With the timely intervention of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, some tribal groups of Jammu and Kashmir suspended their ongoing Yatra against granting Scheduled Tribe status to Pahari ethnic group.
Exuding confidence that the government will not dilute the existing quota for Gujjars and Bakerwals, the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the nomadic people suspended their "Tribals Bachao March" which started from North Kashmir's Kupwara district on November 4 and was scheduled to reach Kathua after covering all the 20 districts of Union Territory.
Enraged over the decision of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) to include the "Pahari ethnic group" in the Scheduled Tribes list of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, some groups of Gujjars and Bakerwals started Yatra to mobilize the tribal community.
Along with the "Pahari ethnic group" the NCST has also cleared the way for the inclusion of the "Paddari Tribe", "Koli" and "Gadda Brahman" communities to be included in the ST list of J&K.
Addressing a joint press conference in Jammu, the JAC members thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Union Home Minister Amit Shah for an effective move to protect the reservation of the existing 12 tribal groups of J&K.
Amit Shah assures no dilution in existing quota
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, during a meeting with members of the Gujjars and Bakerwals at New Delhi last week, assured no dilution in the existing quota as well as other ST benefits to the community.
Shah assured the Gujjar Bakerwal Joint Action Committee leaders that the existing 10 percent reservation to the community will remain intact and the Paharis as Scheduled Tribe would be accommodated in a separate block.
Reports said that a new arrangement is being worked out under which special arrangements will be made for separate reservation quotas for both communities.
"Pahari ethnic tribe, Gadda Brahman, Koli, and Padri will be accommodated as a separate group of Scheduled Tribe with special arrangement ensuring that reservation to them does not affect quota of Gujjar-Bakerwal", reports said.
The JAC members expressed hope that Union Home Minister will fulfill his promises made to the delegation.
While addressing a rally at Rajouri on October 4, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has promised that ST status will be granted to Paharies, but not at the cost of the rights of existing scheduled tribes of the Union Territory.
He 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.