Jammu, Jul 15: Gujjars and Bakerwals -the main animal raring communities of Jammu and Kashmir Sunday demanded that the grazing areas and pastoral land must not be converted for any purposes in the state. They, while attending a programme organised by Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation held here, on the Topic ‘ Grazing land and Tribes of J&K‘ -stated that government should come up with a law, to restrict conversion of grazing land, including its change of title/ ownership of the land in the state.
They said that “Such conversions are adversely affecting tribal livelihood and is harmful for migratory culture and nomadic way of life of Gujjars & Bakerwals who are already passing through tough times in J&K.”
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 livelihood of lakhs of nomads are solely depend upon the grazing land since centuries. He said that all such “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 culture and traditions of Gujjars , Bakerwals, Gaddis , Sippis and Chanpas of Ladakh , he said. The grazing land must be used for animal rearing (Kahcharai) 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 speaker stated that the grazing land was traditionally used by cattle grazer families but in past two decades such areas are converted which is threatening the livelihood of tribes and their animals.
Those who spoke include Ishtaiq Misbah, Zulkarnain , Sajjad Chowdhary, Bashir Chowdhary and others.