Jammu Tawi, April 30
Fearing evictions, the members of Gujjars and Bakerwals tribal communities of Jammu and Kashmir today stated that forests are an integral part of their history, culture and socio- ethnic practices, since centuries. Speaking a function organised by Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation, held here, they appealed, to rehabilitate and develop the nomadic tribes without interfering into their culture. Presided over by noted tribal researcher, Dr Javaid Rahi , the programme was attended by the representatives of Gujjars drawn from different areas of J&K. Dr. Javaid Rahi, in his address, stated that jungles are an inseparable part of Gujjars and Bakerwals life, culture and economy. He said, being a animal raring community their dependences on forests is indivisible from their livelihood and day to day affairs. They are practising the forests as their home and shelter since centuries and any such exodus of community will affect reversely on their traditions and heritage which is serving more than 5000 years against all odds. “We live in constant fear to lose our livelihood , as in view of a number of government orders directing us to leave jungles, so we are expecting displacements ,” says one of the speaker belongs to nomads group of community. Most of the part of the indigenous culture of our tribe will have adversely affected, he argued. Our relationship to ancestral traditions and ways of living must be retained alive and we have to fight against all those who are hell bent to throw us out from forests forcefully other speakers said. They demanded the adaptation of a national model to develop “forest villages” for tribal and nomadic groups of Jammu and Kashmir on the prototype of other Indian states and extension of the National Conservation Act, 1980 and Forest Rights Act 2006 to the state for the constitutional rehabilitation of their tribe in the areas belonging to them since centuries.