SHILLONG: To press for the immediate inclusion of the Khasi language in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, the Khasi Authors’ Society (KAS), in alliance with several prominent leaders and pressure groups, staged a protest in New Delhi, on Saturday.
Brandishing banners with messages such as “Respect the sentiment of the Khasis by including Khasi language in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India”, the group of demonstrators include notable figures including Minister in-charge of Arts and Culture, Paul Lyngdoh, Law Minister Ampareen Lyngdoh, Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Minister AL Hek, and State Planning Board chairman Metbah Lyngdoh.
The KAS, under the leadership of President Dr DRL Nonglait, received substantial backing from various pressure groups, including the Khasi Students Union, Federation of Khasi Jaintia and Garo People, Hynniewtrep Youth Council, and several others.
Offering a historic perspective, Paul Lyngdoh emphasised the uniqueness of the Khasi language. “The language possesses its script and remains one of the few surviving Austro-Asiatic languages,” he told the press.
Furthermore, Ampareen Lyngdoh highlighted that the Meghalaya government had already recognised the Khasi language as its associate language back in 2005. She went on to assert that the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly, in the fiscal year 2017-18, even passed a resolution seeking the Centre’s acknowledgment of the Khasi language.
Expressing concern over the Centre’s continuous queries and delays despite the state’s consistent provision of the necessary documents, she said, “Our language is at the threshold of being recognised, but without the necessary amendment to the Eighth Schedule, our rich language faces the risk of extinction.”
The protest, according to KAS leaders, is only the beginning of a broader national movement to achieve this demand. They pointed out the language’s cultural significance, its matrilineal roots, and its standing as an associate official language in Meghalaya. They argued that it is imperative to ensure its recognition at the national level, particularly when less developed tribal languages have already been included.
Meanwhile, in a bid to fortify the demand, the Khasi Students Union mounted banners across Shillong city, conveying a potent message to the Centre regarding the urgency of this inclusion.