The community members said that the Gujjar’s and Pahari’s face the same problems. While Gujjar’s have been given ST status, the Pahari community has been ignored.

SRINAGAR — Jammu and Kashmir Pahari Culture Welfare Forum (JKPCWF), and Pahari community members in north Kashmir’s Uri are demanding Scheduled Tribe (ST) for the community alleging that the government has been ignoring their demands for decades.

“We have a different language and an entirely different culture. We also have been recognised as an Ethnic socially backward group, so all we demand from the government is that they recognise us as ST’s,” said Muneer Ahmad, a member of JKPCWF.

He said that the community has been raising this demand since 1969.

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Gujjar community and Pahari community live side by side and face similar problems and issues. If Gujjar community has been given ST status, why not Paharis, he asked.

The community members and JKPCWF, last week, also held a protest demonstration in Uri town of Baramulla district pressing for their demands.

The members of Pahari community during a protest demonstration in Uri. / Adil Shabir

In 1989 Jammu and Kashmir government had recommended eight communities for ST status to Government of India. In the list the first recommendation was that of Pahari community and the second recommendation was of Gujjar & Bakarwal community.

Paharis were positive of gaining the tribal status as their case was stronger since they were recommended by Justice Sagheer report, Pirzaada Amin Committee report, and many more commission reports earlier as well.

But in 1991, the Gujjar community was given the ST status instead of the Pahari community. Since then the Pahari community has made several representations to GoI and are demanding the ST status.

As per the new GD Sharma Commission the communities that have ST status will be given political reservations and the ratio of Pahari and Gujjar community in J&K is 7:3. “If the Gujjar community gets the political reservation as well, the majority Pahari community will be marginalised forever,” said Raja Aijaz, a member of People’s Conference.

“We have been discriminated for many decades now, we really hope that the present government at centre will look into our demands and give us what is rightfully ours,” he added.

BDC Chairman, Mir Khursheed, said that Pahari community held protests across Kashmir, last week.

“We have even met Home Minister, Amit Shah, at Raj Bhavan and he assured us that he will look into it. This is our long pending demand and we will do anything for this to get fulfilled,” he said.

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