A tribal affairs research body has demanded Primitive Tribal Group (PTG) status for Gujjars and Bakerwals communities of Jammu and Kashmir, saying they constitute 80 per cent of the state's tribal population and deserve special attention for their upliftment.
Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation (TRCF) said Sunday it made the demand in a memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"As per the existing norms of the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs, a scheduled tribe which depends on low-value economy activities like primitive agriculture, forestry or dairying is entitled to get PTG status with separate allocation of their share in the reservation," said TRCF in a statement.
"So far 85 tribal communities in the country have been identified as PTGs, while none in J&K fall in this category," said TRCF founder Javaid Rahi, a noted tribal researcher.
He said being poor nomads, the Gujjars and Bakerwals deserve the PGT status.
"As per 2011 census, the Gujjars and Bakerwals constitute 80 per cent of the tribal population in Jammu and Kashmir," said the TRCF statement, adding the Census described them as the "most illiterate, poor and backward communities, marginalised among scheduled tribes" and deserving "special attention and fair deal" from the Centre and state for their upliftment.
It said the Gujjars and Bakerwals are not advanced enough to compete with other tribes of the state, having better education and livelihood.
The TRCF said the Gujjars and Bakerwals were granted scheduled tribe status in 1991 in the state, sharing 10 percent ST quota in government jobs and educational institutions in the state.
"They are still on edge in all fields like education, health and employment as they face tough competition from other tribal groups of the state," it said.