‘Paharis don’t deserve ST status’

Gujjar-Bakerwal leaders during a press conference at Press Club, Jammu. -Excelsior/Rakesh
Excelsior Rakesh

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, Dec 8: All J&K Gujjar-Bakerwal Organizations’ United Front (AJKGBOUF), Jammu today said that the Paharis don’t deserve ST status as various commissions and committees appointed by the successive Governments in J&K, including the Gajendragadkar Commission, the Sikri Commission, the Wazir Commission, the Anand Commission not even once referred to the non-existent Paharis as a tribal group.
Addressing a press conference here today, Advocate Anwar Chowdhary (convener of the Front) said that the census reports of 1941, 1961, 1971, 1981 also didn’t refer to the so-called Paharis as a distinct tribal group and the BJP-led NDA Government too in 2002 rejected outright the unjustifiable claim of the so-called Paharis to ST status, saying the laid down rules didn’t allow any such status to them.
“Even their claim to the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) status was never considered tenable and lawful by the successive governments in J&K and even by the Backward Classes Commission rejected their demand seeking OBC status, he further said. Further dismissing their claim to the ST status, the Gujjar- Bakerwal leaders said that the entire J&K, barring parts of Kathua and Samba districts in Jammu, is hilly and mountainous, and asked how could the well-entrenched so-called Paharis demand ST status.
“Language has never been the criterion for granting ST status in India as per the recommendation of Kaka Kalelkar Commission constituted by the Government of India in 1953 to identify the Tribal communities in the country,” they said, and added that any move on the part of the authorities in J&K and at the Centre to grant ST status to the non-existent Paharis, would create serious problems in the border-belt in Jammu and parts of Kashmir.
Those present in the press conference were Advocate Shah Mohd Choudhary (president J&K Gujjars United Front), Arshad Choudhary (executive member, BJP Jammu), Shamim Akhter (Member DDC, Dansal), Ch Rehmat Ali (Chairman BDC Nagrota), Sardar Khan (president International Gujjar Mahasabha J&K), Shoukat Gujjar (president All J&K Gujjar-Bakerwal Federation and many others.