The Ongoing Struggle for ST Status in J&K: A tale of hope and chaos among Phari,Gujjar communities
By: Suman Lone
In recent times, the granting of Schedule Tribe (ST) status to the Phari community has been a heated topic in Jammu and Kashmir. This issue, which remains unresolved, gained significant attention last year when Union Home Minster, Amit Shah verbally announced ST status for the Pharis, raising hopes among the people. However, before delving deeper, it is essential to understand the background and history of the ST movement.
The movement was initiated by prominent members of the Phari community, including figures like KarnahQureshi Sab and Saifwali Sab. More recently, the movement in the Chenab Valley has emerged, attempting to claim credit. Unfortunately, this development led to clashes between the Phari and Gujjar communities. Provocative elements on both sides made their presence felt through various means, such as singing songs against each other, creating mobile apps, conducting instigating interviews and speeches, and so on. This conflict escalated to the point where individuals from both communities took it as a matter of ego and pride.
However, it is crucial to remind everyone that these two communities have coexisted for centuries and are likely to continue doing so in the future. Instead of engaging in rivalry, they should consider the forthcoming elections and question the Home Ministry about whether the ST status for Phariswas merely a political gesture.
The real question is why some members of the Gujjar community oppose this move. Do they have legitimate concerns that ST status for Pharis will affect their reservation quota? Both communities have valid arguments from their respective standpoints. It is surprising that even individuals from the creamy layer of both communities are demanding and protesting. It would be wise for them to exclude themselves from the ST status or any other reservation, as the Indian constitution already addresses their concerns.
Now, all eyes are on the Modi government to fulfill the promises made to both parties. It is a critical juncture where these discussions could either lead to resolution or deepen the divide between the two brotherly communities, the Phari and Gujjar.
Kashmir Images is an English language daily newspaper published from Srinagar (J&K), India. The newspaper is one of the largest circulated English dailies of Kashmir and its hard copies reach every nook and corner of Kashmir Valley besides Jammu and Ladakh region.