Nomads allege locals ‘banned’ their entry to Samba villages

‘People asked not to buy milk products from us’; won’t allow this to happen: SSP

Some local bodies representatives and people from different villages have allegedly banned entry of nomads in different villages of Samba district and are "running a campaign" to stop buying milk products from the community.

A few days ago, Sarpanch of PanchayatGharana, BlockSuchetgarh, Gurdayal Singh Majotra wrote a letter to district administrationseeking ban on entry of Gujjars and Bakerwals in the block.

In his letter, Majotra asked the administration to establisha check point in the block with the help of forest and Village DefenceCommittee (VDC) to stop the tribal people from entering the village.

He, however, withdrew his letter and apologized in writingto the authorities after facing severe criticism.

"The letter was misrepresented," Majotra said. "We raisedobjections to those non-local Gujjars who come in large groups with cattle.They do not follow social distancing," he said.

But similar cases surfaced from other villages as well. InChakSalarian village of the district, the villagers blocked the main roads withwires and local youth guarded the roads, according to nomads of RakhBrotian, anarea along Jammu-Pathankot highway in Vijaypur, to prevent their entry into thevillage.

Brotian houses large numbers of nomads who sell milkproducts in Jammu city and Samba districts.

"People buy our milk products not only in Samba, but inJammu city as well," said LalHussain.

Sarpanch of ChakSalarian (Samba), Vijay Choudhary aliasBawaSarpanch, has ordered villagers not to allow nomads inside the village.

"Local youth guarding the roads do not allow us to enter thevillage. They force us to return. They don't allow nomads to get fodders fromtheir village," said Din Mohammed.

He, however, said all villagers were not discriminatoryagainst them. "There are good people as well. We are being harassed bypolitically influential people and they are trying to divide the society," hesaid.

BawaSarpanch acknowledged that they were not allowing nomadsin the village. "They can use roads outside the villages. This decision wastaken unanimously after one person staying at residence of a local Gujjar atDolteChakBasti concealing his travel history was arrested by police," he said."We have banned their entry into the village for safety of the villagers. Wehave told them to contact us on phone in case of any need."

An ex-Sarpanch from ChakMurar in Bishnah, BhagwanDass saidhe has cautioned the villagers not to buy anything from "outsides."

In a video clip which has gone viral on social media, Dasscan be heard telling the villagers "Don't buy cheese from them (Gujjars). Donot allow cheese sellers into the villages. Do not allow outsiders. Make it atyour home or buy it from local milk sellers in the village."

SSP Samba, Shakti Pathak said police would not allow anyoneto ban entry of the nomads in the villages.

"We have asked a police officer to look into the matter. Whoare they to stop anyone's entry? We will see them," the SSP said.

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