Ban conversion of grazing land in JK: Gujjars

Jammu, Apr 29: The Gujjar and Bakerwal scheduled Tribe communities of Jammu and Kashmir today demanded that the grazing lands must not be converted for any purposes in the state. They, while attending a programme organised by Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation held here Sunday, on the Topic ‘ Tribes and land issues ‘ -stated that government should come up with a law, immediately, and restrict conversion of grazing land, including its change of title/ ownership of the land in the state.
“Such conversions are adversely affecting tribal migratory culture and nomadic way of life of STs who are already passing through tough times in J&K”, they stated.
The programme was presided over by noted Gujjar researcher Dr. Javaid Rahi while a number of tribal elders, youth and scholars attended the programme.
Dr. Javaid Rahi in his address presidential stated that Gujjars and Bakerwals are main animals rearing communities of the state and lakhs of nomads are solely dependent upon the grazing land. He said “grazing areas, pastoral land and other community resources belonging to a tribe/village /area or others may not be converted or vested to an agency or agencies for any type of usage.
Such changes can badly affect centuries old migratory traditions of Gujjars , Bakerwals, Gaddis , Sippis and Chanpas of Ladakh , he said. The grazing land must be used for animal rearing ( Ghaa Chirai ) only and should strictly kept for the tribal community’s use, The speakers said ”.
They said, that grazing lands are shrinking fast due its rapid conversions for different purposes and a large number of tribal families who are entirely dependent on these lands are facing helplessness.
The speakers said after implementation of Roshni Act in J&K in last decade – whereby government vested ownership of land to the occupants – the grazing / free government lands have been occupied by influential people leaving the tribe, landless people aside, which needs a probe.
The speakers urged the state governments to formulate a plan for eviction of illegal/unauthorized occupants of grazing land meant for community use.
The speakers said a big chunk of grazing lands were given to offices , defence NGOs , Universities, colleges but Tribal were not consulted and they were thrown out.
The speaker stated that the grazing land was traditionally used by cattle grazer families but in past two decades such areas are converted which is threating the livelihood of tribes and their animals.