Jammu: After Parliament gave nod to the grant of Scheduled Tribe status to the Pahari community in J&K, authorities on Wednesday imposed restrictions on Internet and mob gathering in Poonch and Rajouri districts.
Parliament on Tuesday passed the grant of scheduled tribe (ST) status to the Pahari community living in different parts of J&K.
So far, Gujjar/Bakerwal community had the Scheduled Tribe status with 9 per cent reservation in government jobs for members of this community.
Gujjar/Bakarwal community has opposed the grant of ST status to Paharis claiming that they would cut into the reservations made for Gujjar/Bakerwal community and also that the Paharis are a well settled community in the UT.
Along with the Paharis, Parliament has passed the bill granting ST status to Padari tribe, Kolis and Gadda Brahmins of the UT.
Raja Aijaz Ali, retired IGP, is a prominent member of the Pahari community, who belongs to Uri border tehsil.
Speaking to IANS, he said, “We have been agitating for the grant of this status since 1991. “We were told that inclusion of Pahari language in 8th schedule, even if done, would not get us the status of a scheduled tribe because no group can be granted such status on the basis of language.
“Our argument has been simple and logical. Paharis are not a language based ST group, we are an ethnic minority with a distinct culture.
“We are similarly located with our Gujjar/Bakarwal brothers. We have the same levels of poverty, lack of educational and developmental avenues, and the complex of being an ethnic minority has kept our boys & girls shying away from seeking better exposure to compete with well placed members of the society.
“Someone quoting Raja Aijaz Ali and 2 or 3 other members of our community are claiming that we are better placed is a self-defeating argument.
“Just three persons doing well in a community of over 15 lakh Paharis proves how adversely our community is placed.
“We have said that any political party that supports our claim would have our support.
“The BJP has ensured that we get the much awaited status. We have decided to support the BJP during the next Lok Sabha and J&K Assembly elections.
“Our community will make a difference in the election results of 12 to 14 Assembly constituencies.”
Union Home Minister Amit Shah has assured that the grant of ST status to Paharis would not impact the reservations made for the Gujjar/Bakarwal community.