By: Shabir Ahmad Dar
In 1991 the Gujjar-Bakarwals were granted tribal status in Jammu and Kashmir by the government of India after an exhaustive study. The study revealed that Bakarwal is another name for Gujjar and, as such, they were entered into revenue records as a separate tribal category according to the Indian constitution.
But still they lagged on many spheres of life due to the presence of article 370 ,as successive Governments had ignored their plight and article 370 was a big factor responsible for their bad conditions. But now in 2019 with abrogation of article 370 their pain is not just being listened But answered too.
The Delimitation recently carried after the abrogation of article 370 has espoused the cause of Gujjar and Bakerwal community in a much bigger way. THE Delimitation Commission’s proposals for Jammu and Kashmir, redrawing constituencies and reserving some for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, has meant an increase in the number of constituencies with majority Hindu population in the border Rajouri district. It also marks the first ever political reservation in J&K for Gujjars and Bakarwals, who form the third largest ethnic group in the UT, after the Kashmiris and Dogras.
On the other hand of the spectrum, as we know Gujjar and Bakarwal are integral parts of our tribal component of the society whose welfare is top agenda of Jammu and Kashmir Government.
Over last two years the department under the guidance of Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has laid a strong foundation for tribal education and address the gaps particularly in planning, inclusive development and empowerment viz a viz education.
Education of tribal students, particularly in remote areas, has remained a concern of the tribal communities, however, owing to various reasons the department could not move beyond the routine scholarships disbursement through education department.
Data and surveys are being used to ensure all round tribal development in Jammu and Kashmir.
2021 multiple exercises were undertaken to access the status of education in tribal areas, gather micro database, obtain community feedback, assess the available facilities as well as opportunities and finally put in place an all-encompassing education plan for tribal population aimed at ensuring an inclusive educational landscape in Jammu and Kashmir.
The tribal communities represent a diversity of religious, cultural, social and economic practices and parameters which in itself makes the job of a development administrator complex. The surveys and resultant planning processes have been prompt, enabling immediate launch of several initiatives.
This year, On the auspicious occasion of Republic Day, the Department of Tribal Affairs had announced awards for 26 institutions and individuals for their outstanding contribution to tribal welfare and achievements in different walks of life.
In the run up to mega event, the Tribal Affairs Department had invited entries for the first ever Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory level awards.
After a multilevel screening process through panels of experts, the Department today announced awards on the eve of Republic Day.
Out of these 26 awards, 17 awards had been conferred to the Tribal individuals for their outstanding work in the field of sports, education, culture, literature and Science & Technology.
Who can forget that
Last year, J&K government scripted history with LG Sinha handing over individual and community rights certificates to the beneficiaries of Gujjar, Bakarwal and Gaddi Sippi communities under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006.
The initiative was hailed as a significant step with a potential to transform the lives of members of tribal communities across Jammu and Kashmir.
Describing the occasion as “historic”, Sinha expressed gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for making it possible to implement the Act in the Union Territory (UT), and said the move will usher a new era of empowerment and prosperity for the deprived tribal population here.
After the abrogation of 370, Jammu and Kashmir Government is
it is making continuous efforts to protect the interests of tribal people, including their land, education and upliftment of their socio-economic status.
Even the Budget announced few months back had set its eyes on tribal development in Jammu and Kashmir.
Tribal welfare also assumes immense significance. For Tribal Affairs, an allocation of about Rs.282.23 crore has been made under Capital Expenditure for the year 2022-23 which is the same as the previous year’s budget allocation.
In the new budget, 100 percent coverage of pre-matric and post-matric scholarships to Gujjar and Bakerwal students and ST students with 100 percent disbursement through DBT is expected to be accomplished in 2022-23.
One hopes that tribal development March in Jammu and Kashmir after 370 abrogation would continue .