The Gujjars of Jammu and Kashmir today pleaded that state government must constitute a high level committee immediately to prepare a position paper on the current socio-economic, health ,educational and ethno-cultural status of tribal communities of the State. The community members while participating in programme organized here by Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation, here, stated that only such committee can suggest policy initiatives as well as effective outcome-oriented measures to improve development indicators and strengthen public service delivery to STs especially Gujjars and Bakerwals -the main schedule tribe groups.
The event was presided over by noted Gujjar scholar and Researcher Dr. Javaid Rahi and attended by community dignitaries, scholars and students .
Dr. Javaid Rahi , in his presidential address stated that as per 2011 census data , more than 80 percent population of Gujjars and Bakerwals are reeling under the darkness of illiteracy. Further, the tribal economy of Gujjars is about squash as the nomadic communities are facing tremendous threats from all sides and only a high level committee can collect accurate information about the socio-economic, educational and health status of our tribal population which will help the J&K govt to design better schemes for their benefit, he said.”
He said that the issues of involuntary displacement of nomadic tribes due to militancy ,imposition of restriction on forest and Govt lands , constraint on pasture and bi-annual seasonal migration in strategic and border areas by security forces , rapid
The other speakers stated that a large chunk of Gujjar – Bakerwal population have no access to education and health services, bank credit, and other services provided by the government/public sector entities for tribal and only innovative schemes can pave a way to address the problems of nomadic tribes. They said that govt. should initiate a process to form a committee or a commission to suggest measures in the backdrop of changing soci- economic and educational scenario.
The speaker demanded that more legislation are to be extend national Acts to J&K’s which empowers tribal communities like Prevention of Atrocities Act, Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, the Forest Rights Act and the Food Security Acts and others, as in J&K trbal communities have no special rights.
Those who spoke on the occasion, includes Dr Ashraf Chouhan, Mohammad Mushtaq, Ali Mohammad, Wazir Chechi, Mohammad Khadam Banya, Rafeeq Bajran, Ali Hussain Khatana, Bashir Bajad, Haneef Lodha and others.