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Will J&K on becoming a UT eradicate the plight of Gujjars Bakarwals of J&K?
Shamsher Hakla Poonchi11/17/2019 10:34:38 PM
I too belong to Gujjar Bakarwal tribe of J&K. I have very closely seen the poverty and being a member of this tribe I have personal experience of manifold hardships and difficulties of these peoples including myself. This state of affairs compelled me to use my pen to display it to public and government administration.
Gujjar Bakarwal tribe of J&K is a sum total of warlike tribes and is a grand old tribe. That is why this tribe has its own peculiar position and it has its own identity, customs and a unique way of life. The needs and the problems, language and the culture of this tribe are quite different from other communities of J&K. Gujjar Bakarwals are of fair complexion, long nose and tall, long head and wide forehead. All the Gujjar Bakarwals residing in Jammu and Kashmir belong to Islam religion. These people hold fast to their religion but their outlook is secular and have always been honest, gentle, brave, patriot and hospitable and have always been nationalists. They have a history of fighting the enemy.
During the tribal invasion in J&K in 1947, Gujjar Bakarwal fought against Qabalis (Tribal) and defeated them. In 1965 they drove off Pakistan infiltrators during the Indo Pak war and again in 1971, Indo Pak conflicts and Kargil war fought between Indian and Pakistan in 1999, these people protected J&K state of India and defeated the evil designs of Pakistan with might and man. The role of this tribe against the militancy era in the last 30 years turmoil in J&K from 1989 to till date is also remarkable.
The Gujjar Bakarwal tribe has its habitation in 20 districts of J&K and mostly resides in hilly, far-flung and mountainous areas near forests and on the Indo-Pak LOC and International Border(IB) of J&K with the population of over many lakhs. This Tribe is economically, socially, educationally and politically backward.
The Gujjars of Jammu and Kashmir are divided in three tribes, settled, half settled and unsettled nomadic.
1. Settled Gujjars are those who are settled at one place and staying in villages and they do agriculture pursuits and live with their animals like Buffaloes, cows, goats and sheep. The settled Gujjars at present have started improving in educational, social and economical sectors.
2. Half settled Gujjars are those who though live in villages and do agriculture profession and live with their animals like Buffaloes, cows, goats and sheep. For six months of summer season, the half settled Gujjars go to the heights of hills, mountains and for winter months they move down to the plains.
As far the life of settled and half settled Gujjars of J&K, is concerned, they construct their houses permanently and stay in them but they do agriculture and after winter months, they leave for hill & mountains of Jammu and Kashmir along with their belongings as there they can have sufficient grazing fields for their cattle. These people's way of life is different from Bakarwals. In all fields of life, Mostly, their houses are constructed of mud which are called 'Kotha".
3. Nomadic Gujjars are (landless and Homeless) can be divided in two tribes, dodhi Gujjars and Bakarwal Gujjars. First tribe of Nomadic Gujjars is known as "Dodhi" or "Banyara" Gujjars. These people keep buffaloes and lead a nomadic life. In winter season, these people stay in Reasi , Udhampur and Kathua Districts of J&K India lower areas some Dodhi Gujjars go up to Jammu Distt. of J&K, Pathankot and Gurdaspur Districts of Punjab state also. When the summer sets in, these people start moving to the heights of Mountains where green grass is available sufficiently for their cattle. They sell milk and ghee for their sustenance. In this unsettled life it is very difficult for those people to educate their children. So these people cannot compete with other communities in the field of education and are far behind in respect of education of centuries, in the laps of hills and on the banks or rivers.
The nomadic Bakerwals:- Most of the Bakarwals are homeless and landless wan,dering in the open. They do not have any house but only a tent and that tent is also made of several old pieces of cloth. Inside the tent there is family, tired and burdened by life's chores. Children are lying naked and crying. They have kept some handmade woolen clothes. One wonders if their hardships are known to the world. Their animals are scattered over the hills and can get killed by harsh climate. Bakerwals come under first line and are famous for their courage, bravery and hospitality. Bakerwals Gotras (sub caste) are same as that of Gujjars like Chauhan, Khatana, Hakla, Paswal, Bagadi, Jagel, Kalies, Sood, Kohli, Dhakkar, Thikria, Gegi, Mesi, Bajran, Kandal, Keela,Gorsi, Khari, Chenija, Chechi, Bajar and Kataria. Most of Bakerwals are nomads. They are migratory when they move from one place to another with their herds of sheep and Goat head of cattle and families. They move sect wise and live in pastures. Bakarwals are quite behind. During this period of science & technology, when communities are taking very active part in the developments, these people are lying far behind due to illiteracy and backwardness, because these people are living far away from the life of civilization on the heights of hills. They are also the victims of lack of self confidence, and did not proceed forward in the field of development along with other section of society. The benefits of education and other Govt. schemes have not reached them. They are also not well versed with the modern ways of looking after the cattle. Thus the way of living is of olden days and backward.
Mostly, each family keeps about 100 goats and 50 sheeps, 6 to 8 horses, 4-5 dogs and 2-3 hens. They leave six months of summer season for hills and mountains of Jammu and Kashmir state with their goats and sheep's where pastures are available to graze on. After winter months they leave for hills and mountains of J&K along with their belongings as there they can have sufficient plain area grazing fields for their goats and sheeps. Bakerwals are backward in comparison to the Gujjars. There are very few literate people among Bakarwals.
Gujjar Bakarwals dresses are different from the local people of Jammu And Kashmir. These are wonderful. The dress of Gujjars Bakarwals, of J&K is almost of one pattern. The dresses of these people are most probably same. They wear black and blue coloured clothes, Salwar and Qameez of blue, black and green colours. Some Gujjars wear trousers and loincloth (tehband) of the same colours. They wear turban of white or dark brown colour on their heads. These people wear the shoe of quite a strong type which is called "Jooti" or "Jorho" fixed with iron keels at the bottom and are quite weighty.
Gujjars Bakarwals possess their own Panchayat which is called "Jerga". This is a body comprising some , honest and responsible persons of the tribe. They decide their matters, keeping in view the welfare and prosperity of their tribe. Most of the litigations are based on grazing fields and women and the incidents of theft and murder are also being reported.
Gujjar Bakarwals tribe generally speaks Gojri language and their mother language is Gojri. Even passing through ups and downs of its history, the Gojri language continued to retain its originality and existence. Historians have different views about the coming of Gojri language in Jammu and Kashmir, but some historians and language experts agree that it came with the coming of Gujjar Bakarwals tribe.
The Previous J&K state govt.s had not taken any strong step for the welfare & upliftment of Gojri language. The Gujjar Bakarwal tribes have always demanded to Govt. for the inclusion of Gojri language in the 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution but the J&K state govt.s had not recommended it to the govt. of India for the inclusion of Gojri language in the 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution which is a great injustice to them. That is why Gojri language of Gujjar Bakarwals tribe has become a backward language.
Recognizing the backwardness of Gujjar Bakarwal tribe of J&K. Govt. of India granted scheduled tribe status to Gujjars Bakarwals under ordinance No. 03 of 1991 under article 342 of constitution of India on April 19, 1991, So far their participation in the state administrative and political setup of J&K is concerned under scheduled tribe status norms, there should have been reservation of assembly segment and Lok Sabha Segments for Gujjar Bakarwal in J&K but it did not happen any were in the J&K by previous J&K state Govt. It is a big injustice to Gujjar Bakarwals. Further more in J&K there are 31 (thirty one) state assembly segments out of 87 (eighty seven) assembly segment of J&K and 2 (two) Lok sabha segments out of 6 (six) Lok Sabha segments of J&K which are inhabited by Gujjar Bakarwal tribe, and such segments should be reserved for Gujjar Bakarwal tribe because of schedule tribe status but due to indifferent attitude of the J&K state Govt, the Gujjar Bakarwal tribe stands deprived of this political reservation right. It would be appropriate to mention here that all the efforts made by govt. of India for the development and welfare of Gujjar Bakarwal tribe of J&K , have been deliberately obstructed by the previous J&K state Govt.s headed by National Conference, Congress Party and Peoples Democratic Party for the past many decades which resulted in the utter political, Educational, social and economical backwardness of Gujjar Bakarwals tribe of Jammu and Kashmir.
The previous J&K state Govt.s ruling from 1947 to till date had not made any policies or schemes for the permanent settlement & upliftment of some of the unsettled and nomadic people of Gujjar Bakarwal tribe of J&K who have been living Unsettled ,Nomadic life from past to till date.
Most habitation areas of Gujjar Bakarwals tribe in Jammu and Kashmir are lacking in facilities like road communication, electricity, water supply schemes, medical facilities and educational facilities which put Gujjar Bakarwal tribe in lots of hardships and troubles. The previous J&K State Govt.s had not taken any concrete steps to solve their needs and problems and for their welfare and upliftment. The Gujjar Bakarwals tribe has always demanded to govt. for opening of boarding schools in all the district of J&K on the pattern of Nodya Vidyalaya for Boys and Girls student of Gujjar Bakarwal and also for establishing a tribal university in J&K for Gujjar Bakarwal students but the J&K State Govt. did not take their demand to the central Govt. of India. Because of being neglected & discriminated by previous J&K state Govt's the Gujjar Bakarwals tribe of J&K is unable to step ahead in the education sector.
The educated Gujjar Bakarwal youths of J&K are facing a large No. of unemployment during the present stage and this all is because of being neglected & discriminated by previous J&K state Governments.
In the past general census were conducted by the govt.during 2001 & 2011 in summer season but during that time, some of the Gujjar Bakarwals along with their families and livestock moves towards the hilly mountains(Dhoks) of J&K state and because of this reason, those census could not clearly describe the exact population of Gujjars Bakarwals in J&K.
So, now the Govt.should conduct a new special survey during the winter season, so that the exact population of Gujjar Bakarwal Tribe of J&K can be found.
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