Paharis are an important part of Jammu and Kashmir. The community had faced much neglect, but now due to the constant efforts of the Central and Union territory government things are changing towards brighter prospects for the Pahari community.
It was among the most marginalized communities.
During the recent historic visit to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, Home Minister Amit Shah historically announced Scheduled Tribe (ST) status for the Pahari community on 4 October, 2022.
The announcement was made in his address at a public rally in Rajouri. The HM said that Justice GD Sharma Commission has recommended reservation for Paharis, Gujjars and Bakerwals. After completion of the administrative process, these communities will get reservation benefits.
Move Protested By Gujjars, Bakerwals
Scores of students belonging to the Gujjar and Bakerwal communities protested when the move to grant ST status to Paharis in Jammu was being speculated.
In March 2020, the Jammu and Kashmir government had constituted a three-member commission headed by Justice Sharma to look at the issues relating to socially and educationally backward classes, scheduled tribes and scheduled castes.
The other two members of the Commission were Indian Police Service officer Muneer Khan and retired Indian Foreign Service officer Rupa Lal.
The Gujjar and Bakerwal community have organized constant protests against the move for the last several months. It fears that the sizeable Pahari-speaking population, if granted the ST status, will eat up their share in government employment and higher education.
But the ground facts and the clear cut policy of the Government seems that protests of Gujjar community are totally illogical and without any base.
Paharis Need Upliftment
Earlier, The Pahari community, a linguistic group mainly residing in the Pir Panjal valley comprising Rajouri and Poonch districts, were expecting a major push to their demand to be included in Schedule Tribe (ST) list from the Union Minister. Paharis are also spread in parts of the Kashmir valley. The move seems to be aimed at building on goodwill among smaller Muslim communities in the J&K.
The wars and conflicts after Partition had ravaged the Pahari community, so they deserve the reservation system. The socio economic backwardness of Gujjar community has been addressed by Government of India from time. Now it is time for Pahari community, so Government of India has taken much needed steps and deserves appreciation from all angles.
Paharis Have Lacked Political Representation
Paharis, who comprise 8 per cent of the J&K population deserve the reservation from all angles. The Central Government has made it clear that it would in no way impact the interests of Gujjar community.
So the pulse of logic urges on vested interests to shun protests and not to ignite Gujjar community on an issue which has no base and logic.
Paharis leadership has long maintained that despite constituting 70 to 74 per cent of the population in 13 constituencies, they have no political representation.
The Pahari people are indebted to the prime minister and home minister for publicly acknowledging their role in nation building. The granting of reservation to Paharis is without a doubt a step in the right direction.