Tales of discrimination with Gujjars Bakarwals of JK!

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By: Shamsher Hakla Poonchi

Excluding Ladakh region, Gujjars and Bakarwals  live in nearly all areas of the state of Jammu and Kashmir including  in Poonch, Rajouri, Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Udhampur, Reasi, Ramban, Doda and Kishtwar Districts of Jammu Division and Srinagar, Badgam, Anantnag, Kulgam, Shopian, Kupwara, Bandipura, Pulwama  Baramula and Ganderbal Districts of  Kashmir Division.

Broadly speaking, there are two sects of Gujjars  in Jammu and Kashmir   viz. Gujjar and Bakerwal with the later comprising of about  10 lakhs in the whole state and Gujjar  about  24 lakhs. The total population of Gujjar Bakarwal in J&K therefore is about 34 Lakhs and the entire community belongs to the religion of Islam.

The problems and needs of Gujjars, Bakarwals are quite different from other communities as is their language and culture. That is why the community has its own peculiar position and a distinct identity.

Having said this, it is of paramount importance to understand that Gujjar Bakerwal community is largely still politically, socially, educationally, economically lagging behind and remains backward.

The community mostly resides in far flung, hilly and mountainous areas near forests and on the Indo-Pak Line of actual control in J&K.

The spread of Gujjar Bakarwal electorate in the Assembly Constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir State are:

S. No. Name of Constituency %age of Gujjar Bakerwal Electorates
1. Karnah 32%
2. Handwara 28%
3. Kupwara 37%
4. Bandipura 28%
5 Uri 38%
6 Kangan 40%
7 Ganderbal 27%
8 Shopian 30%
9. Kulgam 32%
10 Pahalgam 33%
11. Shongas 32%
12 Kukarnag 30%
13 Doru 31%

Jammu Division  Assembly Constituencies %age of Gujjar Bakerwal  electorates

S.No Name of  Constituency %age of Gujjars Bakerwal Electorates
1 Inderwal 37%
2 Baderwah 25%
3. Ramban 33%
4 GulabGarh 43%
5. GoolArnas 41%
6 Reasi 31%
7 JandrahGharota 28%
8. Billawar 28%
9 Kathua 26%
10 Akhnoor 28%
11 Nagrota 36%
12 Kalakote 37%
13 Nowshera 28%
14 Darhal 64%
15 Rajouri 50%
16 Mendhar 57%
17 Surankote 50%
18 Haveli 41%

Recognizing their backwardness, government 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 as their participation in the state politics is concerned under scheduled tribe status norms, there should have been reservation of assembly segment and Lok Sabha Segments for Gujjar Bakarwal in the state but it did not happen anywhere in the state. It is a clear indication that the state government has done a great injustice to this community.

Furthermore, in the state of J&K there are 31 state assembly segments and 2 Lok sabha segments which are inhabited by Gujjar Bakarwal and as such such segments should have been reserved for Gujjar Bakarwal long ago. But, due to indifferent attitude of the government, the Gujjar Bakarwal community stands deprived of such political rights. It would be appropriate to mention here that all the efforts made by government of India for the development and welfare of Gujjar and Bakarwal community of J&K state have been deliberately obstructed by the state government for the past many decades which resulted in their utter political, social and economical backwardness.

The writer is a prominent Scholar, writer and intellectual and can be mailed at [email protected]

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