Jammu, 16 November, 2022: The announcement of ST status to Pahari community of Rajouri & Poonch (Jammu) recently by Home Minister Amit Shah has created a stir between Paharis & people belonging to ST (Gujjars & Bakerwalas). While the members of the latter communities has been protesting against the move from past several months. It fears that the sizeable Pahari-speaking population, if granted the ST status, will eat up their share in government employment and higher education.
The community argues that Pahari-speaking people are economically and socially better than them.
Conversing with the media the BJP ST Morcha President Mrs Parvaz Gujjar said that the rights are suppose to be given and should not be snatched from those people who since decades have been living on the margins of society.
“We seek protection and grant of rights. We are not here to snatch rights of people. There are 744 communities in India who have been given ST status and now there are four more including Paharis who will get ST reservation as recommended by ‘G.D Sharma Report”, Mr Iqbal Malik said.
He further said that the ST commission only suggests inclusion of communities and didn’t support exclusion of others on any basis.
“There are people from Gujjar community who have become so privileged using the benefits granted by ST and many Paharis are still struggling for basic things. The condition of Bakerwal community is poignant and the people of Gujjar community are doing well”, he asserted.
Mrs Parvaz Gujjar added that the literacy rate of (Gujjars&Bakerwals) is very low compared to Paharis and a ground report based on the former should be made to know the facts.
“Approximately seventy percent of people from gujjar community go to Saudi Arab for work, where they work as labourers for their bread & butter and bakarwalas remain back at home in J&K rearing their livestock from whom they earn. My people are like that they hardly study, even if someone tell them to study they will show less interest. Now, tell me how they can compete with the pahari people who are well-off”, she said.
She added that many paharis (Hindus &Muslims) also go to Arab countries to earn good money.
“I have no grudges against my Pahari brethren but ST reservation should be given to those who deserve it”, she said.
Mr Iqbal Malik said that Mrs Parvaz have been creating confusion over the identities of the communities as according to him there are three communities that is (Gujjars, Bakerwalas & Paharis). Bakerwalas are less privileged than the former two and paharis also have grazing fields (dhoks) like gujjars where they visit and keep their animals.
“Bakerwalas migrate seasonally and others don’t”, he said.
The tussle between the Pahari-speaking people and the Gujjar-Bakerwal began gaining momentum when Home Minister Mr Amit Shah recenlty announced ST status in favour of Paharis in public gathering held at Rajouri last month.