reflected very adequately.

So far as the problems of Urdu are concerned, the greatest tragedy befell Urdu when the country was divided in 1947, and Pakistan declared Urdu as its national language. Its negative affect restricted the flourishing of Urdu language in India because it was presumed that Urdu is a language of Muslims. Secondly in the VIII schedule of Indian constitution recognition was conferred on the regional languages and dialects spoken in the country which aroused lingual awareness everywhere and it led to prejudice against Urdu in the non-Urdu speaking areas.

For this reason Urdu is being treated as a secondary language in Ladakh and Jammu. Although Urdu is constitutionally the official language of the State. yet all the official correspondance in educational institutions, courts and offices is being carried in English. When the question of promoting mother tongues is raised, Urdu is pushed further in the background. The Jammuvis plead for Dogri, Kashmiris for Kashmiri and Ladakhis for Bodhi, but none advocates the case of Urdu. No doubt the Jammu and Kashmir Universities have established their Urdu departments, but the number of Urdu students is quite low as compared to other subjects. All these reasons and facts portend a dismal future for Urdu in the J&K State.

There is no dearth of Urdu speaking people in Kashmir but their pronunciation, accent and intonation are defective and they fail to equate themselves with the Urdu speaking people of Delhi, Hyderabad, and Uttar Pradesh. Highly qualified Urdu knowing persons in the State speak Urdu like yeh meri ticket hai, mahi Ramzan ka mahena aaya, bay fazool bahas mat karo, darwaza dedo. Learned Urdu speaking people make mistake in gender and number. Thus Urdu has failed to become the common language of Kashmiris, even though the J&K state has the distinction of according it a State language status.

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