Gujjars, Bakerwals allege dilution of ST status, demand implementation of Mandal Commission in J-K

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Jammu, Jan.20 (ANI): Gujjars and Bakerwals took out a cultural march with their cattle here on Wednesday to press their demand for implementation of the Mandal Commission report and to stop the Jammu and Kashmir Government from giving Schedule Tribe status (ST) to Pahari-speaking people.

Nomadic Gujjars and Bakerwals, who today form 30 per cent of Jammu and Kashmir's population, are protesting against its move to provide ST status to the Pahari speaking people of Rajouri, Poonch and Kupwara districts.

They also blamed the State Government for not implementing the Supreme Court's ruling to implement the Mandal commission report in the State, as some vested interests were not in favour of providing relief to the nomadic population.

"By holding a cultural march, we want to show what is our cultural and old heritage, what kind of people they (Gujjars and Bakerwals) are, and how they live. They are economically weak, educationally weak, and financially weak, politically weak and the people (Pahari), who are demanding that they should be given the Schedule Tribe status by diluting it are basically sound parties. And they don't want that SC, ST and OBC (Other backward Classes) should get benefit from it,"said R.K.Kalsotra, President of All India Confederation of SC/ST organizations.

These schedule tribes (Gujjars and Bakerwals) allege that state government has obliged the Paharis by recommending ST status for them to the central government without any basis. Moreover, Pahari as a language should not be considered basis for granting ST status, as this has never been considered a basis for granting the status in anywhere in India. They (Pahari) have come together with an intension to cause damage to the ST status of the Gujjars and Bakerwals.

"We are protesting today against Governments move to give St status to the princely people, land lords, and money lenders. This move to give St status is just a conspiracy to deny Gujjars and Bakerwals from its benefits. And Gujjars are the real Paharis as any one can survey in India to find that Gujjars live in mountains and follow nomadic life," said Mohd. Abdullah Chowdhary, a protestor.

Anxiousness started brewing among the nomadic Gujjars and Bakerwals of the state after Jammu and Kashmir government's recommendation to the Center to provide ST status to the Pahari speaking people. By Tahir Nadeem Khan (ANI)

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