Gujjar Bakarwal community protests proposed move to include non-STs in ST category

JKGBYWC President Zahid Parwaz Chaudhary said that the ruling BJP was holding conventions, meeting the Pahari people, and promising them that they would be included in the ST category.
JKGBYWC President Zahid Parwaz Chaudhary said that the ruling BJP was holding conventions, meeting the Pahari people, and promising them that they would be included in the ST category.Aman Farooq/ GK

Srinagar: Scores of people from the Gujjar Bakarwal community Saturday staged a protest alleging that the government was mulling to include non-Schedule Tribe (ST) people into the ST category.

The community leaders, youth, and women under the banner of the J&K Gujjar Bakarwal Youth Welfare Conference (JKGBYWC) assembled at Press Enclave in Srinagar to express their resentment against the proposed move.

JKGBYWC President Zahid Parwaz Chaudhary said that the ruling BJP was holding conventions, meeting the Pahari people, and promising them that they would be included in the ST category.

“This is being done for vote bank politics while our community is being marginalised. Through this protest, we want to give a message to the government that we won’t accept this under any circumstance. If they want to increase the quota for non-ST people, we have no issue but they should not do it at our expense. People from political parties are holding conventions and saying that they will add non-ST people to our 10 percent reservation category. The move will kill our identity and also our opportunities,” Chaudhary said.

Another protester for Gurez, Mudasir Ahmad said that other communities were enjoying the overall reservation of around 40 percent, and the Gujjar Bakarwal community was being marginalised.

Mustafa Rahi, a District Development Council member from the community said that they sent a memorandum about the issue to the government but the government was tightlipped.

“We are here to stage a peaceful protest. Our people are living in tents and as nomads yet our quota is being compromised. If the government wants to give quota to any other community, they should provide them a separate quote but including non-STs in the ST category will affect our lives and identity,” Rahi said.

The protestors said that Gujjar Bakarwals, Gurezis, Gaddis, Sippis, and other ST communities would defend their quota at all costs.

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