Hindi returns to Kashmir after two decades

Comeback: First-ever workshop on the language begins in Srinagar on National Hindi Day on September 14; Hindi witnessed a phenomenal decline with the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley in 1990.

chandigarh Updated: Sep 14, 2012 18:02 IST
Peerzada Ashiq
Peerzada Ashiq
Hindustan Times

Hindi language, which over the years faded into oblivion in Kashmir with the migration of Hindus, is finally witnessing a comeback.

The union human resource development (HRD) ministry is organising the first-ever workshop on the language in Srinagar.

"It was (union HRD minister) Kapil Sibal's idea. He nudged us to go to Kashmir since situation was normalising in the state," said Chaman Lal Sapru, president of the Hindi Kashmiri Sangam, a New Delhi-based organisation working on the promotion of the two languages.

The workshop has invited around 20 participants from seven non-Hindi speaking states such as Assam, Kerala, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh etc. The HRD ministry intends to sensitise Kashmiris about the language.

"Hindi is generally witnessing a decline. People feel it sub-standard to speak in Hindi. People outside India are desperate to learn Hindi for economic reasons but in Hindi's own country, people are shunning it," said Beena Budki, a resource person for the camp, who teaches Hindi in the United Arab Emirates.

The HRD's Hindi directorate has invited a number of local resource persons for the event. The week-long event has coincided with the National Hindi Day being celebrated across the country on September 14.

"Hindi is the language which keeps India intact," said Nizam-ud-Din, a retired professor who is among a few Muslims who teach and read Hindi in the Valley.

Kashmir's official language is Urdu but Hindi was very popular among Kashmiri Pandits. When the community migrated in 1990 with the outbreak of militancy in the state, Hindi witnessed a phenomenal decline.

Most schools stopped teaching Hindi in the 1990s with few teachers available in the valley. The militants also asked several schools to stop teaching Hindi for being a language from India.

First Published: Sep 14, 2012 18:00 IST