When Nazi led Germany occupied France in May, 1940, one of the many orders that came from Berlin was to discontinue teaching of French in schools of France. This was an indication and reminder that France was now to be ruled by a nationalistic, genocidal and anti-Semitic party called as The National Socialist German Workers party commonly known as Nazi party. Language holds a special position in culture, it’s roots are firmly connected to the culture. It represents your place and preserves history. Over the decades , the usage of Koshur in the valley has seen an abasement. The reasons to this are known. It’s being discouraged and declined by the administration and even by its native speakers, who at times refrain from speaking in it. A perception of elitism in other languages has been promoted so much that one will risk speaking a broken Urdu or English , instead of conveying in fluent Koshur.
This delusion of elitism has its roots in every sphere of our society. This is not random. In a territory, where most of the native speakers speak Koshur, the official language after English is Urdu, which most of us don’t know how to read or some of us don’t know how to speak. The deliberate attempt to deny Koshur the patronage of being Cashmere’s official language is deeply rooted in the occupation of our land and minds.
It is known to everyone, Koshur as well as Koshur culture is at the verge of extinction. Both of us are dying. The language has come to a point where most of us can not speak Koshur without throwing some English or Urdu words. We sway from one narratives to another regarding our own history. The self loathing is in favour of no nation let alone a nation which is giving its young and old blood to preserve its identity. The elite schools which discourage the use of Koshur and encourage mainland languages to throw an impression of elitism in the air, the history which is not taught in schools , the strands of culture which have started to fade from folk lore have contributed to further decline of our identity. Somehow we are responsible for this. Instead of insisting the children to learn and speak their mother tongue first, we are hell bent upon teaching them languages which will not benefit them at all. It would be travesty of my ideals to support imposition of any language whether that be Koshur but when a Policeman in Cashmere who is well versed in Kashmiri enquires from an old man or a young boy with a threatening tone in Hindi/Urdu , that is imposition of a language. The usage of the foreign tongue by a native speaker while addressing his native people throws an impression of segregation and in terms of conflict/threats it plays a psychological role to intimidate another person, since the other person can’t communicate properly with him.
For example, Urdu may be beneficial for a person who is going to India and Pakistan but it doesn’t even work in Bangladesh or Nepal. So what riches does it bring to the child.
For one to have learnt another language is always goodish but at the cost of degrading your own mother tongue is childish and appalling. It’s not the language that is heading to its supernova but the history which almost nobody knows about. The education department which has refrained itself from teaching Cashmeree history since seven decades , has started to emphasize on the situation of Koshur language. But , history as always will be ignored. Why not allow the children to discover their roots? Why not encourage them to read their own history? Is the education supposed to be selective?
I don’t subscribe to the notion that schools should teach only one side of the history but both narratives should be taught and then they should be allowed the liberty to form their own opinions regarding it. That’s justice. Denying them the right to learn their own history is criminal. A history which has hardly any Kashmiri in it, how is that the history of Kashmir at all?. For now , the establishment will teach which will assist them in furthering, but its time to ask ourselves this question; Would we allow our language to rot and our history to fade in the abyss? and if we did , the freedom we so dearly cherish and desire will go to the gallows.
In the words of Alphonse Daude ,
when people are enslaved, as long as they hold fast to their language it is as if they had the key to their prison.
Belittling that what defines and unites us, whether that be language or history, is lavishness we should not afford. Lets come to a conclusion where we revisit ourselves and rediscover what being a Koshur means.
*The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the position of our platform.*