The Meghalaya Assembly on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution to urge the Centre to include Khasi and Garo languages in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
The fresh resolution replaced the earlier resolution which was passed by the State Assembly on September 27.
The resolution was tabled by Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma in the House during the one-day special session on Tuesday. The one-day session was also one of the longest sitting. It began at 10 am and concluded at around 5.15 pm.
The Chief Minister said that though the resolution in this regard was passed on September 27 during the Autumn Session of the Assembly, but the State Government found that the contents of the resolution should be further strengthen, and in consultation with the Khasi Authors’ Society, and A’chik Literature Society, it was felt necessary to pass a fresh resolution to replace the earlier resolution.
Stating that Khasi and Garo have fulfilled criteria for getting included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution, the chief minister said, “we want both the languages to be included together to send a message of unity and one voice.”
Leader of Opposition, Mukul Sangma said that a team of dedicated officers should be formed to pursue the matter while demanding that necessary support should be provided to the two organizations – Khasi Authors’ Society and Achik Literature Society.
Independent MLA, S. K. Sun said that the two organizations should be recognized by the Government in the line of Sahitya Akademi as in the case of Konkani and Kannada languages.
Congress MLA Ampareen Lyngdoh said that language is the strength and identify of any race or community, and said that representatives from different political parties should be included if there is a need to raise a common voice.
According to the 2011 census, Garo at present has a language population of 936,496.
The Khasi Authors’ Society said that there are 14,31,344 people in India who speak Khasi.
In 2005, the Meghalaya Assembly had also passed the Meghalaya Language Act which recognized Khasi and Garo as the state’s associate official languages. But English continues to be an official language as no other language links the Khasi, Jaiñtia and the Garo communities.
Khasi, as a written language, has completed 176 years. It got due recognition from the Calcutta University up to the entrance level since 1900 and at the degree level since 1919 in that university. The language is being taught from the primary school level up to the PhD level.
The demand was raised nearly 58 years ago when a movement started against the imposition of Assamese as the official language during the then state of Assam, including the erstwhile United Khasi and Jaiñtia Hills district. What triggered the movement was promulgation of the Assam Official Language Act, 1960, which threatened to overshadow the Khasi and Garo languages.
The resolution said that the Khasi language has had its written script since 1842 by adopting the Roman alphabets as introduced by Thomas Jones with the help of Donrai and Junkha, the Khasi literates of that time.
The resolution also said that the course on computer concepts in Khasi language was also launched by the Meghalaya government on September 21, 2012 which aimed at introducing Khasi lingual into the present day technology and information.
Further, the resolution said that compilation of words of Garo language was first done by John Elliott, the Commissioner of Dacca in 1788-1789 which marked the beginning of the efforts to put the language into writing, and the Roman script has been adopted to write the Garo language with some modifications to represent the sounds of the language. All writings have been done in this script since the beginning of writing of the language in 1860s.
At the post graduate level, Garo language was introduced as a subject in 1996, and now M.Phil and Ph.D scholars are permitted to write their thesis in Garo language.
Stating that Khasi and Garo languages are ancient languages which have rich tradition which are unique and different from other languages in India, the resolution said, “Khasi and Garo languages are also medium of instruction up to higher secondary and higher education.”