After ST status to Paharis, others; Govt to include Valmikis in SC list

After Scheduled Tribe (ST) status for Pahari Ethnic Tribe, Paddari tribe, Koli and Gadda Brahman, the Government has decided to include Valmikis in the Scheduled Caste list of Jammu and Kashmir who were residing here since 1957-58 after shifting from Punjab but were denied genuine rights and reservation by the previous Governments on the grounds of Article 370 of the Constitution of India.

Union Ministry of Social Justice today approved the proposal of J&K Government to include Valmikis in the list of Scheduled Castes in the Union Territory. Social Justice Ministry of the Government of India, the proposal has been forwarded to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) for its opinion.

The Valmikis/Balmikis enjoyed reservation under Scheduled Caste category across the country but this section which migrated from Punjab to Jammu in 1957-58 and settled here was denied State Subject rights as well as reservation by all previous Governments in the erstwhile State.

The Valmikis were sent here by then Punjab Chief Minister Partap Singh Kairon on request of then head of the State of Jammu and Kashmir due to strike by the safai karamcharis.

However, they didn’t return to Punjab and settled here but were neither granted State Subject rights nor included in the SC reservation list causing enormous hardships to them as they couldn’t get the State Government jobs.

“It is largely this group that forms part of the community with spelling variations that is being sought to be included in the Scheduled Castes list,” the sources said.

They added that Valmikis/Balmikis enjoyed reservation across the country as well as States as they have been a known Dalit community but many of them remained omitted in Jammu and Kashmir because of special status of erstwhile State

Sources said inclusion of all castes/communities in the lists of SCs and STs in Jammu and Kashmir is likely to be taken up by the Cabinet after Gujarat elections and bill to this effect could be introduced in the Parliament during Winter Session starting December 7.

As already reported, based on recommendations of Justice GD Sharma Committee report, the Government has also added Pahari Ethnic Tribe, Paddari Tribe and Koli & Gadda Brahman for accord of Scheduled Tribes (ST) status. The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes has already cleared the proposal.

Gujjars and Bakerwals in Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed ST status and the Government has clarified that their rights will not be diluted.

Paddari tribe is settled mostly in Paddar area of Kishtwar district which is one of the remotest areas in erstwhile Doda district. However, Koli & Gadda Brahmans are spread in different areas. Paharis are mostly based in twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch in Jammu region and Baramulla and Kupwara in Kashmir division.

Nine seats in 90-member Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir have been reserved for the STs. Five seats are reserved for STs in Jammu division and four in Kashmir.

Jammu and Kashmir for a long time though such a reservation existed in Lok Sabha and Assemblies across the country. This was, however, after abrogation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir in August 5, 2019 that the Government extended political reservations to STs in J&K.Scheduled Castes have eight percent reservations in the Union Territory and, for them, seven seats, like earlier, are reserved in the Legislative Assembly. However, out of five, no Lok Sabha seat in J&K is reserved.