Gujjars for national model to rehabilitate J&K tribes

Jammu, Jan 16 (PTI) The Gujjar-Bakerwal Schedule Tribetoday demanded the adaptation of a national model to develop"forest villages" for tribal and nomadic groups of Jammu andKashmir on the prototype of other Indian states and extensionof the National Conservation Act, 1980 to the state for theconstitutional rehabilitation of their tribe in the areasbelonging to them since centuries.

In an appeal to State Governor N N Vohra and ChiefMinister Omar Abdullah, the ST communities sought interventionof dignitaries for extension of legal provision in the statefor J and K tribes and pleaded vigorously for constitutionalsafeguards to rehabilitate in such forest villages lakhs ofnomadic and semi-nomadic Gujjar-Bakerwal population who areland-less, shelter-less and living below the poverty line inhilly and border areas of the Jammu and Kashmir.

The appeal was made through the Tribal Research andCultural Foundation, a Frontal organization of Gujjars.

Javaid Rahi, Secretary Tribal Foundation, said thatsince the Conservation Act, 1980 was not extended to Jammu andKashmir in the presence of article 370, nomadic communitiessuffered a lot owing to non-existence of a similar act forrehabilitation in Jammu and Kashmir or any other law.

The Gujjar-Bakerwal Tribe, he said, are still nomadicand are shelter-less and pressing hard for identical rightsavailable to all Schedule Tribe Communities of India for theirdevelopment and rehabilitation.

There are thousands of tribal forest villages in Indiadeveloped with the financial assistance of the Ministry ofTribal Affair, Government of India, in different states butnomads of J and K are without any such facilities in thestate.

The development of tribal forest villages on nationalpatterns can also be helpful in exploring forest tourismpotential in Jammu and Kashmir, Rahi said.

Such provision of rehabilitation will also help a lotin stabilizing tribal economy of Gujjars and Bakerwals, hesaid.

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