New laws will empower Gaddis, Gujjar-Bakerwal of J&K: Rahi

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, Nov 22: “The countrywide laws – including The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act, 2006, popularly known as the Forest Rights Act -which made applicable into Union Territory of J&K through an Act of the Parliament of India titled “Jammu and Kashmir Re-organisation Act, 2019″ on 5th of August 2019 will not only empower tribes but it would develop a sense of confidence among suppressed communities especially Gujjars -Bakerwals”.
This was stated in a meeting of tribal held here under the banner of Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation. The programme was presided over by noted tribal scholar Dr Javaid Rahi.
In his address Dr Javaid Rahi stated that implementation of central laws in terms of tribal communities is a historic step to correct the discrimination, injustice meted out to tribal people and forest dwellers since last many decades.
He said the Forest Right Act gave back to traditional forest dwellers their rights to freely access, independently manage and govern forest lands and all other resources related to forests, within village boundaries, which had been controlled by the Forest Department of erstwhile State of J&K.
He said that Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation has formulated a programme to help tribes / nomadic groups especially Gujjars Bakerwals to fill up their individual/ community claims.
He said this is a biggest relief that under the said Forest Rights Act , rights of traditional forest dwellers are stand protected against forced displacements, evictions from forest lands which the Gujjars, Bakerwals, Gaddis were facing for the last many decades. They are now entitled to use minor forest produce except timber, access to water resources besides they will now have grazing rights on Forest lands, as well.
He said that a major chunk of these tribals of JK are landless, shelterless entitled for dwelling rights on forest lands which they were using and managing as traditional inhabitants since centuries together.
He hoped that FRA will be implemented rapidly in the UT as the same was extended to J&K after 14years of its implementation across India.
The speakers expressed gratitude to the Chief Secretary of Jammu and Kashmir B V R Subrahmanyam for giving deadlines to departments to formulate four-tire committees to settle claims of Tribes of Jammu and Kashmir.