The Khasi Author Society (KAS) on Saturday staged a protest in New Delhi demanding the Centre for the immediate inclusion of the Khasi language in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India.
Minister in-charge Arts and Culture Paul Lyngdoh, Law Minister Ampareen Lyngdoh, Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Minister AL Hek, State Planning Board chairman Metbah Lyngdoh were among leaders from the state who took active part in the protest.
The KAS led by its president Dr DRL Nonglait also got massive support from different pressure groups – Khasi Students Union, Federation of Khasi Jaintia and Garo People, Hynniewtrep Youth Council and others.
“Respect the sentiment of the Khasis by including Khasi language in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India” – read one the banners displayed at the protest venue.
Addressing the media, Paul Lyngdoh said, “I do not see any obstacles (why Khasi language should not be included in the Eighth Schedule). We fulfilled all criteria and in fact the language has a script of its own and is also one of the few languages from Austro-Asiatic languages that continue to survive till today.”
Ampareen Lyngdoh said the Meghalaya government in 2005 had declared the Khasi language as its associate language. In 2017-18, the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly had also passed a resolution and sent it to the Government of India to recognize and include Khasi language in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India.
“We have already fulfilled all the criteria. The Government of India from time to time has sent queries to the Government of Meghalaya whenever there are documents which were not sufficient or insufficient. The KAS because they are scholars have assisted the Government of Meghalaya to modify and to duly submit all documentation to be able to make us eligible as per criteria,” she said.
Questioning the undue delay of the Centre to fulfill this long pending aspiration of the Khasi people, Ampareen Lyngdoh said, “We have been informed that the Khasi language is now included in a list of about 38 languages that are already in line and eligible for recognition. What needs to be done is we need to amend the Eighth Schedule and we are putting pressure on the Government of India to recognize our language. In case if due recognition is not given, all our efforts will go down the drain and we fear an extinction of our rich language.”
KAS leaders said that the protest is the beginning of a mass national movement to achieve its demand.
“The Khasi language is the only Austro Asiatic language from the NE so it deserves to be recognized.
The Khasi community follows a very unique social system which is the matrilineal system. It is very rare in India. Its language, its culture and literature needs to be preserved, and needs to be encouraged and recognized by inclusion in the Eighth Schedule,” they said.
“We have all the criteria. We have prepared a documentation to be submitted to the central government wherein all necessary justifications are provided so we are hopeful and actually there is no reason why the central government should not recognize the Khasi language now,” the KAS leaders said.
“The Khasi language is an associate official language of the State of Meghalaya. Therefore, it deserves to be included in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution. It is a well developed language as it is being studied in schools, colleges and the universities. Many years before, it was even recognized by Calcutta University. It has produced many scholars and writers well known not only in the Khasi community but also nationally. It is high time that it be included in the Eighth Schedule. There are even less developed tribal languages that have been included so why not the Khasi language,” they further asserted.
Meanwhile, extending full support to the demand, the Khasi Students Union also put up banners across the Shillong city sending a strong message to the Centre not to delay inclusion of the Khasi language in the Eighth Schedule.