Pahari community in Jammu and Kashmir soon to get reservation for jobs, education
Srinagar: In a first, the Indian government has announced that the Pahari community in Jammu and Kashmir will soon get reservation in education and jobs as Scheduled Tribe (ST).
This quota will be the first instance of a linguistic group earning reservation in India.
The central government will have to amend the Reservations Act in Parliament for it.
India’s Home Minister Amit Shah had said, “The GD Sharma commission set up by the government has sent the report and recommended reservation for Gujjar, Bakarwal and Pahari communities. It will be given soon.”
He claimed such reservation became possible only after the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 was struck down, reported NDTV online.
"Now, minorities, Dalits, tribals, Paharis here will get their rights,” he said.
According to a Times of India report, Shah said the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A in August 2019 has paved the way for providing reservation to Jammu and Kashmir’s deprived sections of society.
Population of Paharis in the UT is estimated to be around 6 lakh, of whom 55 per cent are Hindus and the rest Muslim.
But the Gujjar and Bakarwal communities — who have 10 per cent ST quota already — have been resenting tribal status to Paharis, saying that Muslims and Hindus from privileged classes should not get quota on the basis of language alone.
The ST quota in Jammu and Kashmir carries 7 per cent spots in government jobs and educational institutions.
Gujjars and Bakerwals were getting ST benefits from April 1991.
The Paharis were given a 4 per cent quota in the OBC category from January 2020 after a delegation met Shah on December 25 the previous year, requesting ST status for the community that has a population of around 12 lakh.
The Indian government formed the Justice Sharma commission in March 2020, but Gujjars and Bakerwals—the third largest ethnic group after Kashmiris and Dogras—were said to be unhappy with the move to grant ST quota to Paharis.
It will be perhaps the first linguistic minority community in the country to get tribal status, Times of India reported.
The home minister said “everyone will get their share”, allaying fears that adding Paharis could upend benefits for those already on the ST list. He said some people tried to instigate Gujjars and Bakerwals, but “the people have foiled their design”.
There have been reports of protests by Gujjars and Bakerwals in Jammu and Shopian in Kashmir recently. They constitute 40 per cent of the population in the border districts of Rajouri and Poonch. Paharis also live there, but are numerically small.
Shah said J&K’s security situation has improved because of the Indian government’s decisive and tough action against terrorists. He said terrorism-related crimes had dropped from 4,766 in 2006-2013 when Congress was in power to 721 in 2019-22.
He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi “snatched stones from the hands of stone-pelters” in Kashmir and handed them laptops and jobs. “Today, J&K youths are competing like any other youngster of the country in different fields,” he said.
He praised the people in the frontier districts of Rajouri and Poonch for “standing like a rock for the security of India”.
While addressing a gathering on the occasion of inauguration and laying of foundation stone of 263 development projects worth Rs 1,960 crore in Jammu, Shah said: “We want to end corruption and terrorism and by developing J&K, we want to make it number one in the race for development in the whole country.”