Shah arrives in Jammu on three-day tour of J&K

TNN Bureau. Updated: 10/4/2022 11:34:21 AM Front Page

Jammu: Union Home Minister Amit Shah arrived here on Monday on a three-day visit of Jammu and Kashmir.
Shah arrived in the evening and was received at the airport by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha and Union minister Jitendra Singh, among others.Shah is scheduled to address two rallies - one in Rajouri district of the Jammu region on Tuesday and another in Baramulla in north Kashmir on Wednesday.
The home minister is scheduled to meet various delegations, including those representing the Gujjar, Bakerwal and Pahari communities during his visit, officials said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has promised the Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to Paharis, a long-pending demand of the community mostly residing in Rajouri and Poonch in the Jammu region and Baramulla in north Kashmir, where Shah is scheduled to address public rallies over the next two days.
Gujjars and Bakerwals have expressed resentment over the proposed inclusion of Paharis in the ST category.
There is massive enthusiasm among the Paharis in anticipation of a major announcement from the home minister but at the same time, the Gujjars and the Bakerwals, apprehending dilution of the ST status, have come out to express their resentment against the proposed move.
Hundreds of Gujjar and Bakerwal college students gathered here and staged a peaceful march to oppose the likely inclusion of the Pahari-speaking people in the ST category.
The STs have been granted 10 per cent reservation in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly for the first time after a recent delimitation exercise. Nine seats have been reserved for the STs, while seven are reserved for the Scheduled Castes (SCs).
Gujjars and Bakerwals also staged a protest in Shopian district of south Kashmir, threatening to intensify the agitation if Paharis are given the ST status.
Welcoming the visit of the home minister, the Jammu and Kashmir Gujjar Bakerwals Organisations Coordination Committee appreciated the steps taken by the BJP-led Centre for the betterment of the people of Jammu and Kashmir in general and that of the STs in particular.
"For the last 30 years, no central or state government implemented the law relating to the STs in Jammu and Kashmir. It is the current government that provided political reservation and implemented the Forest Rights Act in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir," convenor of the committee Anwar Choudhary told reporters here.
However, he appealed to Shah to allay the apprehensions that the ST status of the Gujjars, Bakerwals, Gadis and Sippis shall not be diluted by including any other section of people from Jammu and Kashmir in the category.
Senior BJP leader Arshad Choudhary, who is from the Gujjar community, said the demand of the Paharis for the ST status is "spurious and unjustifiable", and said the tribals got the ST status after decades of relentless struggle and secured 10 per cent reservation in jobs and education.
"The conspirators are all out to jeopardise the legitimate rights and interests of the tribals and render them unreal and ineffective socially, educationally, economically and politically, and create a pre-1991-like situation, and all this is utterly unacceptable to us," he said.

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