A month after the announcement of Home Minister, Amit Shah, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) cleared the way for the inclusion of the "Pahari ethnic group"
in the Scheduled Tribes list of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

Reports said that NCST has now cleared the way for the inclusion of the "Pahari ethnic group", "Paddari Tribe", "Koli" and "Gadda Brahman" communities to be included in the ST list of J&K.

"Thanks, Home Minister Amit Shah for conceding the long pending demand of granting ST status to the Pahari community. This could have been possible only in a government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi which has the courage and conviction to transform Jammu and Kashmir", Union Minister and Lok Sabha member from Udhampur-Doda constituency Dr. Jitendra Singh tweeted.

Reports said that the NCST has examined the proposal received from the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. The NCST supported the proposal based on the recommendation of the Office of the Registrar General of India.

The suggestion for inclusion had come from the commission set up for socially and educationally backward classes in the Union Territory, headed by Justice (Retd.) G.D. Sharma.

Pahari leader
A delegation of Pahari leaders led by BJP leader Vibodh Gupta meets Amit ShahBJP media cell

On October 4, Amit Shah had promised to grant ST status to Paharis

Paharis will be the first linguistic group to get Scheduled Tribe (ST) status in the country. The central government needs to amend the Reservations Act in Parliament to grant ST status to Paharis.

While addressing a rally at the border town of Rajouri of Jammu and Kashmir on October 4, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had promised that the Pahari-speaking people of Jammu and Kashmir will get Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.

He, however, announced that ST status will be granted to Paharies, but not at the cost of the rights of existing scheduled tribes of the Union Territory.

The Union Minister assured like Gujjar and Bakerwals, Paharis will also get ST status as it was the long pending demand of this community.

He, however, assured Gujjars and Bakerwals that this decision will not dilute the rights of the communities which are already enjoying the ST status. "There will be no effect on the reservation of Gujjars and Bakewals even by one percent," Shah had assured.

The Gujjars, who already have a reservation under the ST category, had apprehensions that granting the ST status to the Paharis would dilute their quota.

J&K BJP president Ravinder Raina with prominent Pahari leader Mushtaq BukhariBJP media cell

BJP focussing on Paharis to make inroads in Muslim-dominated districts of J&K

As part of its strategy for the coming assembly elections in the Union Territory of J&K, BJP is focussing on Paharies to make inroads in these Muslim majority districts of Poonch, Rajouri, Baramulla, and Kupwara.

During his visit to J&K in the first week of October, Amit Shah addressed rallies in Rajouri and Baramulla districts which are dominated by Paharis.

Keeping in view the deep ethnic divide among Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Paharies in this mountainous belt, BJP is now focussing on Pahari Muslims to further expand its base in the twin border districts of Poonch and Rajouri. Already a prominent Pahari face of Rajouri, Mohammad Iqbal Malik has joined the party and won the election as a DDC member on a BJP ticket.

BJP has supported ST status for Paharies - a community that is a dominant force in Poonch, Rajouri districts of Jammu province, and Baramulla and Kupwara districts in Kashmir Valley.