Srinagar, Jan 7: In present time, you will find most of teenagers squandering hours on social media purposelessly, wasting their time in observing the lives and images of their peers, however, the same doesn't go for Touqeer Ashraf.
Touqeer, a resident of Gusoo village in South Kashmir's Pulwama district, uses social media platforms to overcome barriers of distance and time and thereby works for promotion of Kashmiri language.
Touqeer took to social media in October 2021 to promote his mother tongue and till now has garnered lacks of followers on different social media platforms. His Instagram page alone has 96,000 followers and every video he uploads gets thousands of views.
He runs a page namely Keashur Praw (Kosher means Kashmiri, Praw means let's read or learn) on different social media platforms on which he uploads Kashmiri poetry of various Sufi poets with English translation, aiming to promote Kashmiri language. He uploads the poetry of various famous Kashmiri poets, Sheikh-ul-Alam, Rasul Mir, Shams Faqeer, Wahab Khaar and others.
Besides poetry, he uploads proverbs and Kashmiri riddles with translation, which young generation is not familiar with.
Touqeer did his schooling from his native village and was zealous about preservation and promotion of his mother tongue since childhood.
A voracious reader of Kashmiri poetry, Touqeer is presently pursuing his Masters in Geology from Kashmir University. He said though the time passed and I am grown up now, but the fervour towards promotion and preservation of his language is same as it was in his childhood.
"From college days, I was planning to do something for promotion of my mother language, but didn't know how to do it. As time passed, reasons dawned upon me why not to create a page by which I can do something for my language. I started to work on it in October 2021 and in the beginning I got little response from people, but as the time passed, I witnessed tremendous response from people," said Touqeer.
"We love and respect our Kashmiri poets, but we are unable to understand their poetry. Kashmiri is our identity and we will cease to be Kashmiris if we continue to treat our mother tongue the way we have been treating," he said.
He said he feels elated when he sees tremendous response from viewers. "It feels good when I see my efforts proving fructifying and I get even more excited when I receive messages from non-natives expressing their willingness to learn Kashmiri," he further said.
"Over 40 per cent of the world's approximate 7,000 languages are at the risk of disappearing with many having already disappeared completely or partially. I don't want Kashmiri to be among the list of disappeared languages. Therefore, I am putting my best efforts to preserve it," he added.
He said there is a dire need of promoting the Kashmiri language and we should be to inculcate the habit among the children to speak Kashmiri rather than Urdu or English.
"The speakers of Kashmiri language are dwindling day by day. Generally, people from Kashmir have completely disowned their mother tongue and don't allow their kids to learn and speak Kashmiri. They think it is much beneath their social status to teach their children their mother tongue. They deem it inferior and unfit for their kids to speak in Kashmiri language," he said.
"Learning different languages is appreciable and I am not against learning more and more languages but it must not happen at the cost of abandoning our mother tongue," he opined.
"The irony is that well-educated Kashmiri parents should have been the custodians of their language, but to our consternation their so-called education is making them destroyers of the same. Our apathy towards our mother tongue is confined to our homes only, but many educational institutions have almost completely prohibited the use of Kashmiri as a medium of communication," he said.
He said it is the responsibility of every Kashmiri to promote the Kashmiri language so that the 'Kashmiri', the soul of the Kashmir culture, will be preserved till eternity.
"Losing one's language means losing the culture. If the language of any community disappears and is no more used, the culture of that community will naturally disappear," Touqeer concluded.