Kunal Shrivatsa

Row over ST status- GBJAC halts ‘Foot March’ after HM’s assurance of protecting their existing rights

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JAMMU: The Gujjar Bakerwal Joint Action Committee (GBJAC) has decided to halt its 18-day long Foot March following the assurance from Union Home Minister Amit Shah that their existing rights of reservation as Scheduled Tribe (ST) will remain intact.

Welcoming central government’s assurance of bringing a legislation to safeguard the existing reservation quota for the Scheduled Tribes (STs) in J&K, the GBJAC end the protest march ‘for the time being’ and see ‘how things take shape in coming days.’

Addressing a press conference here today, Talib Hussain, chief spokesperson, GBJAC said that a delegation of the Committee met Union Home Minister Amit Shah at New Delhi and conveyed to him that non-Scheduled Tribes should not be included in the Scheduled Tribe quota meant for Gujjars, Bakerwals, Gaddis, Sippis and Baltis.

“Union Home Minister assured the delegation that the government is considering to bring a legislation on reservation quota for existing Scheduled Tribes including Gujjar-Bakerwal and others besides the fresh inclusion as STs including Paharis, Gadda Brahamns, Paddaris or Kolis,” said Hussain.

“Home Minister Amit Shah assured that 10 percent reservation to the existing STs will remain intact and the fresh inclusions as STs including Paharis would be accommodated in a separate block and having their own reservation quota after passing a bill in the parliament,” he added.

Hussain said that Shah assured that there will be complete protection of reservation quota for admissions in educational institutions, jobs and spaces already earmarked for Gujjar-Bakerwal community.

He further said that the Committee had certain apprehensions with regard to clubbing of non-Scheduled Tribe communities with the existing Scheduled Tribe communities, however, Union Home Minister’s assurance has helped in clearing such doubts to a greater extent.

“We thank the Union Home Minister for taking out time from his busy schedule and listening to our grievances. We are hopeful that the Union Government is seriously pursuing the case of Gujjar-Bakerwal community of Jammu & Kashmir and tribals of India at large. We request the government to not do any sort of injustice with the indigenous tribes of Jammu & Kashmir,” said Hussain.

“As of now we have halted our Tribal march, which took off on November 4 from Kupwara, after Union Home Minister’s assurance but further course of action will be decided by consulting all stakeholders. We will continue our deliberations with senior members of our community to discuss future courses of action,” he said.

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