LAHORE - Representatives of nearly a dozen organisations have organised a one-day hunger strike in the city to protest discrimination against the Punjabi language.

Addressing the demonstrators outside Lahore Press Club on Friday, Punjabi Parchar President Ahmad Raza demanded the government of taking practical steps to make Punjabi official language in the country’s most populous province.

"Article 251 of the constitution binds the provinces to adopt necessary measures for promotion, teaching and usage of regional languages but Punjab government has not taken any step in that direction and has not adopted measures to teach Punjabi in schools," Raza stated.

The government still got time to take notice of this issue, he said, adding "Punjabi Parchar demands adoption of Punjabi as a medium of instruction till the primary level in schools and as a compulsory subject till graduation. We want a bill to be taken up in Punjab assembly for the promotion of Punjabi."

Prof Tariq Jatala, the secretary general of Punjabi Parchar, said experts around the world have realised the importance of mother tongue in early education and Unesco has also emphasised this, but the Punjab government is deliberately keeping students in the dark by not teaching the language.

Besides Punjabi Parchar, Punjabi Adabi Board and Punjabi Khojgah are also struggling to get official status for the language.

Later, activists from these organisations held a protest rally from Lahore Press Club to Punjab Assembly in which a large number of teachers, students, and members of civil society took part.

At reaching the Faisal Chowk, poet Baba Najmi stressed on making the poetry of Punjabi Sufi saints part of curriculum. He said that extremism could not be eliminated until new generation get to know the Sufi teachings of peace. Actor Rashid Mehmood, on the occasion, drew the government attention towards the Supreme Court’s order for promotion and implementation of Urdu (as official language in the country) and other regional languages.

Other key speakers included Rana Abdul Majeed Khan, Khalil Ojla, Kashif Hussain, Ghazala Nizamud Din, Iqbal Qaiser, Tahira Sara, Dr Zaheer Wattoo, Prof Ibad Nabil, Prof Karamat Mughal, Ziaullah Sara, Babar Jalandhari.