Jammu: Union Home Minister Amit Shah met delegations of Gujjar-Bakerwals and Pahari community in New Delhi Tuesday evening, separately to soothe the frayed nerves with the commitment to safeguard interests and rights of both the communities.
Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, who too reached the union capital specifically for this purpose, accompanied the Union Home Minister during both the meetings.
As per sources, the Pahari delegation, which met first Union Home Minister, was led by former Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Beig and was also comprising Syed Mushtaq Bukhari, Vibodh Gupta, Jehangir Mir, Raja Aijaz Ali besides others. They wanted reassurance from the central leadership that their decades old demand would be met in the current session.
Later, a delegation of Gujjar-Bakerwals, comprising BJP MP from Rajya Sabha Gulam Ali Khatana, Talib Choudhary, Choudhary Liaqat besides others, met Shah to air their concerns and misgivings about the Reservation Bill.
The meetings assumed significance as they were convened ahead of the scheduling of the bill, seeking changes in the list of Scheduled Tribes for Jammu and Kashmir to pave the way for ST status for Pahari speaking people (Pahari Kabila), in the current session of Parliament.
Both the communities are at loggerheads on the issue of ST status for Pahari ethnic tribe.
Sources stated that the Union Home Minister reiterated his commitment to both the delegations that Bill would not jeopardise the interests or rights of any community. “Gujjars would not lose even an iota of what they are getting at present and Paharis will get what is their due and what they have been aspiring for decades,” Shah, joined by LG Sinha, assured.
The Bill, once tabled and approved, will see Paddri, Koli and Gaddi Brahmins also getting ST status besides Pahari-speaking people or Pahari ethnic tribe, based on the recommendations of Justice G D Sharma Commission report. The proposal has already been cleared by the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes and other ministries.
After the meeting, Khatana told the media they were reassured that their rights (share and percentage of reservation) would remain intact. “There will be no compromise with our rights – is the assurance we have got,” he said.