Gujjars demand law to ban conversion of grazing land

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, Apr 29: The Gujjar and Bakerwal Scheduled Tribe communities of Jammu and Kashmir today demanded that the grazing lands must not be converted for any purposes in the State.
They, while attending a programme organized by Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation held here today, on the topic ‘Tribes and land issues’ -stated that Government should come up with a law, immediately, and restrict conversion of grazing land, including its change of title/ownership of the land in the State.
“Such conversions are adversely affecting tribal migratory culture and nomadic way of life of STs who are already passing through tough times in J&K”, they stated.
The programme was presided over by noted Gujjar researcher, Dr Javaid Rahi while a number of tribal elders, youth and scholars attended the programme.
Dr Javaid Rahi in his address stated that Gujjars and Bakerwals are main animals rearing communities of the State and lakhs of nomads are solely dependent upon the grazing land. He said “grazing areas, pastoral land and other community resources belonging to a tribe/village/area or others may not be converted or vested to an agency or agencies for any type of usage.
Such changes can badly affect centuries old migratory traditions of Gujjars, Bakerwals, Gaddis, Sippis and Chanpas of Ladakh, he said. The grazing land must be used for animal rearing (Ghaa Chirai) only and should strictly kept for the tribal community’s use, the speakers said.
They said that grazing lands are shrinking fast due its rapid conversions for different purposes and a large number of tribal families who are entirely dependent on these lands are feeling helpless.