Nearly 12 lakh members of the Pahari community in the region were given Scheduled Tribe (ST) status by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in an effort to win over voters ahead of the anticipated upcoming assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
According to reports, the statement was made by BJP leader and Union Home Minister Amit Shah during a visit to the area in October, this year.
“Thank you, HM [email protected] Ji, for fulfilling the #Pahari community’s long-standing desire for ST status. Only a government led by PM [email protected] Ji, who has the bravery and commitment to reform #JammuAndKashmir, could have made this happen, tweeted Union Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh on his Twitter account.
Syed Mushtaq Bukhari thanked central government
The National Conference ex-prominent Pahari community leader, former minister, and former close confidant of Farooq Abdullah (former J&K CM), Syed Mushtaq Bukhari stated, “The battle of 40 years has now paid off. We appreciate the BJP-led administration”.
“The BJP deserves credit. Congress consistently undermined our case. Since, justice has finally been served to us, we are really grateful to the home minister and prime minister, added Bukhari, he said.
Bukhari said “I left the National Conference Party because of that. How can I be wrong in demanding justice for the Paharis, if there is nothing wrong when Farooq Abdullah speaks about Kashmiris, Pt. Prem Nath Dogra speaks about Dogras, and Mian Altaf speaks about Gujjars,” he added.
“I have won this battle. I shall continue to support the BJP wholeheartedly even if I decide not to join,” Bukhari stated.
In addition, Bukhari said that he has not yet received an offer from the BJP to join the saffron party.
He did, however, openly acknowledge that the BJP’s pre-election strategy to garner the support of the nearly 12 lakh Pahari people before the next assembly elections included the ST classification.
He declared, “It is the biggest present ever given to my community, and we are deeply grateful to the BJP and will comply with all requests.”
Amit Shah promises to Pahari community
At his rally in Rajouri, on October 4, Amit Shah vowed to provide the Pahari community ST status and gave the assurance that “the reservation quota of Gujjar and Bakerwals won’t be disturbed.”
Shah attacked the National Conference (NC), the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and Congress in his speech for “depriving Gujjars, Bakerwals, and Paharis of their rights, since 1947.”
It might be said that the Pahari community predominately inhabits in the districts of Rajouri, Poonch, Baramulla, Anantnag, and Kupwara.
The Gujjar-Bakerwal population was estimated at 1.25 million in 2011; however, Paharis asserted that there were over two million of them in Jammu and Kashmir. But, a preliminary census estimate places their population at one million.
The community is primarily located between the Jhelum and Chenab rivers in the Jammu districts of Poonch and Rajouri, Uri of the Baramulla district, and Karnah and Tanghdar of the Kupwara district.