Gujjars seek development without affecting their migratory culture

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, Jan 14: The Gujjars- Bakerwals community members today impressed upon the Government to develop them without affecting their nomadic lifestyle.
They said this while participant in a programme orgainsed by Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation. The programme was presided over by noted Gujjar writer Dr Javaid Rahi and attended by elders of the tribal communities.
Dr Javaid Rahi, while speaking in the programme stated that there is a great apprehension that the tribal migration which is an inseparable part of Gujjar-Bakerwal culture will become a history of the past in next few decades as they feel suffocated in view of a number of restrictions.
He said that thousands of Gujjars-Bakerwals nomads already relinquished their centuries old nomadic life style and left meadows of the North-western Himalayas and settled in plains turned into unskilled migratory labourer or beggars.
He said new developmental programmes of Government can stop more decline in nomadic life.
The other speakers said that another reason of their non interest in nomadic life is -absence of “Disaster Management Polices’ for Tribal and pastoralist communities especially Gujjars- Bakerwals who suffer a heavy loss of lives and livestock due to landslide, forest fire, snow and hail storm, man-animal conflict every year.
They suggested that Government should formulate a sustainable plan to protect their nomadic identity by providing them education, healthcare, food security, social equality, economic stability,   justice, besides communications and other facilities without changing their way of life.
They further suggested that Government should formulate a disaster management policy for tribal and nomadic communities and the orders restricting the movement of Gujjars – Bakerwals in forest, Govt lands, border and strategic areas must be revoked immediately.
Since time immemorial Gujjars- Bakerwals migrate towards high reaches of Himalayan into the mountains to graze in the lush meadows in April every year. It may take them as many as forty days to reach these meadows. During the summer they move from one meadow to the other and start their back migration to plains in the month of October. They are Scheduled Tribe in J&K and constitute around 20 per cent of total population of State. Besides Jammu and Kashmir State, the nomadic Gujjars of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh are also facing identical problems, speaker said.


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