Jammu, Feb 4: A body of Gujjar and Bakerwal communities in Jammu and Kashmir Sunday urged the government to come up with a law to strengthen the migratory traditions of the community in the state.
The Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation (TRCF) stressed upon the Gujjar community MLAs to take up the issue of declining nomadic practices among their tribe in the ongoing Assembly session.
“The tribal migration traditions will become a history of the past in the next few decades and a law can protect this part of our tribal culture. In the last few years it declined to a great extend,” it said in a statement here.
Thousands of Gujjars-Bakerwals relinquished the nomadic lifestyle and turned into migratory labourers in the Kashmir and Jammu areas, it said.
“The main reason behind the decline in the tribal movement is the closure of pastures near the border areas, forests, other lands, killing of hundreds of nomadic Gujjars on upper reaches, during the turmoil,” the TRCF said.
It said due to the lack of “disaster management training for tribals” in the northern states of India, the community suffered a heavy loss of lives and livestock due to landslide, forest fire, snow and hail storm, man-animal conflict every year and because of these natural calamities the percentage of the nomadic Gujjars was also going down.
Gujjars, who lead a tough life in the high-altitude meadows of the Himalayas and the Pir-Panjal, are gradually settling down permanently in the plain area, it said.
It suggested the government to formulate a plan to protect their nomadic identity by providing them education, health and communication facilities during their migration at upper reaches.
It also suggested that the government should on priority formulate a disaster management policy for tribal and nomadic communities and the orders restricting the movement of the Gujjars must be revoked immediately.
Meanwhile, prominent Gujjar leader Shamsher Hakla Poonchi appealed for opening of boarding schools for the Gujjar and Bakerwal students in all the districts of the state.
Boarding schools should be setup in the pattern of Navodaya Vidyalaya in order to solve the problems being faced by the students of the community, Poonchi said in a separate statement.
He said that the mobile schools, which the government had setup for the tribal students, are not moving with the community when they move to the hilly mountain areas.
“These mobile schools remain stationery which kills the basic spirit of opening them,” he said.