CHITRAL: The people of Chitral have threatened to boycott the upcoming census for omitting Kalash religion and 13 languages being spoken in the district from the enumeration form.

Addressing a press conference here the other day, representatives of Kalash community Advocate Nabaik and Luke Rahmat and spokesmen for different literary organisations including Dr Inayatullah Faizi, Advocate Mohammad Kausar, Inamullah and Mohammad Irfan said that exclusion of Kalash from the list of religions and that of local languages of Chitral sent shock waves across the district.

They said that in the form designed for enumeration in the census, only five religions were mentioned and Kalash was put under the head of ‘others’ for which ‘zero’ would be entered in the column of religions.

They said that Kalash were already endangered people and their exclusion from the data base of census would create complications for them. They said that absence of Kalash from the census would lead to confusion about the strength of those people, residing in three segregated valleys in Chitral.

“The proposal of declaring Kalash as the world heritage in the forum of United Nations twice in the past was turned down simply on the ground that the population of Kalash was present in the population census report of 1998,” they said. They added that the future of those backward people would remain bleak and blurred till they were recognised by the government.

They said that government should recognise and value the cultural diversity of Chitral as 14 different languages including Khowar, Gujari, Palula, Yidgha, Shina, Gawarbati, Bashgaliwar, Torwali, Balti, Broshaski, Gujali, Wakikwar, Sariquli, Damia and Kalashwar were spoken in Chitral.

They said that if Kalash religion and local languages were not included in the form of population census, then the people of Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan would boycott it and would also launch a protest movement.

Published in Dawn, February 28th, 2017

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