Gujjar-Bakerwal organizations warn against ST status to Paharis

Leaders of Gujjar-Bakarwal organizations addressing a press conference at Jammu on Monday.
Leaders of Gujjar-Bakarwal organizations addressing a press conference at Jammu on Monday.

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, Oct 3: The Jammu & Kashmir Gujjar Bakerwals Organisations Coordination Committee has threatened serious consequences if the Government of India grants Scheduled Tribe status to Pahari speaking people in the Union Territory.
Addressing a press conference, here today, Convener of the Coordination Committee, Advocate Anwar Choudhary said that the positivity among Gujjar-Bakerwal for the BJP Govt because of steps taken for upliftment and betterment of the community will get neutralized if Scheduled Tribes status is granted to the Paharis.
“We appeal to the Union Home Minister Amit Shah to alley the apprehensions of the Scheduled Tribes of Jammu & Kashmir that ST status of the Gujjars, Bakerwals, Gadis & Sippis’ shall not be diluted by including any other section of people in the category of ST in J&K,” he said.
BJP leader Arshad Choudhary, who was also present in the press conference, said it appears that sinister moves are afoot to create a counterpoise to the just hopes and aspirations of the Gujjars and Bakerwals and weaken the nationalistic forces in the UT of J&K.
“Recent developments and reports in a section of media all indicate that the non-existent Paharis and their self-styled leaders having connections at right places in the J&K establishment have joined hands to convince the authorities in J&K and New Delhi to their spurious and unjustifiable claim to ST status so that they could share the benefits Gujjars, Bakerwals, Gadis and Sippis, have been getting since April 1991,” he said, adding that Paharis were already granted 04 percent reservation in job sector and they are also enjoying 39 percent reservation under different heads i.e RBA, ALC, OBC, EWS & Other Social Caste etc.
Making the point that the Paharis don’t deserve ST status, Anwar Choudhary said that the various Commissions and committees appointed by the successive Governments in J&K, including the Gajendragadkar Commission, the Sikri Commission, the Wazir Commission, the Anand Commission not even once referred to the non-existent Paharis as a tribal group.
“Language has never been the criterion for granting ST status in India,” he said and added that any move on the part of the authorities in J&K and at the Centre to grant ST status to the Paharis would create serious problems in the border-belt in Jammu and parts of Kashmir.
Those who were present in the press conference, included Bashir Ahmed Noon, Mushtaq Choudhary Khatana, Ch Rehmat Ali, Sardar Khan, Shoukat Gujjar and others.