Gujjar and Bakerwal children -- the born labourers in J

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Jammu, Nov 13 (UNI) Children are born labourers in the Gujjars and Bakerwals nomadic community in Jammu and Kashmir.

A recent research has revealed that at least 74 per cent of Gujjar children between the age of 7 and 15 years are engaged in physical labour in the state.

The random study conducted by the Tribal Research and Cultural foundation revealed that the nomadic Gujjars (Buffalo keepers) and Bakerwals (Shepherds) are being exploited because of limited sources of household income.

Further, due to the nomadic nature of life they are also not in a position to get proper education and health facilities at an early age.

''The worst condition was of the children belonging to Ajjhari Gujjar and Manjhii Gujjar, 83 per cent of whom have not seen the doors of the school while rest 17 per cent are getting education in religious institutions,'' said Dr Javaid Rahi, national secretary of the Foundation.

He said the research revealed that 93 per cent high ups among nomadic communities prefer children from their community as domestic helps, thus depriving the unprivileged kids of their basic and constitutional rights.

''At least 17 per cent Gujjar children whose forefathers were bonded labourers, called Ajjhris, have inherited the same way of life,'' Dr Rahi said.

The children belonging to nomadic section of Gujjar tribe are put to physical labour at a very early age and about 37 per cent of them are working without any wages, he asserted.

''The unfortunate part of the survey is that neither the government nor any NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation) has ever brought this to light till date,'' he said.

Besides poverty and prevalent child labour, early marriage system and nomadic way of life have shadowed the future of Gujjars and Bakerwals, who reside in the most backward and mountainous areas of the state.

Even today, when some sections of society have attained 100 per cent literacy, the same in Gujjars and Bakerwals in the state is very low. ''The literacy among women folk of the nomadic community is almost zero,'' Dr Rahi said.

The survey further revealed that the Centre-sponsored ''Balika Simridhi Yojna'' did not benefit the tribal Gujjar female child at all, which had made them more backward.

However, 13 Gujjar hostels and 400 mobile schools are in the state.

UNI

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