Jubilation among Paharis on promise of ST status by HM

Jubilant Pahari people lit candles at Thannamandi town of Rajouri on HM’s announcement to grant ST status to them on Tuesday. - Excelsior/Imran
Jubilant Pahari people lit candles at Thannamandi town of Rajouri on HM’s announcement to grant ST status to them on Tuesday. - Excelsior/Imran

*Elated people lit candles, dance on drum beats
Gopal Sharma
RAJOURI, Oct 4: Jubilations gripped entire Rajouri-Poonch border belt of Pir Panjal region today after Union Home Minister, Amit Shah declared in a grand public rally at Rajouri town that Pahari community is all set to get ST status shortly as the Sharma Commission has recommended the same for them.
Thousands of Pahari community members, many of them bearing traditional turbans, thronged the venue of BJP rally today with the hope that Union Home Minister would make an announcement today during the rally about grant of ST status for which the community was struggling for decades. They met with no disappointment as the Home Minister publically declared today to grant them ST status, telling that the process may take a little time.
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At the same time the Home Minister also promised that Paharis will be getting long awaited justice but the share of Gujjar-Bakerwals would not be diluted. “They should not have an iota of doubt about it. The Commission has already recommended ST status for Paharis and process would be completed shortly,” the Home Minister promised the large crowd of Paharis at the Rajouri rally.
With the announcement of the Home Minister Amit Shah, jubilations among the Paharis started in the entire Pir Panjal region including Rajouri, Poonch towns besides Kandi, Budhal, Kalakote, Darhal, Thannamandi, Nowshera, Sunderbani, Surankote, Mendhar and Mandi area.
At many places, the Pahari people were witnessed celebrating the occasion as major victory and dancing on the drum beats. The sweets were also distributed to mark the occasion.
Not only this, the Pahari community people during late evening hours lit candles in markets of the major towns and also lighted their houses to express their happiness over the decision of the BJP Government to provide them much awaited justice. They expressed that after long struggle, ultimately the Modi Government has provided them some sigh of relief.
Shahbaz Khan, Pahari leader from Rajouri and chairman, Jammu Kashmir Pahari Peoples Movement while welcoming the announcement made by the Union Home Minister said that a wave of joy and happiness has gripped the entire Rajouri-Poonch belt. He said their struggle of over 30-35 years has brought the results today.
” It should have been done much earlier. This is the public announcement as yet made by the Home Minister but we have no doubt about his promise. We are quite hopeful that Paharis would definitely get justice from Modi Government,” a jubilant Khan said.
Referring to the celebrations in Rajouri and other towns in the region, Shahbaz said people distributed sweets and danced in the bazaars as they had already hired drum beaters apprehending good news for them in Amit Shah’s rally. The state BJP president, Ravinder Raina had already dropped a hint on the announcement of ST status to Paharis by Amit Shah. He said many people lit their houses and markets with candles. It appeared that people were celebrating Diwali festival in advance in Rajouri town tonight. Khan said similar reports were received from Darhal, Thanamandi, Nowshera etc.
Another Pahari leader, Tahir Manhas from Surankote town in Poonch said that people from his community are very happy with the announcement made by the Home Minister Amit Shah at Rajouri today. He said celebrations were witnessed at several places in Surankote area this evening. He said Paharis were never against the Gujjar and Bakerwal tribes. They are also living under same circumstances and topography and deserve same status as Gujjars are enjoying.
Manhas said Gujjar-Bakerwals were provided ST status about 40 years ago. Paharis should also get the same during that period. But due to political wrangles and lack of support, they failed to get justice for long. The then PM Atal Behari Vajpayee had declared in Kupwara rally to provide justice to the Paharis. But he could not become PM again due to bad luck of Paharis, otherwise, they would have achieved this much earlier.
” We struggled for 40 long years. Many political parties exploited Paharis as their vote bank. But we had only hope from the BJP for the reason that Late Vajpayee Sahib had assured us the justice. It is only public announcement by the Home Minister today. But people are fully confident that BJP does what it says. The Pahari people are satisfied and are convinced that they will ultimately get the ST status as soon as the process is completed by the Government.