Gujjar-Bakerwal students protest against proposed move on ST status to Paharis

Gujjar-Bakerwal students protesting at Jammu on Monday.
Gujjar-Bakerwal students protesting at Jammu on Monday.

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, Oct 3: Opposing demand of Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to Pahari speaking people, tribal students from Gujjar, Bakerwal and Gaddi Sippi community staged a protest here today.
A number of Gujjar-Bakerwal students from different colleges of Cluster University Jammu and University of Jammu joined the protest at JU campus. Protest call was given by tribal students studying in different institutions in Jammu and claimed to be not affiliated to any political party.
Protestors were holding placards with slogans against the inclusion of `elites’ in ST category. They appealed the Government of India not to concede the demand of Pahari speaking people dilute status of Schedule Tribes in Jammu and Kashmir.
The protestors marched towards Divisional Commissioner office Jammu and submitted a detailed memorandum requesting the Div Com to forward copies of the same to President, Prime Minister and Home Minister of India. They requested the Government of India to do justice with the tribals of Jammu Kashmir and not to include any `undeserving, elite and privileged’ community in the Scheduled Tribe list.
In their memorandum, the protesting youth claimed that the Pahari People were not defined categorically by any historical, sociological or anthropological research and their whole movement was based on lies and propagandas. “They have treated tribals like second class citizens since centuries in the region and with the help of reservation a small percentage of people came in the mainstream and joined various job sectors which these Paharis cannot digest. These Paharis have ruled the region since recent past and were very influential during Dogra regime too. They were tax collectors and Gujjar- Bakerwals used to do manual jobs on their orders. Gujjar Bakerwals make up more than 40 percent of the total population in the Pir Panjal region and even today they do not control more than 10 percent of the economic affairs in the area,” they said.
Alleging that BJP was playing vote bank politics with both tribals and non tribals by making false and illogical promises, the protesting students threatened to knock the doors of courts and intensify protests to oppose the ST status to Paharis, who are already enjoying 39 percent reservation under various categories like RBA, ALC, OBC, EWS etc under J&K Reservation Rules right from 1994 till date.