Gujjar scholars demand inclusion of Gojri in Eighth Schedule, seek research centres for development of language

Jammu: Gojri, a tribal language spoken by nearly two million Gujjars, deserves more attention from the government, scholars from the community said on Sunday, demanding its inclusion in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.

Scholars and writers from the community discussed the issues the language faces in its development at a meeting in Jammu organised by the Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation.

The foundation said a Gojri research centre should be opened at the University of Jammu and a Gojri department at the University of Kashmir to promote the language.

During the meeting, seven resolutions were adopted. The demands included that the tribal language be included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution and airtime should be set aside for it on public broadcasters like Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR).

Gujjar scholar Javaid Rahi said the participants at the meeting called for introducing Gojri language in schools, its recognition by the Sahitya Akademi in New Delhi.

They demanded that the Gojri-speaking people be declared an ethnolinguistic minority, Rahi said.

Maintaining that Gojri was one of the most spoken tribal languages in northwestern India — with more than two million speakers, Rahi said it deserves more attention from the government and non-governmental organisations for development.

He said Gojri’s influence as a cultural language was continuously increasing due to growing consciousness among Gujjars, Bakerwals and other communities who speaks it.

Gujjars — the main speakers of Gojri — live in 12 states of northwestern India. They have been listed as tribals in Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, while in 10 other states they have been categorised under the Other Backward Classes.

The community is “fighting vigorously” for its inclusion in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution, Rahi said.