Jammu, Apr 13: Tribal leader and former Deputy Chairman of J&K Legislative Council, Javed Ahmed Rana Friday pitched for adoption of constitutional safeguards and other central legislations enacted for safeguarding tribal rights and furthering their welfare.
He said unenforceability of various progressive legislations of Indian Parliament and constitutional and statutory institutions meant for safeguarding and protecting the rights of tribals have made them vulnerable to atrocities and exploitations on multiple fronts.
The tribal leader pitched for immediate extension of Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 to J&K. He said it is imperative to end perpetual harassment by forest authorities and anti-tribal groups of Gujjars-Bakerwals, who form major chunk of tribals in J&K.
He said the gruesome rape and murder of 8-year old girl child is only representative of larger prejudices and clichés against Gujjars-Bakerwals across regions in the State. “If Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 was needed anywhere in India today, it’s in Jammu and surrounding districts,” Rana asserted and rued that it’s yet to be adopted in J&K.
“The conspiracy by Hindu nationalist outfits to drive out Gujjars-Bakerwals from Kathua and Samba as pointed out in the charge-sheet filed by Crime Branch should be an eye opener for all the right thinking people,” he warned and demanded stringent laws to smack down attempts by any organized group at ethnic cleansing.
“It is unfortunate that we are still fighting for availing benefits under National Commissions for Scheduled Tribes, 77th and 89th constitutional amendment acts, article 350B and special provision for Scheduled Tribes under Vth and VIth Schedules of constitution,” he said and hoped that civil society organisations and parties across political spectrum will realise the urgency of appreciating and fulfilling these fundamental demands and rights of tribal communities in J&K.
Meanwhile, the NC legislator reiterated party’s demand for shifting of trial outside Kathua to ensure fair trial into the dastardly act, adding that the atmosphere generated by Jammu Bar and local lawyers in Kathua is not conducive to a fair and just trial.