Javaid Rahi

January 7, 2020

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Javaid Rahi

January 7, 2020

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Javaid Rahi @ Mahri Awaz Gojri Programe

January 7, 2020

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Forest Rights: A big relief for Gujjars, Bakerwals of Jammu and Kashmir By: Dr. Javaid Rahi 

January 7, 2020

Forest Rights: A big relief for Gujjars, Bakerwals

By: Dr. Javaid Rahi

 https://www.dailyexcelsior.com/forest-rights-a-big-relief-for-gujjars-bakerwals/

The countrywide law – The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, popularly known as the Forest Rights Act – was extended to Union Territory of  Jammu and Kashmir through an Act of the Parliament of  India   titled  “Jammu and Kashmir Re-organisation Act, 2019” on  5th of August 2019 . It was widely  hailed by tribal  communities of the area and they   termed it  as a historic step to correct the discrimination,  injustice meted out to tribal people and forest dwellers  of erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Act  gave back to traditional forest dwellers their rights to freely access, independently manage and govern forest lands and all other resources  related  to forests,   within village boundaries, which had been controlled by the forest department  of erstwhile State of J&K , prior  to 31st of October   2019, the date of implementation of   Reorganisation Act, 2019 in J&K.

Under the said  Forest Rights Act , rights of  traditional forest dwellers are stand protected against forced displacements, evictions from forest lands which the Gujjars, Bakerwals, Gaddis were facing for the last many decades.They have  now  entitled to  use minor forest produce except timber,  access to water resources  besides they will now have grazing rights on Forest lands,  as well.

Prior to the extension of FRA ( Forest Right Act),   there was no proper law/Act exists in erstwhile state of  Jammu and Kashmir with regard to the use of forest lands by Gujjars , Bakerwals, Gaddi, Sippi groups who are pastoralists tribe. Though, nomadic groups (Gujjars , Bakerwals, Gaddi, Sippi)  got ST status in J&K in  the year 1991 after a long struggle, but  since then  they were struggling hard for a number  safeguards available to  Scheduled Tribes residing  in other parts of the country including the Forest Rights. They were regularly  agitating for constitutional safeguards to J&K STs  by extending Indian  laws enacted for tribal groups of  J&K  enabling them to progress on the prototype of tribes of other states of India.

As per the data and research documents a  major chunk of these tribal of JK  are landless, shelter less entitled for     dwelling rights on forest lands which they were  using and managing as traditional inhabitants since centuries together.

Population of Tribes in J&K

With reference to the UT of Jammu & Kashmir, five tribal communities have been listed in Constitution of India as ST’s includes  Gujjar, Bakarwal, Gaddi, Sippi and Shin/Dard. They, as per census 2011, constitute more than  10%  population of the state.  The Gujjar and Bakerwal together comprise 90 percent of the total tribal population in UT of J&K. However, Gujjars have questioned the official statistics time and again by asserting that their population is much more than what the census reports. They claim that the census was undertaken during the time of their annual migration. Due to this, a large population of their tribe, who was in the upper reaches of the Himalaya, was not counted. The census hence under-reports the population of Gujjar and Bakerwals who constitute no less than 15 to 20 percent of total population of the state of J&K.

The Forest (Tribal) Rights Act- 2006 provides :

On 18th December 2006, the Indian Parliament passed legislation whereby the Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers were fortified with the rights on forest land and other resources. It was an initiative of the Government of India to redress the historical injustice committed against tribes who are the main forest dwellers, while including provisions for making conservation more effective and more transparent.

Through this legislation, which came into force on 31 December 2007, following rights have been granted to tribes of India:

  1. Ownership  and Title rights to land,   subject to a maximum of 4 hectares, that is being farmed by tribal or forest dwellers as on 13 December 2005;
  2. Use rights – Rights were granted to tribes to grazing areas, pastoralist route to minor forest produce (also including ownership)
  3. Rehabilitation- Right to rehabilitation in case of illegal eviction or forced displacement. Relief and development rights  were granted  for basic amenities, subject to restrictions for forest protection;
  4.  Protection Rights and Forest management rights- to protect forests and wildlife.

The eligibility for ‘Forest Rights’ (to get rights) is confined to those who “primarily reside in forests” or who “depend on forests and forest land for their livelihood”. Further, either the claimant must be a member of the Scheduled Tribes scheduled in that area or must have been residing in the forest for 75 years.

 Types of Rights granted to Indian Tribes under Forest ACT 2006

  1. Right of ownership, access to collect, use, and dispose of minor forest produce;
  2. Right to hold and live in the forest land for self-cultivation, for livelihood, to Scheduled Tribe or other traditional forest dwellers;
  3. For settled or transhumant community-rights of uses of entitlements such as fish and other products of water bodies, grazing and traditional seasonal resource and their access to nomadic or pastoralist communities;
  4. Right to protect, regenerate or conserve or manage any community forest resource which they have been traditionally protecting and conserving for sustainable use;
  5. Right of access to biodiversity and community right to intellectual property and traditional knowledge related to biodiversity and cultural diversity;
  6. Traditional and customary right  enjoyed by the forest-dwelling Scheduled Tribes or other traditional forest dwellers;
  7. Community rights such as nistar, by whatever name called, including those used in erstwhile Princely states, Zamindari or such intermediary regimes;
  8.  Other rights as may be granted by the State.

Forest  as Home of Tribes

The forests are the home of nomadic tribes. Lakhs of nomadic Gujjars-Bakarwals, Gaddis and other  groups  of J&K  are dependent on forest lands  as  they are not only residing in these areas since centuries. They stay in Jungals  during migration and their livelihood  is completely based on forest products, grazing lands other resources.

In the past, the tribes especially Gujjars have been protecting forests against mafias and other land grabbers, but as per  laws  of erstwhile state of J&K , protection to  forests by a person or persons other than officials were illegal which was totally unjust and against tribal rights. Hence, they (Gujjar community)  hailed the extension of  FRA  to J&K as  they are  now  forest legally  protect the forests  per Forest Rights  Act.

Implementation of Forest Rights;

Scheduled Tribe communities of the  UT of Jammu and Kashmir  feel that now onwards a new era of development, overall  progress  and equal opportunities will start for all of them .They are eagerly waiting for a positive outcome through implementation  of new Forest  laws extended to J&K by the Parliament of India.

As per law Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA)  Government of India will be the nodal department for the implementation of the FRA in States and UTs. Tribal of Jammu and Kashmir are hoping that  FRA will be implemented rapidly in the UT as the same extended to J&K after 12 years of its implementation across India. It will empower the  Village committees to govern community forest resources and to democratize forest governance  by securing rights of  Tribes of  Jammu and Kashmir.

(Dr. Javaid Rahi – a tribal researcher – can be mailed at: javaidrahi@gmail.com)

Act to end atrocities against JK Gujjars, Dalits   Dr Javaid Rahi

January 7, 2020

Act to end atrocities against JK Gujjars, Dalits

( SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities,)

by Dr Javaid Rahi

After 30 years of its existence in the country, the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes ( SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities,) Act  was extended to Union  Territory of Jammu Kashmir through ‘Reorganisation Act, 2019’ – enacted by  the Parliament of India in August 2019.

Though the Act was implemented in the entire country since 1989, it took three decades for its implementation to  Jammu Kashmir. On the day of its  introduction, it was widely hailed by Dalits which constitute besides tribal communities includes Gujjars, Bakerwals, Gaddis , Sippis of Jammu and Kashmir and they termed it as a historic step to correct the discrimination, injustice meted out to SC/ST  groups. The SC/ST together constitute 25 percent of the total population of UT of Jammu Kashmir.

As per Act, it impounds caste-based discrimination with Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes of India and to avert atrocities against weaker sections. The main objective of the Act prevented the commission of offences of atrocities against the members of the SC and ST.

The Act provides constitutional provisions for Special Courts / Exclusive Special Courts for the trial of such offences and also prescribes relief and rehabilitation of the victims of such offences and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Punishable offences against SC/ST Atrocities Act.

Under Act following offences are punishable;-

  1. wrongfully occupies or cultivates any land owned by, or allotted to, or notified by any competent authority to be allotted to, a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe or gets the land allotted to him transferred;
  2. intentionally insults or intimidates with intent to humiliate a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe in any place within public view ;
  3. denies a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe any customary right of passage to a place of public resort or obstructs such member so as to prevent him from using or having access to a place of public resort to which other members of public or any section thereof have a right to use or access to ;
  4. assaults or uses force to any woman belonging to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe with intent to dishonour or outrage her modesty ;
  5. acts with intent to cause injury, insult or annoyance to any member of a Scheduled Caste, or a Scheduled Tribe by dumping excreta, waste matter, carcasses or any other obnoxious substance in his premises or neighbourhood;
  6. forces a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe to drink or eat any inedible or obnoxious substance; forcibly removes clothes from the person of a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe or parades him naked or with painted face or body or commits any similar act which is derogatory to human dignity ;
  7. wrongfully dispossesses a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe from his land or premises or interferes with the enjoyment of his rights over any land, premises or water;
  8. compels or entices a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe to do ‘begar’ or other similar forms of forced or bonded labour other than any compulsory service for public purposes imposed by Government ;
  9. forces or intimidates a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe not to vote or to vote to a particular candidate or to vote in a manner other than that provided by law;
  10. institutes false, malicious or vexatious suit or criminal or other legal proceedings against a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe ;
  11. gives any false or frivolous information to any public servant and thereby causes such public servant to use his lawful power to the injury or annoyance of a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe ;
  12. being in a position to dominate the will of a woman belonging to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe and uses that position to exploit her sexually to which she would not have otherwise agreed;
  13. corrupts or fouls the water of any spring, reservoir or any other source ordinarily used by members of the Scheduled Castes or a Scheduled Tribes so as to render it less fit for the purpose for which it is ordinarily used ;
  14. forces or causes a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe to leave his house, village or other places of residence shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to five years and with fine.
  15. tonsuring of the head, moustache, or similar acts which are derogatory to the dignity of Dalits or  Adivasis/ Tribal ; garlanding with chappals;
  16. denying access to irrigation facilities or forest rights ;
  17. dispose or carry human or animal carcasses, or to dig graves;
  18. using or permitting manual scavenging; dedicating Dalit women as devadasi; abusing in caste name; perpetrating witchcraft atrocities;
  19. imposing social or economic boycott;

Where to lodged complaints:-

A victim can  approach law and order machinery include District Magistrate or a Sub-divisional Magistrate or any other Executive Magistrate or any police officer not below the rank of a Deputy Superintendent of Police with a plea;

As per Act, on receipt of information of atrocities against SC/ST  the officer shall conduct an inquiry  and take appropriate action within the local limits of his jurisdiction.

Investigation

According to Rule 7(1)[21]  investigation of an offense committed under the SC/ST Act  can be investigated by an officer of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) or above.

Punishment for  Officer/ Officials for neglect of duties

A Public Servant   (Officer/ Official) but not being a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe,  on wilful neglect of  his duties with regard to this Act, is/are liable to be punished  with imprisonment

Special Court

In order to provide speedy trial, the Act prescribes establishment of  Special Court to try the offences under this Act. In this connection the State Government with the concurrence of the Chief Justice of the High Court, specify for each district a Court of Session to be a Special Court.

Legal aid

As against existing provision  of Legal aid for all others which depends on the financial status, Legal aid is available for all SC/ST victims regardless of financial status.

Special Public Prosecutor

The Act says that the Government has to appoint a Public Prosecutor or an advocate who has been in practice as an advocate for not less than seven years, as a Special Public Prosecutor for the purpose of conducting cases in that Court.

Punishment Provisions

  1. The Act prescribes a provision of imprisonment between six months to five years with fine if accused found guilty.
  2. On FIR , the accused is not entitled to get anticipatory bail from the court which makes this law very unique and forceful.
  3. In the said Act speedy trial are prescribed in each district in specified “special court” to try offences booked under PoA,

Implementation of the Act

As per Act, the Government has to  take the following measures for the effective implementation of this Act ;

  1.             providing legal aid to the affected  persons
  2.             providing travelling and maintenance expenses to victims of atrocities witness-es etc during investigation and trial of offences under this Act

             III.            economic and social rehabilitation of the victims

  1.             appointment of officers for initiating or exercising supervision over prosecutions
  2.             setting up of committees at such appropriate levels as the State Government may think fit to assist that the government in formulation or implementation of such measures

(The writer is a well-known tribal researcher of J&K  and can be mailed at: javaidrahi@gmail.com)

Is it sin to be a Gujjar? By Dr. Javaid Rahi

December 18, 2019
Wed, Jul 9, 2008, 5:05 PM

Is it sin to be a Gujjar?

By Dr. Javaid Rahi

This is narration of 5th day of the strike in Kashmir Valley. I was busy in reading a local newspaper while my five years old son (Ali Gujjar) called my attention towards television and said “See Papa-Gujjar Gujjar  Hai Hai” !!. I increased the volume of my television and with all inquisitiveness watched the television. A local Private television channel was viewing the visuals  of violent demonstrations in downtown area of Srinagar City. These demonstrations were against the land transfer to Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board. The procession was led by a sessionist Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Thousands of people were participating in the procession and raising slogans against the government agencies  and chanting jingles against Mr. Gh. Nabi Azad. The demonstrationists were hoisting  slogans “Gujjar-Gujjar  Hai Hai ………..Nab Gujjar Hai Hai. Being a non-Kashmiri speaking Gujjar  I was trying to understand reference to context of these slogans and jingles and in order to have further information  in this regard I telephoned one of my Kashmiri Speaking  Muslim friend residing in downtown area of Srinagar and in response,  my friend  replied that these type of slogans are being raised during whole the “land movement”  . later  I was given to understand that it is not only the downtown or civil lines area of Srinagar but these humiliating slogan are being raised in whole valley of Kashmir.

I being a “Gujjar”  has always been proud of my community as a “tribe”  because I know that my tribe is having 5000 years of history at its back. This is the only largest Muslim Tribe in India which is having nomadic way of life from the times immemorial and which has its roots in Middle East and Central Asia. But I was stunned to listen the slogans embarrassing my tribe and community. This was really a shock that such tribe was being ill-treated and humiliated with slogans and jingles raised during the demonstrations.

Yes….. I who is proud of having “Gujjar identity” but I was not in a  position to understand why the demonstrators of a particular community were humiliating my community and I don’t know what was the motive behind it..!. Probably they were trying to establish that Gujjars are inferior to majority Musilm community of Kashmir. There can be a argument that mob mentality can be behind this unwanted state of affairs but it persisted for about eight days which speaks of another unfortunate view of the picture.

Not only this, a stigma is being attached with word “Gujjar” in Kashmir  which has resulted a wedge between Muslim Kashmiris and Muslim Gujjars. This wedge has been widened when the demonstrators under the leadership of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, while mortifying the sentiment of other Muslim community. The sentiments of mob in

Kashmir valley during 8 days of demonstrations over land row is respectable but  why the second largest ethno -linguistic minority of “Gujjars” is  targeted by chanting jingles about them. This is  very unfortunate and strange.

The history is witness that no movement has achieved its goals until and unless it relinquishes hatred against the religious, lingual and other minorities were part of that particular movement. But we the Kashmiris are leading to which directions? we don’t know ourselves !.  A substantial chunk of Kashmiri intellectuals are against any sought of cultural discrimination. They favour amalgamation of Kashmiris, Gujjars and other identities  to one Muslim identity. But this will not be possible unless and until the Majority Muslim community accepts and respects other cultural, racial, ethnical  and lingual minorities among Muslims.

Contrary to above in Jammu , the majority community constitutes of non Muslims but in my 37 years of age I have never heard of any disrespectful words against my community, not to talk of raising  of slogans and making jingles and jokes of our community. This is also a fact that the Gujjars have suffered most over the land row at Jammu Samba, and Akhnor and their property has been perished. Some hard-liner  organizations have thrashed Gujjars and their milk products and vegetables etc were looted. This can be understood as an occurring during such demonstrations but raising of slogans against Gujjars in Kashmir is absolutely an ground-breaking and unfortunate incident. But in valley , this is also very surprising that if any voice is raised in support of Gujjar identity  and their rights, the label of “Agents of Delhi”  is leveled by certain unscrupulous elements.

I have no regrets  that the activist of Bajrang Dal and other organizations have tried to torture Gujjar property and places of worship of Gujjars in various areas of Jammu. I have no sorrow that a few house of Gujjars were tortured in samba and Kathua. This is tolerable but why there are sentiments against Gujjars in Kashmir? Whether Gujjars have ever marginalized Kashmiris? Is there any occurrence or example? NO. then why …..Gujjar Gujjar Hai Hai?

The present generation is having their look on international scenario being educated .Therefore the Gujjars or other ethno-linguistic identities demands equality and respect.

Lastly I pay my tributes to towering Dogri poet of Jammu late Deno Bhai Panth who has in one of his poem portrayed  Gujjar Women’s peculiarities with “Radha” , “Sita” and godess Vashnu Mata thereby attaching  atmost respect for her. This Dogri poem under the title “GUJJARI” is a part of curriculum of IAS/KAS (Dogri-Subject) and M A Dogri courses of University of Jammu.

Gujjars face to face with intolerant Jammu  by ; Dr. Javaid Rahi

December 18, 2019
Apr 25, 2017, 5:07 PM

Gujjars face to face with intolerant Jammu 

                                                                           by ; Dr. Javaid Rahi

 

Facing  ample of hardship on all fronts- the nomadic Bakerwals-who are a part of Gujjar tribal society,  practising Islam,  in Jammu and Kashmir –  attached with cattle raring occupation,  now turn out to be a  soft  targets of   cow vigilante groups,   in many parts of  the state. The recent incident occurred  in   Talwara a village near Riasi  district headquarter,  on 22nd of April 2017,  when  a group of ‘gau rakshaks’ armed with iron rods and canes attacked a-nomad  Bakewal (Gujjar) family and  beaten them up   ruthlessly . A  video of the same incident  gone viral in the country and Police initiated action against the culprits.

 

The nomadic family was carrying a herd of cows, sheep and goats and were under seasonal migration towards upper reaches of Himalaya owing to growing temperature in  plane areas,  where they were  staying during winter months. The entire flock was allegedly taken away by the gau rakshaks. In this incident around  9   tribal , including a woman and an elderly man, were injured in mob  attack  over,  what they call it ,the mistaken identity of bovine smuggling.

 

 

Cattle a Livelihood  for nomads

J&K nomad Gujars and Bakerwals  are raring of cattle, sheep goats , cow, buffalos, camels and horses to run their livelihood. They are struggling hard for restoration of peace in plane areas  enabling them to continue with their animal raring profession which they are practising since centuries. In past, they have been  run all this serenely  with local support  from all community  and law enforcement  agencies  are helping them whole heartily. But things are going out of control day by day.

 

The migration issues

 

Everyone, in the state  of Jammu and Kashmir are aware that the Gujjars in J&K practicing the age old traditions  of seasonal migration. They travel bi-annually along with cattle  towards upper reaches of Shivalik, Pirpanjal and Trikuta Hills of north western Himalayas,  in summer   during the six month when  temperature in plane areas go high. In October they starts  migrating back  towards down areas.

 

Prior to this they were facing restriction on  Tribal  migrations as it was  halted in several areas due to militancy, border firing, closer to forests and government lands, Besides they are going through  extreme adversities  due to toughest lifestyle, and lack of economic freedom owing to deficiency of resources.

 

Now , they are in front of a new  hardship from Cow vigilantes. Many Gujjars have relinquished the “migratory tradition” of their nomadic lifestyle over the  past few years in Jammu and Kashmir due to such incidents.There is a great apprehension that the tribal migration will become a history of the past in next few decades. Riasi type incidents causing shadow over this profession.

 

Issue of  Tribal Rights

The Gujjars – main Scheduled Tribe group, as per census 2011  constitute more than 12 per cent population of the State .Around 6 lakh people who are nomadic move after every six months with their livestock and undertake seasonal migration.

 

The Raisi District where the incident occurred , have 28.1% tribal population. Out of total Population (2011)  of 314667 of Riasi 88365 belongs to Gujjars-Bakrwals tribes . The district figures  at 6th  rank  where  Highest tribal population residing.

 

Though Gujjars are STs in the State but they   were not treated at par with other tribes of India. In  view of special status granted to J&K , Indian laws  for tribes do not implemented in the state directly.   In result , tribal  are still fighting for rights available to other Indian tribes  included   Political Reservation to STs , extension of Forest Right Act 2006 and Conservation Rights 1980, SC/ST atrocities Act and other similar Acts which empowers tribal groups.

 

 

The issues of  intolerance

Encumbered with a number of  issues and being landless in the state  they are demanding rehabilitation through allotment of land  by govt.Besides,  illiteracy, poverty , militancy, stigmatization nomadic Gujjar tribe by other groups are the main issues of the community. But  they  are now    encountered with another problem of intolerance  mainly  they face in Jammu region.

 

For last  few years , the Jammu was witnessing abrupt  increase of intolerance cases against the Gujjars and that  a number of  attacks had been happening for a long time. The nomadic groups who mainly migrate through roads  are regularly harassed  in some localities if they are carrying cow , buffalos or camels  during the course of annual migration starts in  April every year.

 

The community, after the issue of Riasi , circulated an appeal to Jammuties  to uphold age old traditions tolerance  towards nomads and their animals. They  said , the  nomads are already  in trouble due to tremendous pressures    and they are looking for help from all  quarters purely on humanitarian grounds, to run their  livelihood

 

The Gujjars-in their appeal stated that they protect   their animals like kids so the cow protectors must need not to worry. They called on some elders of majority community  of Jammu , Samba, Kathua, Riasi and  Udhampur  the Hindu populated districts -traditionally known for tolerance , brotherhood  and religious harmony and made an appeal   strengthening of  old practices.

 

Recent  Police Advisory

Jammu police has advised nomads (Gujjars-Bakerwals) not to travel during night and directed the police officials to provide them protection when they move from one place to another. Police asked nomads  to travel only in the afternoon.

 

The Gujjar community are the main protector  of animals and they treat their  as part of thier family. Being  nomads they are mainly vegetarian community and they avoid  slaughtering of  an animal which remained attach with them for long period of time.

 

Law enforcement agency can play a role to rebuilt the  confidence among nomads and bridge the gaps between the societies.

( the author is a tribal researcher and can be mailed at javaidrahi@gmail.com)

 

 

 

Forest Rights: A big relief for Gujjars, Bakerwals By: Dr. Javaid Rahi 

December 18, 2019

Forest Rights: A big relief for Gujjars, Bakerwals

By: Dr. Javaid Rahi

The countrywide law – The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, popularly known as the Forest Rights Act – was extended to Union Territory of  Jammu and Kashmir through an Act of the Parliament of  India   titled  “Jammu and Kashmir Re-organisation Act, 2019” on  5th of August 2019 . It was widely  hailed by tribal  communities of the area and they   termed it  as a historic step to correct the discrimination,  injustice meted out to tribal people and forest dwellers  of erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Act  gave back to traditional forest dwellers their rights to freely access, independently manage and govern forest lands and all other resources  related  to forests,   within village boundaries, which had been controlled by the forest department  of erstwhile State of J&K , prior  to 31st of October   2019, the date of implementation of   Reorganisation Act, 2019 in J&K.

Under the said  Forest Rights Act , rights of  traditional forest dwellers are stand protected against forced displacements, evictions from forest lands which the Gujjars, Bakerwals, Gaddis were facing for the last many decades.They have  now  entitled to  use minor forest produce except timber,  access to water resources  besides they will now have grazing rights on Forest lands,  as well.

Prior to the extension of FRA ( Forest Right Act),   there was no proper law/Act exists in erstwhile state of  Jammu and Kashmir with regard to the use of forest lands by Gujjars , Bakerwals, Gaddi, Sippi groups who are pastoralists tribe. Though, nomadic groups (Gujjars , Bakerwals, Gaddi, Sippi)  got ST status in J&K in  the year 1991 after a long struggle, but  since then  they were struggling hard for a number  safeguards available to  Scheduled Tribes residing  in other parts of the country including the Forest Rights. They were regularly  agitating for constitutional safeguards to J&K STs  by extending Indian  laws enacted for tribal groups of  J&K  enabling them to progress on the prototype of tribes of other states of India.

As per the data and research documents a  major chunk of these tribal of JK  are landless, shelter less entitled for     dwelling rights on forest lands which they were  using and managing as traditional inhabitants since centuries together.

Population of Tribes in J&K

With reference to the UT of Jammu & Kashmir, five tribal communities have been listed in Constitution of India as ST’s includes  Gujjar, Bakarwal, Gaddi, Sippi and Shin/Dard. They, as per census 2011, constitute more than  10%  population of the state.  The Gujjar and Bakerwal together comprise 90 percent of the total tribal population in UT of J&K. However, Gujjars have questioned the official statistics time and again by asserting that their population is much more than what the census reports. They claim that the census was undertaken during the time of their annual migration. Due to this, a large population of their tribe, who was in the upper reaches of the Himalaya, was not counted. The census hence under-reports the population of Gujjar and Bakerwals who constitute no less than 15 to 20 percent of total population of the state of J&K.

The Forest (Tribal) Rights Act- 2006 provides :

On 18th December 2006, the Indian Parliament passed legislation whereby the Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers were fortified with the rights on forest land and other resources. It was an initiative of the Government of India to redress the historical injustice committed against tribes who are the main forest dwellers, while including provisions for making conservation more effective and more transparent.

Through this legislation, which came into force on 31 December 2007, following rights have been granted to tribes of India:

  1. Ownership  and Title rights to land,   subject to a maximum of 4 hectares, that is being farmed by tribal or forest dwellers as on 13 December 2005;
  2. Use rights – Rights were granted to tribes to grazing areas, pastoralist route to minor forest produce (also including ownership)
  3. Rehabilitation- Right to rehabilitation in case of illegal eviction or forced displacement. Relief and development rights  were granted  for basic amenities, subject to restrictions for forest protection;
  4.  Protection Rights and Forest management rights- to protect forests and wildlife.

The eligibility for ‘Forest Rights’ (to get rights) is confined to those who “primarily reside in forests” or who “depend on forests and forest land for their livelihood”. Further, either the claimant must be a member of the Scheduled Tribes scheduled in that area or must have been residing in the forest for 75 years.

 Types of Rights granted to Indian Tribes under Forest ACT 2006

  1. Right of ownership, access to collect, use, and dispose of minor forest produce;
  2. Right to hold and live in the forest land for self-cultivation, for livelihood, to Scheduled Tribe or other traditional forest dwellers;
  3. For settled or transhumant community-rights of uses of entitlements such as fish and other products of water bodies, grazing and traditional seasonal resource and their access to nomadic or pastoralist communities;
  4. Right to protect, regenerate or conserve or manage any community forest resource which they have been traditionally protecting and conserving for sustainable use;
  5. Right of access to biodiversity and community right to intellectual property and traditional knowledge related to biodiversity and cultural diversity;
  6. Traditional and customary right  enjoyed by the forest-dwelling Scheduled Tribes or other traditional forest dwellers;
  7. Community rights such as nistar, by whatever name called, including those used in erstwhile Princely states, Zamindari or such intermediary regimes;
  8.  Other rights as may be granted by the State.

Forest  as Home of Tribes

The forests are the home of nomadic tribes. Lakhs of nomadic Gujjars-Bakarwals, Gaddis and other  groups  of J&K  are dependent on forest lands  as  they are not only residing in these areas since centuries. They stay in Jungals  during migration and their livelihood  is completely based on forest products, grazing lands other resources.

In the past, the tribes especially Gujjars have been protecting forests against mafias and other land grabbers, but as per  laws  of erstwhile state of J&K , protection to  forests by a person or persons other than officials were illegal which was totally unjust and against tribal rights. Hence, they (Gujjar community)  hailed the extension of  FRA  to J&K as  they are  now  forest legally  protect the forests  per Forest Rights  Act.

Implementation of Forest Rights;

Scheduled Tribe communities of the  UT of Jammu and Kashmir  feel that now onwards a new era of development, overall  progress  and equal opportunities will start for all of them .They are eagerly waiting for a positive outcome through implementation  of new Forest  laws extended to J&K by the Parliament of India.

As per law Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA)  Government of India will be the nodal department for the implementation of the FRA in States and UTs. Tribal of Jammu and Kashmir are hoping that  FRA will be implemented rapidly in the UT as the same extended to J&K after 12 years of its implementation across India. It will empower the  Village committees to govern community forest resources and to democratize forest governance  by securing rights of  Tribes of  Jammu and Kashmir.

(Dr. Javaid Rahi – a tribal researcher – can be mailed at: javaidrahi@gmail.com)

https://www.dailyexcelsior.com/forest-rights-a-big-relief-for-gujjars-bakerwals/

Delimitation, Reservation for STs  rekindle new hopes for Gujjars, Bakerwals by Dr. Javaid Rahi

December 18, 2019

Delimitation, Reservation for STs  rekindle new hopes for Gujjars, Bakerwals

Dr. Javaid Rahi

As per media reports , the  Election Commission of India  is going to initiate the process for delimitation of all the  90 Assembly constituencies in proposed Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir with an appropriate reservations for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes after October 31, 2019. Such news has  generated new ray of hope for  the Gujjars – Bakerwals who were  facing political apathy  since 1991 when ST status was granted to them by the Centre.

The Gujjar and Bakerwal community which constitute a major group among tribal of Jammu Kashmir having more than 20%  population in J&K  are ethnically , socially and politically a very important segment of the society. This is the third largest ethnic group of State after Kashmiri and Dogra ,has welcomed and hailed this announcement made by the government of India, is it will help  to empower tribal community at large and will help to  eradicate poverty, caste stigma and will end social inequality which they are  facing since centuries.

They hoped  that after proper  delimitation, when Assembly Segments were re-constituted in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the tribal Gujjar/ Bakerwal  Community will emerge  as a significant political force in the state. Knowing this, the Tribal ethnic groups were united behind this imagination, therefore, it embossed as an important vote bank which was very difficult to ignore or surpass by the political parties of the state.

Jammu and Kashmir State has substantial Chunk of Tribal Population which plays a big role in political process and power formations. There are 25 Assembly constituencies where Gujjars constitute 25% to 60 % of franchise. Besides there are twelve  Assembly segments where Gujjar Candidates won elections which includes ,Havali, Surnkote, Mendhar, Rajouri, Darhal, Gool,Gulabghar,  Arnas, Kalakote ,  Kangan and Uri . In other 14 constituencies, Gujjar/Bakerwal  vote can turn the tables which include, Kukarnag, Noorabad, Pahalgam , Kupwara, Karnah,  Nagrota, Inderwal,  Shangs, Tangmarg, Bandipur etc..

As per population distribution, Gujjars live in every corner of the  both the regions  of  Jammu and Kashmir having larger chunk of vote in  each Assembly as well as Parliamentary segments.

All  Political parties of the  Jammu and Kashmir recognized Gujjar/ Bakerwal  as an important and significant political force. After Independence (1947)  various races and groups tried to emerge on socio-political scenario of the state but Gujjars who were pushed to remote and far flung areas lacked behind in all walks of life. During past 72 year  all the linguistic and ethnic groups progressed in a big way except  Gujjars.

 This is for the first time that the government has made its mind for political empowerment of Tribal in the Jammu and Kashmir especially the Gujjars/ Bakerwals . It is pertinent to mention here that the Scheduled Caste community of the State enjoys this constitutional privilege from 1956 as seven seats have been reserved for scheduled castes in J&K Assembly. As per the provisions of J&K Constitution, the Scheduled Castes enjoy 8% reservation and it has been observed that the general condition of Scheduled Castes is far better than the people belonging to the Scheduled Tribes of the State. As said democracy cannot flourish nor will its objectives be fulfilled till it uplifts the communities which are victims of social inequality and caste stigma.

 If we go through the 72 years of independent India, we see that Gujjars/ Bakerwals  have always sacrificed their lives and property for their motherland. This has also been acknowledged by various scholars, top brass leaders of India and commissions constituted by the central and the Jammu and Kashmir  governments for recommending various steps to improve the life standard of Gujjar and Bakerwal tribes.

 After various recommendations by a number of commissions and panels constituted by the central and Jammu and Kashmir  government from time to time for amelioration of the lot of weaker sections of society in India. The Government of India had sanctioned funds for the development and upliftment of the Gujjars in Jammu and Kashmir in early seventies. As per the tribal elders,  Mrs. Indera Gandhi took keen interest in the political empowerment of Gujjars and organised big rallies and conferences. A department was also established to look after Gujjar affairs. Former Minister late Ch. Muhammad Shafi Khatana was entrusted the job of betterment of Gujjar and Bakerwal community and he was given a post of Advisor to Government of Jammu and Kashmir for Gujjars Affairs in 1971-72. This was for the first time that political importance of the Gujjars was recognized in order to achieve maximum gains. At that time, a good chunk in the budget outlay of the state specified for the development and welfare of the Gujjars in the state. During 1971-72, funds were also earmarked and placed at the disposal of District Development Commissioners of different districts for the development of this down trodden community.

 After establishing State Advisory Board for the Development of Gujjar and Bakerwals in the state in 1976-77, the central government released a special assistance of Rs.13 Crores to the Jammu and Kashmir Government for the educational and social  upliftment and betterment of Gujjar Bakerwal community. After Indera Gandhi , Begum Akabar Jahan wife of Shiekh Mohammad Abdullah has contributed her life for the upliftment of Gujjars/ Bakerwals.

In 1978 a special plans was formulated in J&K  and process for opening of Gujjar Hostels, scholarships to the Gujjar children of the state, rehabilitation of the Gujjar nomads were initiated. These were the great step towards overall development of Gujjars / Bakerwals

In 1991 Scheduled Tribe status was granted to Gujjar and Bakerwals by the centre . This status has brought  a big changes among the community to eradicate poverty, caste stigma, illiteracy .But the view has not been substantially changed as no political reservation was given to them. From 1991 to 2019 by successive governments who were in power.

The Gujjar/ Bakerwal  leadership have time and again  pressed hard to government to be sensitive in affairs of Gujjars and Bakerwals of the state but nothing concrete emerged. It was demanded that political reservation  be granted to Gujjars- Bakerwals but no step was taken in this direction.

In 2014 a Tribal Department was established in Jammu and Kashmir with a Minister  of Tribal affairs to look after the issues of nomadic communities .

This is worthwhile to mentioned here that  Gujjars/ Bakerwals who  live in strategically important, border and mountainous ranges of  Jammu and Kashmir have immensely contributed to sovereignty ,integrity of India besides  peace, harmony and brotherhood in passing decades and they are extensively following the concept of coexistence, unity for prosperity.

Owing to geographical settings,  in passing decades,  the indicators of  development  of ‘Schedule Tribes’   of Jammu and Kashmir , reveals an intense abating growth in socio-economic, education and health status of tribal groups. Inadequately represented in socio- politico-administrative structures-  the tribal being mainly  nomads, semi-nomads or differently habitats,  necessitate inventive initiatives,  form the government for effective resolution of  adversities , they are facing since long.

The new proposal of Centre to grant Political Reservation to Gujjars / Bakerwals is  largely hailed  by  the  community as it will be a  “biggest gift” of the 21st century for STs of J&K as the community have been agitating to get political reservation Since 1991.

These historical steps will strengthen Gujjar identity in the state and the people belonging to far flung areas of the state will be able to play their positive role in the development and progress of the region and country .

(The Author is a Tribal Researcher and can be mailed at javaidrahi@gmail.com )

https://www.dailyexcelsior.com/delimitation-reservation-for-sts-rekindle-new-hopes-for-gujjars-bakerwals/delim

J&K Gujjars- Bakerwals – Nowhere in State Affairs: Survey 2019

September 19, 2019

JK Gujjars- Nowhere in State Affairs: Survey 2019

By ; Dr Javaid Rahi  

The plight of Gujjar Tribe of Jammu and Kashmir can be perceived  from that  of their existence in Six Major Institutions and Government Departments is almost   nil   and the third largest  community of the State  hardly has its presence in decision making bodies, revealed a Survey Conducted on 70 year of Indian Independence , by Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation, an   National Organisation working on tribes, under its Scheme “Focus on Gujjars”.

Releasing the survey,   Dr. Javaid Rahi, National Secretary of the Foundation revealed today that Gujjars comprise nearly 15 to 20 % population in the State and the Government has provided 10% reservation to them under Scheduled Tribe category ,   but it is surprising that their  presence  in Seven Major Government Department and Institutions including   Civil Secretariat, Civil Administration, Police , Judiciary, J&K Bank, Jammu/ Kashmir Universities and State Gujjar Advisory Board   is almost negligible.

According  survey, Civil Secretariat,   where plans are formulated and executed for whole of the state have less than 1% employees  belongs to Gujjar /Bakerwal Tribe   while no Gujjar has been working  as Secretary to govt  or above.

The survey conducted in Civil Administration reveals that out of  163 IAS/ HODs/DGs others   in the civil administration of the state only 6 IAS belongs to Gujjar / Bakerwal Tribes.

In state Police department, the situation is more worst as among 2l DIGs  one belongs to Gujjrs / Bakerwal Tribe . Out of 15 IGs,ADGs/Dgs  there is no representation of Gujjars in this major law   enforcing agency of the state , the Survey revealed .

Survey Says , the important organ of the state which provide justice to people, i.e., State Judiciary , Since 1928, no Gujjar/Bakerwal  has been appointed as Judge of the state High Court and even today among the l4 sanctioned vacancies of the Judges of High Court , no Gujjar has been appointed or elevated till date as such.

Survey further reveals , there are 303 teachers in Jammu university which include Asstt Professors Associate  Professors and Professors. As per the schedule tribe reservation quota, the number of Gujjars should have been 30 and as per population ratio, 60. But there are only two  Asstt Professors  in University of Jammu belonging to Gujjar Tribe. The situation is worst in Kashmir University,   there are 364 Lecturers, Readers and Professors working in this   highest educational institution of Kashmir and as per constitutional provisions, 36 ought to have been from Gujjar Tribe  while there is not a single teacher appointed or working in University of   Kashmir.

The survey also focused,  the most prestigious financial institution, which is back bone of our economy, i.e ., J&K Bank, there are 3352 officer ranking staff members from Probationary Officers/Managers to the  Chairman of the Bank. As per the reservation provisions   of ST, 331 staff members ought to have from   Gujjar community and it is most ironic that there are only 5 (five ) employees working in J&K Bank as manger which   belong to Gujjar /Bakerwal Tribe.

The chart depicting existing representation of Gujjars /   Due Share as per Reservation Laws   in Seven prestigious Govt. Departments/Institutions of the state as on 16th of September 2007.Prepared. by Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation.

JK Civil Secretariat

Less than 1% of total strength of  Civil Secretariat

Civil Administration

No one is head of the Department such as Principal Secretary , Commissioner Secretary, Secretary to Govt belons to Gujjar/ Bakerwal Tribe

 

J&K Police

IGPs/ADGs/DGs 19 Nil 02
DIGs 21 01 02

 

JK Judiciary

High Court Judges 14 Nil 02

 

University of Jammu and Kashmir University

Jammu University teachers including Lecturers, Readers & Professors 302 02 Asstt Professor 30

 

Kashmir University teachers including Lecturers, Readers & Professors 364 Nil 36

 

Jammu Kashmir Bank

Managers/PO S Up-to Chairman 3352 05 Manger 335