Amid protests by some organizations of Gujjars and Bakerwals, the members of the Pahari ethnic group started a month-long "thanks-giving (Dhanayabad) Yatra" to express gratitude towards Union Government for granting the Scheduled Tribe status to the community.

The Yatra, which started from the Budhal area of the border district of Rajouri, will cover most of the districts of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir to mobilize the Pahari community.

Notable some groups of Gujjars and Bakerwals have already announced to start a "Tribal Bachao Yatra" (Save Tribals protest). This Yatra has been started to oppose the move of the government to grant ST status to Pahari ethnic group.

Pahari and Gujjar-Bakerwals
Members of Pahari ethnic groups are taking out thanks giving Yatra to thank Union Government to grant ST status to the community (left). Some groups of Gujjars and Bakerwals taking out any Yatra to oppose this move of the Union media

Last week the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has cleared the way for the inclusion of the "Pahari ethnic group" in the Scheduled Tribes list of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

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.

"This is purely a non-political Yatra in which young leaders of the Pahari ethnic group are participating to thank the Central government for granting the ST status", advocate Ronik Sharma, leader of Pahari Tribe ST Forum told the International Bussiness Times.

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"This Yatra will cover different areas of J&K to educate members of the Pahari tribe about their rights", he said.

While starting the Yatra, speakers said that the Pahari community would remain indebted to the BJP government at the Centre for granting ST status to this neglected and ignored community.

As reported earlier 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.

Gujjars-Bakerwals oppose ST status to Paharis

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.

But some groups of Gujjars and Bakerwals have strongly opposed this move of the Union Government.

Gujjar leader
Gujjar leader Anwar Choudhary interacting with media persons at Jammu on Tuesdaysocial media

Some groups of Gujjars and Bakewals on Wednesday under the banner of the "Jammu and Kashmir Gujjars and Bakerwals Organisations Co-ordination Committee" expressed their apprehensions about the dilution of their rights.

The Committee anguished over the report of Justice (Retd) G D Sharma Commission and termed it as biased and against the interest of Scheduled Tribes, OBCs, and deprived sections of the people.
These groups announced to launch of an agitation against the decision to grant ST status to Paharis.

"We will mobilize our community to register protest against the grant of ST status to Pahari-speaking people who belong to upper castes of society" Anwar Chowdhary, convenor of the committee, said in Jammu on Wednesday.