Archive for November, 2018

Folk Music Instruments of J & K Gujjars-Bakrwals ; article by Dr. Javaid Rahi

November 13, 2018

Folk Music Instruments of J & K Gujjars-Bakrwals

by ; Dr. Javaid Rahi

The Gujjar tribes, mainly residing in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, play some musical instruments since times immemorial to create certain specific sounds of Music. Some instruments associated with them are part of their nomadic practises and some were adopted by them from other communities to add to their musical tradition.

There are a number of examples where Gujjar artists have made significant addition or alteration to the basic structure/formations of a borrowed music instrument to accommodate Gojri folk tunes to it.

While studying the musical practices popular among Gujjars, it has been found that they have their unique traditions. They hold distinct compositions and tunes which separate the Gojri music from Kashmiri, Dogri and Punjabi Music popular in Jammu and Kashmir and adjoining states. Among Gujjars this tradition of music and singing has been continuing for long and every new tribal artist through his performance adds to its ethos.

The main folk instruments used by Gujjars are mainly made from wood, animal skins, clay, metal or other material. Some of the musical instruments are as under:-

Alghojo : Alghojo is a type of flute made from a single hollow shaft of mainly wild-bamboo called ‘Nagal’ in Gojri with six or seven finger holes. A normal Alghoza is 7 to 11 inches long. For nomad Gujjars Alghoza is a sharpened divine instrument.

They make it locally in accordance with requirements.

Since this instrument is mainly associated with pastoral nomads and cowherds the Gujjars play traditional tunes on it. Popular folk-song and tunes are played on this instrument.

Jodhi /Do naal: Jodhi means two flutes (Aloghozas) which when played jointly are called Jodhi. The tune of the Jodhi instruments resembles with that of flute.

Playing of Jodhi is still popular in nomadic Gujjar and Bakerwal society. It is made of hilly bamboos by cuttings small reeds. Folk tunes are played on it.

The instrument is played with three fingers on each side.

The sound in Jodhi is generated by breathing into it quickly and the recapturing of the breath on each beat creates a bouncing, swing rapid rhythm.

It is also a popular choice among musicians for recording new albums. The signature tunes of Gojri programmes broadcast from All India Radio Jammu /Srinaga/Poonch are based on Jodhi tunes.

Banjli: Banjili is a flute which varies in size from less than 12″ to nearly 30″. Every nomad is fond of Banjli. They keep this in side-pockets of their upper wear.

They play the tune of folk songs like shopia, maahiya, jangbaz, besides the traditional tribal tunes on this instrument.

BISILI: Bisilli is a typical folk instrument used by nomads. It is triangular /trilateral in shape. The instrument has hollow belly with a hole at the centre and two holes on either side, besides a mouth pipe. The player blows his breath through the mouth pipe and plays in fingers on the side holes. It is made of clay and is hardened in fire. The instrument is used by the cattle or sheep tenders for singing the folk tunes.

This instrument when played sounds like whistling . It resembles with that of flute or algoza.

Leafs Instruments

Leafs of various trees are typically rolled into pipes for producing musical sounds by shepherd boys who generally use this device for flashing signals to their sheep and cattle.

They are also well versed in making different sounds by putting their fingers in mouth and folded tongue.

Chhung: Chung is an instrument made of Iron with one wire of copper. The instrument is five to seven inches long. This mouth organ once very popular among nomads is dying very fast. Just a few Chung player are left among Gujjars of Jammu and Kashmir.

This tribal Chung is like a 5 to 7 inch Trishul- a weapon of Hindus -with “three spears” and is different from the Persian Chung – an Iranian harp.

This instrument has round curve joining two straight lines. Between two straight lines there is thin wire mainly made of wire which is the main part of this instrument.

Shepherds play traditional tunes on it through mouth.

Yaktaro : A “one-string” instrument is also popular among Gujjars of Jammu and adjoining areas ntowards Punjab. Gujjar artists use this instrument to sing Sufiyana Gojri poetry.

Eik Tara’s main structure is made of wood with one string.

Dhool: Dhool is drum. It is large wooden cylindrical shaped with two heads mainly made of skin of animals. It is generally struck on one side with a lose “L’ type wooden stick called “Damno” bowed at the end, and with a large thin stick called “ Chinj” on the other side, though it is also played by the bare hands. It is the principal accompaniment for the “Sharnai (oboe).

Dhool players in Gujjars are called “Mirasi”. They are invited to play Dhools on Marriage, Khatnal, Leetari, Satranj Chekai, Laadi and on other celebrations.

For Dances they play the beats mainly called “Dhukro” for Gujjars.

Sharnai : Sharnai is derived from Persian word Surr (feast) Nay (pipe-reed).This is an instrument usually accompanied with “Dhool”. “Sharnai” is largely known as a wind instrument .

The Sharnai players are called ‘Merasi’ in Gojri. Usually the senior most person among a drum beating team plays the Sharnai.

Dhool and Sharnai is an important part of any ritual performed by the Gujjars.

Chimtoo: this is a kitchen tool (tong in English) mainly used to grip and lift objects. Gujjars used it as an instrument of music with certain modifications. Chimtoo is used as accompanying instrument to add the verity to Dhool or other rhythms.

It is used by artists while singing mystic poetry.

Ghadhoo/ Ghodholi: Ghara is earthen pot / pitcher which is also used as a Musical Instruments by Gujjar artists. In Gujjar marriages and other ceremonies, women folk use it as a musical instrument to draw the tunes.

In some tribal areas where Dhool is not allowed owing to religious binding, Ghara is used as Dhool for singing and Dancing.

Saargi (Tota) : The Tota Saargi is popular in Gojri Musical Tradition since long. This is slightly different to “Sarangi”- a string instrument used in Hindustani classical and other Folk music. In Gojri Saargi is very popular instrument and is played in singing of “Baet”, “Barramah’ and other Gojri folk songs.

The Saargi is made of Wood, animal skin (Madh) with 4 up wires and 11 down wires.The helping organ of Sargi is called “Gaj” in Gojri.

In every Tribal locality we find some popular Sarangi players. Ustad Mohammad Hussain Merasi, Ustad Ghulam Mohammad Danslaya, Ustad Jatoo Merasi, Ustad Noora Merasi and Bashir Mastana are some popular names who sing Gojri folk on Sargi.

The Gojri Music and Folk –Instruments of Gujjars are very rich in term of their inheritance. Other communities residing in Gujja populated area also share the same culture.

During the course of research it has been observed that a number of folk instruments which were in use in past are extinct rapidly.

There is an urgent need to preserve these old instruments with preservation of their noting in writing and audio-visual form with all notations for all generations to come. (The author is working as Chief Editor in J&K Academy of art, Culture and languages and can be mailed at : javaidrahi@gmail.com)

Gojri folk instruments

http://www.dailyexcelsior.com/gojri-folk-instruments/

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Socio-Cultural Characteristics of Gujjars of J&K by Dr. Javaid Rahi

November 8, 2018
Socio-Cultural Characteristics of Gujjars of J&K by Dr. Javaid Rahi
Greater Kashmir
Publish Date: Jul 10 2007 12:00PM


The Gujjar population of J&K is in need of reforms for their socio-economic development. Here Government and NGOs have a role to play, writes Dr. Javaid Rahi
The Gujjars, who live Nomadic life today, have once ruled the entire Northern India . Modern day Gujarat was called “GUJAR-RATA” or Gujjar Rashtra meaning thereby “Kingdom of Gujjars”. This was the area where Gujjars flourished and their rule spread over entire Northern India.
Gujjar tribe appeared on the horizon of India during 5th century A.D, with the advent of white Huns and they established their rule on northern parts. History revealed that the entire Northern India was ruled by the Ashkani, Panwar, Baruoch Chaweri and Parthar Gujjars. There states of Gujjar kingdoms present a brief account of the Glorious past of Gujjars. Not only this, the immortal remains of Gujjar past tell their stories in the whole central Asia and adjoining areas.
Presently Gujjars live in above one dozen States of India, with their distinctive life style. These States include Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Utter Pradesh, M.P, Utteranchal and Gujarat, besides a few areas in Delhi
The frontier, Baluchistan and Punjab province of Pakistan also have number of colonies of Gujjars. Not only this but in ethnic Afghanistan, the Gujjars are holding important Positions.
The State of Jammu and Kashmir has seen the advent of Gujjars during 9th and 10th century A.D. This was the period when Islam was spreading in northern India. According to historians there are 4 major reasons for settling of Gujjars in Jammu and Kashmir.
* The wars for throne in Gujarat and adjoining States, resulting in fighting and exodus of Gujjars after their defeat.
* The frequent earth quacks and intolerable secession in Gujarat, Rajasthan and neighboring States.
* To explore new meadows and pastures for sustenance of life and cattle.
*In addition to the above reasons, after embracing Islam it was also imperative on their part to migrate to new Muslim dominated areas.

Gujjar Life Style:
Gujjar are rich in terms of Cultural Heritage. They have distinction over other identities of the State so for as their Culture is concerned. Gujjars have their own language GOJRI which is an offshoot of Indo-Aryan language. Gujjars have their own Costumes, Traditions, food habits, living habits and Arts, and Crafts which varies from area to area.
Bakerwal Gujjar mostly wear Shalwar Qamiaz, Vaskat/Angoo and Pagheri (Headgear) while their Women folk Wear long Gown called Jubo/ Pheerni/ Shawl /Cap and Jotti/ Jora.
Dodhi Gujjar wear “Pagh” /Qameiz and Tehmad while their ladies wear Shirt with strips Choridar shalwar and Jotti.
The favorite dishes of Gujjar are “Maki / Bajra ki Roti” Ganhar / Sarsoon ka Sag, Lassi, Kalari, Karan etc.It is surprising that Gujjar are mostly Vegetarians.
The Banhara Gujjars mainly live in “Kullas” made from Special type of Grass, While Bakerwals live in temporary Doharas and in Tamboos. Settled Gujjars mainly live in “Kothas”
The State of J&K has five big Sub-Tribe of Gujjars which include:
1. Banhara / Dodhi Gujjars.
Dodhi Gujjars who are presently inhabited in areas of Jammu/Udhampur/Kathua and Doda. The main business of this sub-tribe is dairy Products etc.
2. Bakarwal Gujjars:
This Sub-tribe resides almost in every District of the State in a Substantial number however, they are mostly the residents of Kalakote, Riasi, Nowshaira, Bandi-Pura, Shopian, Kulgam, Pahlgam, Tral and Uri etc.
3. Alahiwal Gujjars:-
This Sub-tribe has migrated from the frontier province of Pakistan and are mostly nomads.
4. Kanhari Gujjars:-
This Sub-tribe has migrated from Swat and Hazara areas presently in Pakistan. Now a days Good Number of these Gujjars live in KalaKote of Rajouri District.
5. Semi-nomad Gujjars:
One more Sub-Tribe of Gujjars are those who have by and large prominently settled in various parts of the State.
There are almost 150 casts /Ghots of Gujjars in the State J&K, out of total 900 Casts of Gujjar Scattered in the Sub- continent.
A substantial number of Gujjars reside in every district of Jammu & Kashmir State. However the data provided by the Govt. agencies and ground realties differ from each other. renowned linguist Mr. G. A. Greorson puts the  number of Gojri Speaking people in 1901 as 1,30000 while as the census conducted in 1931, the numbers of Gojri Speaking (Gujjars) people has been recorded as 2,17,762/ . In 1961 census this number has been decreased and mentioned as 2, 09227 there by citing the reason of mass migration of Gujjars to Pakistan.
Keeping in view the pathetic condition of Gujjar Tribe, the State level Gujjar Bakerwal Advisory Board was Constituted in 1973-74 .The main aim and objective of this board is over all and multi-dimensional development of Gujjars. To set right Social –Economical and Educational Scenario the Board has taken Several steps for Gujjars which include:- · Establishment of 13 Gujjar Hostels.
· Establishing Gujjar colonies for Settling of Gujjar tribe at different place of the State. · Repairs of the Seven Major of migratory routes of Gujjar tribe · For promotion and development Gojri language and Literature to established Gojri Section in J&K Academy of Art Culture & Languages.
· Allotment of shops near district headquarters for their business.
· Providing of Stipend, free uniform, books to Gujjar Students.
· Establishing of Mobile Schools and Hospital for Migratory Nomadic Gujjar and Bakerwals.
· Reserving the Seats in Professional College of the State for Gujjar Students.
· To be the getting epi-Center for the Struggle for Schooled tribe.
· After getting the S.T Status, to make efforts for implantation of various Schemes.
The condition of Gujjar after giving them the status of Schedule tribe:
Schedule tribe Status was given to Gujjar on 19th April 1991. Seats where reserved in Employment and /Promotions Technical/ Preformed and other institutions.
During the past 12 years the Govt. of India has implemented tribal sub-plan on broader bases for overall development of Gujjars. It is need of the time that the funds received under tribal Sub-plan are utilized in a proper way.

Role of NGO’S:
The number of NGO’S working for Gujjar and Bakerwal sect is very low. A few NGOS are presently active representing specific areas of the State. However a few NGO’S like Gujjar Desh Charitable trusts, Tribal Research & Cultural Foundation, Gujjar Bakerwal Conference are working for the development of this downtrodden community.
The Gujjar population of J&K which has been given status of Schedule Tribe needs to be given new dimension on socio- Economic front. The government and NGO’s need to share the responsibilities on this account which include:
Purposed Educational Reforms for Gujjars
· Enhancement of students in 13 Gujjar Bakerwal Hostels of J&K and construction of Gujjar Hostels for Boys/Girls on Block and Tehsil level so as to provide free education facilities to the Nomadic Tribe.
· Shifting of Gujjar and Bakerwal Hostels Residential School on the pattern of Kenderya Novidiya Vidhyalya
· Enhancement in Mobile schools in each district of state and accountability of the teacher at various levels.
· Providing Local staff to the for-flung areas and enhancement of stipend to the to the Gujjar students So that they may continue their education.
· Enhancement of seats in Technical/Professional colleges for Gujjar students.
· Establishment of permanent schools near temporary shelters (Kulla) of Banhara Gujjars and Jammu Kathua/ Udhampur and Doda Districts.
· Establishment of Adult Education Mobile centers with nomadic Kafllas.
· Proper Training of children in mobile Anganwari centers.
· Enhancement of Admission/ Quota in School collages and Institutions for Gujjar students.
(The author is the Secretary of Tribal Research & Cultural Foundation, and can be mailed at javaidrahi@ yahooo.co.in)

 

Gujjars of Jammu and Kashmir :  Socio-Culture and Economic characteristics ; Dr. Javaid Rahi

November 8, 2018

Gujjars of Jammu and Kashmir :  Socio-Culture and Economic characteristics ; Dr. Javaid Rahi

They are a people with a history of their own. They need be studied from social, cultural and from political perspective as well, writes Dr. Javaid Rahi
In the Himalayan regions, Gujjar is considered an important and historical tribe. This tribe has ruled over many princely states in northern India for hundred of years and left their imprints in the Himalayan ranges and inscribed them in such a way that they could not be destroyed even after thousand of years. The legacy of Gujjars is as old as their identity. Famous scholar Mohammed Yusuf Teing writes about Gujjars in his research thesis: Gujjar Shinakhat Ka Safar? as; ?At some point of time, Gujjar was an educated, prosperous and dignified community. Their reference is not restricted to the books of Indian, Persian, Arabic and Chinese historian but are talked of as to belonging from Gurjistan to Central India
To trace the origin of Gujjar we have to interpret the word Gujjar. Till now the word Gujjar has been interpreted in a number of ways. First perspective has been forwarded by Prof. Abdul Gani Shashi after detailed study of Arabic and Persian history. According to him, Gujjars share with Baduo tribe of Arab, a common lifestyle, way of living and culture. It is believed that Gujjars along with Badu tribe are associated Khizir tribe, who left for Koh-e kaf during the era of Christ along with their, camels and other domestic animals. According to him, the word Khizir got changed to Garz to Garzar and with the passage of time this tribe came to be called as Gujjar.
Abdul Malik Chouhan in the book Taarekh-e-Shahan Gujjar at page number 49 has described the word Gujjar in a diffrent way .
In Islamic encyclopaedia .? It has been said that why Gujjar community was spirited and courageous and they were known for their shrewdness i.e. despotism in the vicinity of Iran and had destroyed many empires and nations under their reign, that is why they were symbolised first of all by a wolf (Bhediya)locakly known as Gurj. Hence, this word get transformed from Gurj to Gurjur to Gurez and later on these people were called by the name of Gurj or Gujjar or Gurjar. Scholars of twentieth century have evolved the third perspective according to which thousands of years ago this community moved from a place called Georgia i.e. Georgia/Gurjistan to India via Afghanistan. Hence, because of belonging to Gurjistan, they were called as Gujjar. Anthropological surveys of India have authenticated this perspective.
The fourth perspective is that the History of Gujjars and Hindu manuscripts reveal that Gujjars were one of the communities who were devotee of lord Krishna. Gujjars took lord Krishna as their ideal and adopted their life style. For a long time they were known for preservation of cows and it is because of cows that some of the castes of Hindus were known as those owning cows. Similarly, Gaochar were called as Gaujar who later on become Gujjar. Another perspective is of Chowdhary Fayez Ahmed written in ?Marat Gujjran Tareekh? who consulted several scholars for verification. According to him, when Gujjars used to rule in India, their armies used to fight with Gurz i.e. Gada (weapon of lord Hanuman) which was their symbol, which later become Gurzar and then changed to Gurjar or Gujjar. It is in this context that Gujjar tribe came to be known. One more perspective also linked with Gurz. History reveals that these people considered cow as their protector and loved cow as their mother. Hence the weapon with which they used to fight was shaped as the head of cow, because of which people of other countries called them ?Gau-sar? which later on become Gujjar.
It has been said that Alexander son who adopted the title of ?Gausar? which later on become Gurji and their children came to be called as Gujjar. But this perspective has not been verified by any other scholar. There are about half a dozen other Gujjar Histories written on Gujjars amongst which like Shahan-e-Gujjar, Gujjar Itihas, Gujjar aur Gujri Zaban, Tareekh-e-Gujran, Gujjar Tareekh aur Sakafat . It has been written in all these that the word Gujjar has been derived from Persian word ?Gauzar? which means body builder (pehalwan) or fighter. Because this community was famous for its moves and tactics in wars, that is why people called them Gauzor who later came to be called as Gujjars. This community is also called Gadjeen. There is a book of Hafiz Abdul Haq Sialkoti titled Tareekh-e-Gojran that verified this view.
Their is this view also that because of some issues, one community shifted from Grozni area of Russia and entered India after going through various ways. These people were called as Gurozar as they belonged to Grozni who later on become Gujjar. This view is authenticated by the presence of some castes in Gujjars based on the names of regions in Russia. E.g. Chichi Gujjars from Chechnya, Bajran Gujjar from Bajrania. The historical view related to Gujjars is very interesting. When Roman invaded Greece for the first time, the community which countered them was Gracia, located on the borders of Greece. Romans called them Grexie, Greece, Gruj which later on become Gurjar which eventually came to be called as Gujjar.  Shirt
Colonel Tort argues that Gujjars are not descendants of Turkey or Arab. He links them to a huge empire. In ?Rajasthan History? Col. Tort states that Gujjars are Greek and the World Gujjar or Garjar is of Greek origin. Page number 39 of Tareekh-e-Kokaz writes that Gujjars have come from Turkistan, and they are descendants of Noah. They are of the view that the word Gujjar is derived from ?Garji? who was descendant of Noah. Shri R.D Bhandari believes that Gujjar is an important community amongst the various Himalayan communities. History tells us that these nomadic people used to rule North India at some time. Gujjar entered India in fifth century A.D. along with Huns, and they are one of the communities of Central Asia. According to English scholar Kennedy, Gujjars used to worship Sun so they entered India from Iran. In a book titled ?Harsh Chitra? written in seventh century A.D., is written that king Harshavardan who was a Hun was given the title of ?Garjar Praja Graha? which mean that brave Gujjar who used to protect his community. Famous scholar Kanigam says that Gujjars are present in India even before Christ. Mr. V.A Smith is amongst those scholars who believe that Gujjars are locals. Rana Ali Hussan Chouhan writes in his history that the word Gujjar is derived from the word Gurjar or Garjar, which has been used by maharishi Valmiki in Ramayana. E.g. in Valmiki?s Ramayana, there is written, ?Gato Dashrat swargyo gartaro? – which means king Dashrat who was brave amongst us kshatriyas, departed for heaven. A big chunk of scholars, agree that Gujjars actually have come from Georgia, which is located in Russia and is often called as Gurjistan. Till date whatever has been said or told about Gujjars cannot be verified logically till date. However, all scholars agree that this community had arrived in the Indian horizon in fifth to sixth century A.D. Expert anthropologist Dr. Cornik has said that through research it has been found that there is no major difference between the faces of Gujjars with that of ancient Indian communities. Gujjars have ruled over Gujarat, Bhopal, Kannauj, Ajmer etc. from fifth century to Fourteenth century A.D. Rajtarangni reveals that Gujjars used to rule over the states and surrounding areas of Kashmir Valley.
History has it that with the fall of Gupt kingdom Gujjars registered a rise. But they were limited to till North India. With reference to history of Rajasthan, it has been revealed that Gujjars had been the residents of J&K since third century A.D. to fifth century A.D. However, some scholars are of the view that Gujjars entered J&K in tenth or eleventh century.
Kashmiri Scholar Motilal Saqi has written in his thesis ?Gujjar Pratihaar? as, ?Harishchandra and his three generations had ruled in between 550 A.D -640 A.D. After that kings of royal family had ruled till eight generations. Thus, North India was under the control of Gujjars for 300 years.? Great scholar Dr. Jamil Jalbi of Pakistan has written in his book ?Urdu Adab ki Tareekh? at page 79 in his first edition in this way, ?One form of Urdu language is found in Gujarat which is called as Gojri or Gujarat dialect. History tells us that Gujjar community entered India as conquerors and divided its southern occupied areas into three parts: the biggest was called as Maharath, second as Gujrath and the third as Swarath. The conquerors from Turkey found it difficult to pronounce Gujrath so they modified it to Gujarat.?
One usually finds the proofs of presence and rule of Gujjars in Kashmir form the external aggressions. According to history, Mohd. Gaznavi attacked Kashmir twice but he failed both the times and many kingdoms came up in Kashmir from 1038 A.D to 1326 A.D. Tung Rai Gujjar was the commander in chief opposite Muhammad Gaznavi. This was the period when king Tarlochan Pal Khattana sought refuge to J&K. Sarvari Kasana writes in his essay, ?Jammu Kashmir par Gujjron ki Hakumat? about acceptance of Islam by Gujjars as, ?in 1301, King Ranjan appointed Shah Mir Gujjar as his minister, who had already adopted Islam. Shah Mir sat on the throne of Kashmir as Wazir Shamsudin. The proof of his being a Gujjar can be traced in chapter Kashmir of?Ain-e-Akbari?. There is also written that Shah Mir considered himself as descendants of Pandavas. Four sons of Shah Shamsudin were rulers of Kashmir. One of them had ruled over Lohar Kot which is now known by the name of Loren in district thingych. K.D Maini in ?Tareekh thingych? writes in eighteenth century that thingych was ruled over by Sango Gujjar who was a brave king.
History tells us that Gujjars have ruled from Gujarat, Jodhpur, and Kathiawad to Baliya 641 century A.D. and during this time it was known as Gujjar Desh. Chawada and Solanki Gujjars have ruled over Deccan Gujarat from 610 A.D -942 A.D, while Gujjars ruled over here from 700 A.D-1573A.D. Central Institute of Indian language, Mysore have prepared a Grammar, in which is written that Gujjar left the plain areas after their decline and shifted to Himalayan regions. These people used to attack enemies while remaining hidden in hilly areas, but this trend could not last long and slowly they became the inhabitants of these areas. Many kings in J&K had enlisted Gujjars as criminal tribes, so that they can snatch power from them to prevent them from being autonomous. Different kings used to keep an eye over Gujjars who were there in their army. History tells us that in every period, each kingdom called rajputs and Sikhs and other Marshall communities from Punjab and settled them around Gujjar inhabited colonies, to protect themselves from attacks of Gujjars which they used to carry from hills to plain areas. Even today in whole of J&K where ever Gujjar colonies are located one can find some houses of Sikhs and Muslim Rajputs which verifies the policies of earlier kingdoms. During Dogra period and Sikh period, landed estates and sub divisions went to people, while Gujjars got only meadows. During Dogra rule Gujjars were not participative and they could not reach or acquire a high position in their administration in proportion to their population. As a result, the views of Dogra Rajput rulers were also not different from earlier rulers. However, later on, three to four Gujjars got access to the King?s council.
To remove backwardness of Gujjars and to bring awareness in them, Gujjar-Jat Conference was established in 1931. This conference went to different places in J&K and awakened Gujjars socially, politically and culturally and directed them towards education. Gujjar leaders of state established this conference. In 1947 thousands of Gujjars were massacred in Jammu and surrounding areas and those who escaped went to Pakistan but major part of Gujjars from thingych, Rajouri and Kashmir didn?t shifted and resided over here only. After partition every group got exposed to awareness but Gujjars remained negligent and ignorant. They were neither in power, nor was there anyone to talk about them.
After patation the decade of 1970s saw a new turn when the state government allotted special budget of Rs. 13 crores for the development and progress of Gujjars under which a Gujjar consultation board was set up. This board?s suggestion led to the establishment of Gujjar hostels and Gujjar kanuniyan to bring about political and educational awareness among Gujjars. Government of India gave the status of S. T to Gujjars on 19 April 1991 and it is only after that, that their real development has been possible. At the political level, Gujjars still are not that aware, but their inclination towards education is flourishing. But still they have to carry a long war to acquire seats for them in state legislature. In a nutshell, we can say that Gujjars are emerging as a distinct cultural, political and social identity as a whole. They have to cross many landmarks and there is no reason, but to hope they will succeed in their endevours.

Socio-Cultural Characterstics of Gujjars of J&K

Gujjar Life Style

Gujjar are rich in terms of Cultural Heritage. They have distinction over other identities of the State so for as their Culture is concerned. Gujjar have their own language GOJRI which is an offshoot of Indo-Aryan language.

Gujjar have their our Costumes ,Traditions , food habits, living habits and Arts, and Crafts. Which varies from area to area.

Bakerwal Gujjar mostly wear Shalwar Qamiaz, Vaskat/Angoo and Pagheri (Headgear) while their Women folk Wear long Gone called Jubo/ Pheerni/ Shawal /Cap and Jotti/ Jora.

Dodhi Gujjar wear “Pagh” /Qameiz and Tehmad while their ladies wear Shirt with strips Choridar shalwar and Jotti.

The favorite dishes of Gujjar are “Maki / Bajra ki Roti” Ganhar / Sarssoon ko Sag, Lassi, Kalari, Karan, etc.It is surprising that Gujjar are mostly Vegetarians.

The Banhara Gujjars mainly live in “Kullas” made from Special type of Grass, While Bakerwals live in temporary Doharas and in Tamboos . Settled Gujjars mainly live in “Kothas”

The State of J&K has five big Sub-Tribe of Gujjars which include:-

1. Banhara / Dodhi Gujjars.

Dodhi Gujjars who are presently inhabited in areas of Jammu/Udhampur/Kathua

and Doda. The main business of this sub-tribe is dairy Products etc.

2. Bakarwal Gujjars :-

This Sub-tribe resides almost in every District of the State in a Substantial number however, they are mostly the residents of Kalakote, Riasi, Nowshaira, Bandi-Pura, Shopian, Kulgam, Pahlgam, Tral and uri etc.

3. Alahiwal Gujjars:-

This Sub-tribe has migrated from the frontier province of Pakistan and are

mostly nomads.

4. Kanhari Gujjars:-

This Sub-tribe has migrated from Swat and Hazara areas Presently in

Pakistan . Now a days Good Number of these Gujjars live in KalaKote of

Rajouri District.

5. Semi-nomad Gujjars:-

One more Sub-Tribe of Gujjars are those who have by and large

prominently settled in various parts of the State ..

There are almost 150 casts /Ghots of Gujjars in the State J&K, out of total 900 Casts of Gujjar Scattered in the Sub- continent.

A substantial number of Gujjars resides in every district of Jammu & Kashmir State however the data provided by the Govt. agencies and ground realties differ from each other. The renowned linguistics Mr. G. A. Greorson has mentioned the number of Gojri Speaking people in 1901 as 1,30000 while as the census conducted in 1931, the numbers of Gojri Speaking (Gujjars) people has been recorded as 2,17,762/ in 1961 census this number has been decreased and mentioned as 2,09227 there by citing the reason of mass migration of Gujjars to Pakistan.

 

Keeping in view the pathetic condition of Gujjar Tribe, the State level Gujjar Bakerwal Advisory Board was Constituted in 1973-74 .The main aim and objective of this board is over all and multi-dimensional development of Gujjars. To set right Social –Economical and Educational Scenario the Board has taken Several steps for Gujjars which include:- · Establishment of 13 Gujjar Hostels.

Gujjar Economy

Economy has always proved to be the foundation stone of Politics. This not an exception with the   Gujjar Tribe, however, there has always been an exploitation  components with Gujjar politics which is related to this   poor economic condition of this down trodden community . In order to examine the impact of Gujjar Economics over Politics and vice- versa,  it would be in the fitness of things,   in case we examine the basic characteristics of Gujjar Economy ;

  1. Labour Class
  2. Agriculture Class
  3. Service Class
  4. Business Class
  5. a)Dealing with Milk and Milk Products
  6. b)Dealing with  Mutton and Woolen products
  7. c)Other business related Activities
  8. Artisans Class: The people associated with professional handicrafts, handloom

                              and all semi-skilled activities.

Labour Class

About 60% of Gujjar population earn their livelihood from labour and related activities. They are engaged with such activities for the whole year. A brief session with their agricultural lands and in winter they migrated to Punjab and other surrounding states. They are also called Migratory labourers. A very low percentage of Gujjars   also work out side the country and they are mainly from Poonch, Rajouri and Jammu districts. The trend to earn livelihood from out side the country was established 1980-82 and mostly these labourers prefer to go to the   Gulf Countries . The main difficulty and shortcoming in Gujjar labour class is that they are mostly unskilled and non technical. Therefore, there are less chance   of their advancements in this sector as whole.

Agriculture Class:-

There are substantial  number of labourers engaged with Agricultural sector but owing to the non availability  of furtile Agricultural land they are not in a position to cultivate such agricultural lands to its optimum capacity. They   restrict themselves to only one crop per year from such agricultural lands rest of the period they spend doing hard labour in other agricultural lands belonging   land lord (Zameendars)  non Gujjar class.

Business Class.:

The business class among the Gujjars may constitute a very minimum percentage. The business in Jammu , Kathua  and Udhampur and Doda markets is  in the hands  of Dogras and Kashmiri’s , while is Poonch , Rajouri ,Paharis  and in Baramulla, Kupwara and other   districts the business activities are mostly run by Kashmiris and other non Gujjars like Punjabi, Pahari speaking people.  Of course there are a few shops in Gujjar dominated villages which belong to Gujjars.

 

  1. a)Business based on Milk and Milk Products
  2. b)Business based on Mutton and Woolen products

The Gujjars engaged with the business of milk and milk products belong mainly to Jammu, Udhampur, Kathua and Doda districts. They are also victims of exploitation and non availability of required infrastructure and formalities. They are not having the required number of milk giving   animals, contrary they are having maximum number of animal who are not  worth milking. For example if any Dodhi Gujjar have 10 buffalos , approximately   three  are pregnant “GHABAN” , four are worthy milking  “MALANALI” one is suffering from any diseases and rest have crossed age of milking or fertility   called  ” KHANGHAR” . The income received  from marketing  the milk and milk products is spend on feeding the animals. The rate of milk and feed are contrary to each other   and Dodhi. Gujjars  find it very difficult,  rather impossible to make the both ends meet, it has   drastically  effected  the economical potential of Dodhi. Gujjars and are in the same position which they were hundreds of years before .

Mutton/Woolen products:

Since the time immemorial the demand for mutton and wool was met mainly by Bakerwal Gujjars  but during the last 25 years it has declined drastically  and maximum people associated with the process have all along shifted to new professions. This is mainly because even today 80% of demand for Mutton and Woolen products is met  by the imports from the outside of the state. The mutton and Woolen products of Bakerwal Gujjars have market in Leh, Kargil and other far flung areas of the state only.

The middle men called “Kothidar”  who purchase mutton from Bakerwals often exploit these simple and illiterate tribesman, therefore, this section of Gujjars which was supposed to be economically viable,   is beaten by exploiters and ill planning.

Service Class:

After 1974-75 the Gujjars saw a new change. This was time when Mrs. Indra Gandhi , the then Prime Minister of India ,  sanctioned  a package Rs 13 crores for the State and for the upliftment of this down trodden tribe .Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah who was Chief Minister of state,   at that point of  time appointed his wife Begum Akbar Jan as vice Chairperson of Gujjar and Bakerwal State Advisory Board. A University could have bee errected from Rs 13 crores but it ended with the construction of a few Gujjar hostels. During 1990-91 Central Government granted Schedule Tribe status for   Gujjars ,  besides nomad Gujjar  children got Scholarships and Mobile school facilities   which resulted in encouraging educational trends . The Gujjars emerged as a vibrant political entity and  slowly and gradually it is   yielding results and today there are  2 IFS  offices, 3 Sr. KAS officer, 25 Jr. KAS Officers , and around 50 to 75 Gazetted   officers. There is only one Under Secretary in J&K civil Secretariat. Only 0.01% of the Gujjar populations is working in central and state govt. services which include a maximum chunk of those who are employed in security forces including police while school teachers   also form part of this statistics.

Gujjar Artisans;

There is dearth of trained Gujjar artisans  in various handicrafts. Therefore, they constantly dependent on  the items needed by them from the market and   the Barbers, Blacksmiths, cobblers and other artisans also move with them to various locations. These people have adopted their own  way of life and Gujjars   have accepted  them as part of their social group.

Impact  of Economy over Gujjar Politics :-

From the above statistics,  it is evident that 90% to 96% of Gujjar population is economically backward and in the given circumstances it is not difficult to exploit Gujjars politically, by the National, Regional Political Parties and other elite Groups of the area. Since the Gujjar labour class is not having proper skill so they are exploited by Contractors/Maids and middle men. The Contractors/ Maids and middle men are having affiliation with Political Parties,  therefore, Political exploitation to labour class is immanent. The elected members to the state legislators   from Gujjar dominated areas are having the background to be the Government /Army/MES Contractors/ Maids . These 95% legislatures/ Political activists   from all Constitutes of Poonch , Rajouri , Karnah , Uri and other Gujjar dominated areas are professionally Contractors or / Maids . Further the Gujjar dominated areas are having Muqadam, SardarChowkidars and Peers who are also associated with Political parties as a workers   and by the way of close dominance over the  Gujjar labour class they continue to exploit the  Gujjar vote bank.

The person having sound financial footing among Bakerwal and Banharas  Society  is their Mukdum or Sardars they also dominate the Business Class associated with   Milk, Mutton and Wool in respect of Gujjar Vote Bank .

 A new trend for the last 25 years has emerged where the Gujjar Service Class also actively dominate Gujjar vote bank in rural areas because of the poverty illiteracy , and bad economic condition the Gujjars are guided by emotions,   sweet dreams and hallow commitments.

 The agricultural class though some what  politically conscious  is mainly   dominated  by land owners called “Zimindar/ Zaildar or Chakidar in far flung areas. This class is now a days instrumental in creating in  establishing political trends among the Gujjars and they are the people  mainly influence the Gujjar politics .

Owing to lack of elite class among the Gujjars,  they are unable to harness the required results. They are not much able to dominate their own factions and yield from various sections of Gujjars and non Gujjars. The business class in Gujjars is driven by   non Gujjars. The relations of buyer and seller constitute  a sensitive relation and they influence each other. Since the Gujjars are   economically backward therefore, they often lend cash and other item from market which is dominated by non Gujjars. During  the election time , these poor Gujjars   are  influenced by their transaction with businessmen and  use their voting power as per the wishes of non Gujjars.

To conclude,  if the Gujjar leadership has to be  Winner or  Decider    in the power politics they have to think in terms of making Gujjars economically viable so that they are not depended on the other communities which oftenly exploit them during elections. The service class among the Gujjars   is expending too and in near future they are going to be the main policy framers  for Gujjars in rural areas of Jammu and Kashmir. Therefore, they must think in terms of making Gujjar economically cautious , Politically   vibrant ,  this would be  key to success.

· Establishing Gujjar colonies for Settling of Gujjar tribe at a different place of the State. · Repairs of the Seven Major of migratory routes of Gujjar tribe · For promotion and development Gojri language and Literature to established Gojri Section in J&K Academy of Art Culture & Languages.

· Allotment of shops near district headquarters for the businesses ..

· Providing of Stipend, free uniform, books to Gujjar Students.

· Establishing of Mobile Schools and Hospital for Migratory Nomadic Gujjar and Bakerwals.

· Reserving the Seats in Professional College of the State for Gujjar Students.

· To be the getting epi- Center for the Struggle for Schooled tribe.

· After getting the S.T Status, to make efforts for implantation of various Schemas.

The condition of Gujjar after giving them the status of Schedule tribe

Schedule tribe Status was given to Gujjar on 19 th April 1991 . Seats were reserved in Employment and /Promotions Technical/ Preformed and other institutions.

During part 12 years the Govt of India has implemented tribal sub-plan on broader bases resulting in the overall developing of Gujjar. It is need of the time that the funds received under tribal Sub-plan be utilized in a proper way.

Role of NGO’S

The number of NGOS working for Gujjar and Bakerwal sect is very low.A few NGOS are Presently active representing specific areas of the State.However, a few NGO’S like Gujjar Desh Charitable trust, Tribal Research & Cultural Foundation, Gujjar Bakerwal Conference are working for the development of this down trodden community.

The Gujjar population of J&K which has been given status of Schedule Tribe needs to given new diminution on socio- Economic front. The government and NGO’s needs to share the responsibilities on this account which include:-

Purposed Educational Reforms for Gujjars

· Enhancement of students in 13 Gujjar Bakerwal Hostels of J&K and construction of Gujjar Hostels for Boys/Girls on Block and Tehsil level so as to provide free education facilities to the Nomadic Tribe.

· Shifting of Gujjar and Bakerwal Hostels Residential School on the pattern of Kenderya Novidiya Vidhyalya

· Enhancement in Mobile schools in each district of state and accountability of the teacher at various levels.

· Providing Local staff to the for-flung areas and enhancement of stipend to the to the Gujjar students. So that they may continue their education.

· Enhancement of seats in Technical/Professional colleges for Gujjar students.

· Establishment of permanent schools near temporary shelters (Kulla) of Banhara Gujjars an Jammu Kathua/ Udhampur and Doda Districts.

· Establishment of Adult Education Mobile centers with nomadic Kafllas.

· Proper Training of children in mobile Anganwari centers.

· Enhancement of Admission/ Quota in School collages and Institutions for Gujjar students.

Purposed Socio -Economic Reforms for Gujjars :-

· Establishment of centers for sale wool/ Dairy and Mutton Products on district and Tehsil headquarters for consumption of these products.

· Providing of high breed sheep Goats/ Buffaloes and horses to Gujjar.

· Establishment of various unites to give boast to folk Arts and crafts of Gujjar tribe.

· Providing of easy term loan for establishment new unites of Arts and Crafts.

· Providing of fertile agriculture land to nomadic Gujjars away from the LOC/ Boarder areas.

· For economic prosperity the NGO’S should play their education role in Providing modern technology to Gujjar.

· Establishment of Co-operative Societies for Banhara and Bakerwal Gujjars.

· On the Pattern Amole India Ltd, Milk plants be established for optimum Use of the products.

· Providing of feed and other foder to Banharas/ Bakerwals on Subsides rates.

· Introduction of Modern technology for the Gujjars who have adopted agriculture means livelihood.

· Providing of frees insurance covers by the Govt. to Nomadic people and their cattle .

· Providing of professional skills to illiterate Gujjar men and women so as to establish their own unites.

· Providing of Govt. Jobs to educated Gujjar Youth so that inclination towords education an encase.

· Making available water, electricity and other basic facilities to the Gujjars living in hilly areas so that they any develop agriculture activities .

· Establishment low level Milk plants in each districts of the State so that the Gujjars can market their product at reasonable rates

· Providing of necessary training to look after agricultural level.

· Construction Road to the areas where Gujjars live in Dohak / Behkes in the summer season.

· Optimum use of the natural resources in and around the areas where Gujjar resides.

· Construction of Kacha roads in Peer Panchal areas.

· Providing Assistance to Gujjars living below the poverty live.

· Proper propagation of tribal Schemes over Print and Electronic.

(The author is the Secretary of Tribal Research & Cultural Foundation, email javaidrahi@ gmail.com)

 

Extend ‘ tribal & forest  rights’ to J&K — by Dr. Javaid Rahi

November 8, 2018

Extend ‘ tribal & forest  rights’ to J&K -a demand by Gujjars of Jammu and Kashmir                                                                                      Article by : Dr. Javaid Rahi

On the occasion of the inauguration of ‘National Tribal Carnival’ on  October 25th, 2016, in New Delhi,  the  Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi  exclusively praised  the tribes of India  which marked intense struggle  throughout their life . He declared them as  ideals of community living, and of living cheerfully despite many troubles.

Prime Minister   also  complimented the nomadic communities for their role in the conservation of forests in India. He said ,  if we have to protect Jungles  we should utilize  tribes. He further said  that the inheritance of tribes is largely based on forests as they are the real custodian of forests.

Prime Minister  stated  that the livelihood of tribes is largely based on forest , though they have no written record of their land dwell in and due to this they are facing  difficulties. He said,  his Govt  is committed to give rights to tribes and center with the help of State Governments  allotted  lands / Pattas of forest to Tribes for the reason that they  must get due privileges . He said  nobody will be allowed to dislocate the tribes from their inherited lands,  owned by them traditionally. He said my govt,  will take serious steps in this direction. Tribes should get  ownership on forest lands, as the Jungles are a  part of their life and livelihood  which could not be separated at all.

Moreover , the Prime Minister  admitted in his 40 minutes long speech that Tribal are the main curator  of treasures of traditional knowledge about herb . He said most of natural resources and forests in India  were found in the same parts of the country where the  tribal communities lives. He said while resources had to be harnessed, exploitation of tribal  could not be allowed. But know,   new allocations in Union Budget  would help channelize funds for the development of the tribal communities. He said this decision would unlock huge amounts of money for development of the mineral rich districts.

Forest (tribal ) Right Act- 2006

On 18th December 2006, the Indian parliament passed a legislation whereby the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers were equipped with the  rights  on forest land and other resources. It was an initiative of Govt 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, to pastoralist route to minor forest produce (also including ownership),
  3. Rehabilitation ; 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

  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 by 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 access of 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 customarily 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.

J&K awaits extension of Forest Act 

Owing to its special position,  under article 370 of Constitution of India, the states  of  Jammu and Kashmir has not extended the Forest Right Act 2006 till date , though it was largely implemented in all most all the states of India.

In absence of  forest rights , around 12   Scheduled Tribe  communities are facing a lot of hardship including evocation from land by Forest department from time to time. They are  demanding  extension of ‘Forest Rights Act-2006’ enacted by Indian Parliament to the  J&K so that they can also have rights on forest lands as are constitutionally available to other STs  across the country.

Fighting for their rights , the members of different tribal communities have been raising   the  issue  at different forms. They are pleading  that the government  should follow  the other state’s model to settle nomads especially  to rehabilitate   the  nomadic Gujjars-Bakarwals’ who are  the main forest dweller community of  the state.

Presently nomadic tribes of  Jammu and Kashmir state have no rights on the forest lands as no identical law to Forest Right Act  is enforced  in the state .The 80% of  tribal population comprising of   Gujjars and Bakerwals which constitute 20% of total 125 Lakhs population of the State . They rear sheep , goats, buffalos, camels and other animals and    a sizeable chunk among them is still landless, shelter less and deserves dwelling rights on forest lands which they are using as traditional inhabitants since centuries together.

No hurdles to extend Rights

Apparently,  there are no hurdles seen in the way  of extension  of Forest Rights   Act-2006 to J&K. The PDP – BJP govt. in J&K  which was the first to establish Tribal Ministry in the state and were seen keen to develop marginalised communities. Further the J&K ‘s Forest Policy 2010  also provided  “concessions” to nomadic graziers,  though  are not enough for tribal communities.

The forests are the home of  nomadic  tribes . Lakhs of nomadic  Gujjars-Bakarwals  in J&K still resides in forest during migration and  their economy is completely  based on forest products, lands.

In past , the tribes especially Gujjars are  protecting forests against mafias, land grabbers but as per laws available, protection of forests by persons other then officials is illegal in Jammu and Kashmir which is unjust and against tribal rights. They  must be declared as a forest protector by settling them properly and lawfully.

Rehabilitation of nomads  through  Forest Rights;

12  ST communities  of State  are expecting a positive outcome of the committee constituted by Governor of J&K N N Vohra  in March 2016 during ‘Governor  Rule’  under the supervision of Chief Secretary B. R. Sharma who was asked to prepare a draft plan to re-locate and re-rehabilitate nomadic tribes who move from place to place in the state.

The order was issued after one nomadic Gujjar was killed during evocation of land by Forest department in Samba District of Jammu province. To rehabilitate the tribes, other states of India have developed “Forest villages” for tribal and nomadic groups for rehabilitation of STs with the help of Union Tribal Affairs Ministry.

Since , the state of Jammu and Kashmir is enjoying special status  in Constitution of India and is empowered to either extend the Forest Right  Act -2006 to J&K or  come up with a legislation of its own thereby granting rights to tribes of J&K on the land occupied by them since centuries.

( Dr. Javaid Rahi – a tribal activist- can be mailed at ; javaidrahi@gmail.com)