We are one identity, say Gujjars-Bakerwals

Jammu, Dec 2: Cautioning the Gujjars and Bakerwals of Jammu and Kashmir with regards to attempts of some particular groups mainly active in different districts of Jammu Division to divide community on small ethnic lines –the Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation -in programme held here – issued an appealed the tribe Sunday asking them to remain united on all fronts and give a befitting reply to disintegrating forces.
Noted Gujjar researcher Dr. Javaid Rahi, who presided over the meeting said Gujjars and Bakerwals are one identity adding that Bakerwal is another name of Gujjars. He said those Gujjars who rare cattle are termed as Bakerwals but ethnically, racially, linguistically they are one and belongs to Gujjar clan.
He said Gujjars have many names like Ajjadh, Dhangar, Dohdhi, Vanvasi and added that those Gujjars who rear “goats” are called Bakerwals- as word Bakarwal is derived from the term, Bakri/Bakar meaning “goat/Sheep”, and Wal meaning “one who takes care of” therefore this name was given to those Gujjars who are rearing goats and Sheeps.
He said they – Gujjars and Bakerwals – share same History, Culture, Language-Gojri- and ethnic identity. Even all anthropological and genetic studies conducted on Gujjars-Bakerwals says that they are not a separate identities in any ways, he added. He said in 1991 the Gujjars-Bakerwals are granted Tribal status in Jammu and Kashmir and a study was conducted by Union Government of India before granting the Scheduled Tribe Status to them. The study reveals that Bakerwal is another name of Gujjars entered in revenue records that’s why both the names ( Gujjars and Bakerwals ) were included while the community was enlisted in tribal category in Indian constitutions.
The speakers stated that some people in border areas of the state are bent upon to segregate the vibrant Gujjar identity into two parts which is highly condemnable and deeply intolerable. He said that Gujjars and Bakerwals are one Tribe popularly known as Gujjars or Gurjars in South Asia.
Essentially, the name “Bakarwal” implies “high-altitude goatherds/shepherds” Gujjars. The Bakarwals belongs to the same ethnicity stock as the Gujjars, and inter-marriages freely take place among them, the speakers said. They enjoy equal status in Tribal society said speakers and added there are number of examples where one brothers name entered in revenue record as Bakerwal and Others as Gujjars.
Recently there were some reports of division between Gujjars-Bakerwals and some non tribal groups of Jammu Division are instigating a wrong war to divide Gujjar community who form third largest group of the State after Kashmiri and Dogras and constitute more than 20% population of total population of Jammu and Kashmir.

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