Thousands of Khasi people took part in a march in Shillong on Saturday to press for early materialization of the long pending demand to include the Khasi language in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
The march organised by the Khasi Authors’ Society began from Madan Ïewrynghep where thousands including students joined the rally. The processionists shouted slogans in support of the demand as they walked on the city roads up to Madan Malki.
At Madan Malki, various speakers delivered speech even as amid heavy rain lashed out few minutes after the processionists entered the venue of the rally.
Various organisations including churches, educational institutions, and political parties supported the demand.
Northeast Students Organization chairman Samuel B Jyrwa, president of the Khasi Authors’ Society, DRL Nonglait, scholars and academicians spoke on the delay of the Centre to recognize the Khasi language despite having been fulfilled all criteria laid down by the ministry of home affairs.
Khasi belongs to the Austro-Asiatic family in the Mon-Khmer group. It is widely spoken in Meghalaya and in parts of Assam and Bangladesh. The only language belonging to this family which has been included in the Eighth Schedule so far is Santali.
Commenting on the lack of political will, Nonglait said that there were no fixed criteria in as far as getting the language included in the Eighth Schedule is concerned.
“We have seen during the Bodo language movement in Assam, people came out to the streets and it was violent. We have seen in Goa also when Konkani language was under the consideration, there were many violent activities. So the government of India sees the sentiment of the people. But we the Khasis are peaceful people and we have been able to get statehood through peaceful agitation. Now also, when we move for inclusion of Khasi language peacefully but then, strategies of our movement cannot be revealed,” Nonglait said, while urging the state and the centre not to delay it anymore.
The rally in unison demanded that the centre should consider the inclusion of Khasi language in the Eighth Schedule in the upcoming session of Parliament.
According to the 2011 census, 14,31,344 people in India speak in Khasi. He also said that Khasi, as a written language, has completed 176 years. The language is being taught from the primary school level up to the PhD level.
The society demanded that a resolution should be tabled in the Assembly to urge the centre to include Khasi in the Eighth Schedule.
On Friday, the Meghalaya cabinet has approved the proposal of the political department to table a resolution in the Assembly and get it passed during the ongoing Autumn Session to urge the centre to include both Khasi and Garo languages in the Eighth Schedule.
The foundation of the demand was laid nearly 58 years ago when a movement had started against the imposition of Assamese as the official language in the then state of Assam, including the erstwhile United Khasi and Jaiñtia Hills district.
The promulgation of the Assam Official Language Act, 1960, which threatened to overshadow the Khasi and Garo languages triggered the movement and one of the results of the movement was the creation of Meghalaya as a state in 1972.
The Khasi Authors Society which was formed on September 11, 1979, has been working for strengthening the demand.
In 2005, the Meghalaya Assembly passed the Meghalaya Language Act which recognised Khasi and Garo as the state’s associate official languages. English continues to be the official language as no other language links the Khasi, Jaiñtia and the Garo communities.