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Gujjars celebrate 26 years of Tribal status, demand more rights


Jammu, April 19, (Scoop News)-Celebrating 26years of schedule tribe status in State and Country the Gujjars of Jammu and Kashmir in a programme organsied by Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation projected that 10 percent reservation was not enough for them and they must be treated at par with the ST communities of India. They unanimously demanded equality, fairness, justice to their tribe and pressed to end discriminations with their tribe immediately.

These issues were highlighted by the community members in a gathering here today under the chairmanship of noted tribal researcher Dr. Javaid Rahi . The function was held in connection with completion of ’26 year of Reservation’ granted to Gujjars and Bakerwals of J&K under ST status on 19 April 1991 by Government of India and , the programme was attended by a number of tribal dignitaries, scholars and students.

Dr. Javaid Rahi, in his presidential address, stated that though ‘Reservation’ has significantly changed the Gujjars and Bakerwal Society since 1991 but a large chunk of tribal population is still illiterate, socialy and economically backward reeling under the grip uncertainty.

He said a large population of nomad Gujjars-Bakerwals are living below poverty line and they are not aware of the schemes operating by the state and central governments for their upliftment under Schedule Tribe category..
The speakers demanded the adaptation of a national model to develop "forest villages" for tribal and nomadic groups of Jammu and Kashmir on the prototype of other Indian states and extension of the National Conservation Act, 1980 and Forest right Act 2006 to the state for the constitutional rehabilitation of their tribe in the areas belonging to them since centuries.

They said said, optimistically speaking, it is only due to tribal status that the community has recorded considerable progress in all the field of life’. During last 26 years of reservation the J&K Gujjars produced 10 IAS/IPS, around 100 KAS/KPS officers but a lot of efforts are required to boost the community educationally, socially, economically and culturally,” they added.

Though 2 Cabinet Ministers, 10 MLAs/MLCs are representing the community but it requires grass root level socio political empowerment in the system,” the speakers of the programme observed.

The scholars said a large chunk of Gujjars and Bakerwals are still unattended and lagging behind due to extreme poverty, nomadic way of life, illiteracy and difficult geographical habitats. They said a lot of initiatives are required to end the sense of discrimination prevailing among them.

The scholar pleaded that the State Government and civil society should think optimistically towards the issues of tribal development.

Those who spoke on the occasion, includes Ashraf Chouhan, Ali Mohammad, Karam Din , Wazir Mohammad, Mohammad Banya, Shabnum Rafeeq Bajran, Ali Hussain Khatana, Bashir Bajad, Haneef Lodha and others.
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