Srinagar, Sep 17 (IANS) Ever since Jammu and Kashmir got the status of Union Territory in 2019, the BJP government has taken historic measures for the people of the tribal and nomadic communities.
It is since then that the hopes of the ‘Pahari’ tribe living in Jammu and Kashmir have peaked. The Paharis are waking up with renewed enthusiasm that the long-standing demand for their inclusion in the Scheduled Tribe category will be fulfilled.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have dropped hints in this direction for the Pahari tribe, which has been suffering from stepmotherly treatment for the past 70 years.
In 1991, the Central government granted ST status to seven tribes of Jammu and Kashmir, including the Gujjar Bakarwals, but the Pahari tribe, which was first in the list, was deprived. Since then, the people belonging to the Pahari tribe have been pleading with the Centre to include them in the ST, but till date no government has paid attention to their plea.
Modi mentioning the Pahari tribe’s demands from the ramparts of the Red Fort and Shah’s assurance during a rally in Jammu have sparked a new wave of excitement among the community.
According to the All Jammu and Kashmir Pahari Cultural and Welfare Forum, governments from time to time assured them that their legitimate right to include the Pahari tribe in the Scheduled category would be granted in any case, but the reality is that their voices were not being heard.
Zafar Iqbal Manhas, a leader of the Pahari tribe and former MLC, said the youth of the tribe are facing a dark future due to the fact that they are deprived of their rights.
He said the Pahari youth are also suffering as this discrimination is affecting their mental health.
Talking to Milap News Network, Pahari leader Abdul Majeed Zindadil said that after the nomination of Ghulam Ali from the Gujjar tribe to the Upper House, he is convinced that the Modi government will fulfil the promise made to the Pahari tribe.
There is actually a lot of justification for giving ST status to the Pahari people. Data show that neither industries have been introduced nor any other means of gainful employment have been provided in the hilly populated areas. Due to lack of finances, Pahari people are often left behind in providing proper education to their children. This tribe has been suffering from economic, social, educational and even political degradation.
It is also a living reality that as a result of giving ST status to the Gujjar Bakarwal class, the Paharis are now losing jobs even in the lower categories.
Despite having the same standard of living in the same region, these people are left out of the system. In this situation, Modi has emerged as a ray of hope for them and the Pahari community is looking to him for justice.