No scope for clash between reservation of Gujjar-Bakerwals, Paharis: LG Sinha

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KC NEWS DESK

Jammu: Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha Thursday asserted that there was no scope for clash or overlapping between the reservation already being enjoyed by Gujjar-Bakerwals under Scheduled Tribes (ST) category and the quota, to be accorded, to Paharis (and three other new entrants) in the (ST) list in J&K.

“There is no room for any conflict or competition between them as there will be two different sub-groups under the (ST) category – each sub-group enjoying 10 percent reservation each in jobs, educational institutions and other spheres. This will keep intact the share (10 percent) of existing ST communities in the list, with no tinkering whatsoever. At the same time, it will allow the new entrants in ST list to reap benefits of their own separate quota (10 percent). It will be a win-win situation for all (Gujjars-Bakerwals as well as Paharis) with no overlapping in each other’s quota,” the Lieutenant Governor averred.

“Hence, they (Gujjar-Bakerwals) need not to get swayed by the propaganda or false projections by the vested interests, whose only objective has always been to exploit the community (Gujjar-Bakerwals) to serve their own political ends,” he cautioned.

LG Sinha was responding to queries during an interaction with a select-gathering of journalists at Raj Bhawan, organised with an avowed objective to allay misplaced apprehensions among Gujjar-Bakerwals, following the passage of Bill granting ST status to Paharis and three other communities as well in J&K.

“With a great sense of responsibility, I’m making this assertion, which is a reiteration of what the country’s top leadership – the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union Home Minister Amit Shah have assured to the existing Scheduled Tribes communities, particularly Gujjar-Bakerwals. Inclusion of Paharis and other communities in the ST list will not dilute their existing share in any manner,” he said.

Reference was to the scenario after the passage of “The Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2024” expanding the list of Scheduled Tribes in J&K.

On February 6, “The Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2024” aimed at granting Scheduled Tribe status to Paharis, Padari Tribes, Kolis and Gadda Brahmins, was passed by the Lok Sabha. Significant Bill, now, awaits clearance from the Rajya Sabha.

LG Sinha stated that the Prime Minister Narendra addressed the aspirations of Paharis also while earlier regimes had only made haughty claims and fake promises to them.

“It is ironic that those, who have only exploited their (Paharis’) emotions in the last 75 years, are now trying to take credit and are projecting themselves as a champion of their cause. It is only after the abrogation of Article 370 that the deprived sections in J&K are getting their due including reservation in jobs, educational institutions and political reservation. Even Gujjar-Bakerwals will get political reservation for the first time along with other communities. Present dispensation has ensured that every section gets its due. Rest assured, our all decisions are in perfect sync with the Prime Minister’s “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas Aur Sab Ka Vishwas” Mantra,” the Lieutenant Governor averred.

DEPRIVED SECTIONS GETTING THEIR DUE POST ARTICLE 370

He asserted that actual legal and constitutional benefits percolated down to the tribal community in J&K only after August 5, 2019.

“Union Home Minister Amit Shahji had announced in a public rally that Paharis would be given ST status fulfilling their long pending demand. It was also in alignment with the recommendations of (Justice G D Sharma) Commission, undoing injustice with the deprived sections of the society in J&K. Earlier there was ten percent reservation only in jobs and educational institutions for STs. But now, following delimitation, there will be nine seats for STs in J&K Legislature, empowering the community politically,” he said.

MOVE TO EMPOWER ST COMMUNITY POLITICALLY

With regard to questions about nine seats reserved for ST community, LG Sinha remarked that in any case there was no dispute about six to seven seats, where one of the two communities had clear dominance over the other. “Even those two seats or so, where the population of either Gujjar-Bakerwals or Paharis is less, there will be no harm to any side,” he asserted.

MAINSTREAMING OF EXISTING TRIBAL GROUPS (GUJJAR-BAKERWAL & OTHER COMMUNITIES IN PRESENT ST LIST)

He said that after a long wait of over seven decades, the tribal community in Jammu and Kashmir was mainstreamed. “After a two-decade wait, forest rights have been granted to the tribal community under the Forest Rights Act (FRA). Earlier only nominal rights were given to them. Efforts have been made to provide facilities to tribals that hitherto were beyond imagination. Road connectivity, power supply, drinking water, healthcare, and education have been given special attention, ensuring that the tribal society in the Union Territory has the opportunity to live a dignified life,” he said.

He stated that transportation facilities were being provided to migratory tribal families, a provision that did not exist before 2019. In the previous season, arrangements were made for the movement of 12,497 families and 1.56 lakh livestock.

LG Sinha informed that under PM Adi Adarsh Gram Yojana (PMAAGY), all those villages having at least 50 percent ST population and 500 ST persons would be given Rs 1 Cr for development.

“Our focus is on digital literacy of the community. Smart cards have been given to the population 700 mini sheep farms are being developed in various districts of the Union Territory. To ensure quality education of the new generation of tribal community, 25 hostels are being constructed, and initiatives such as livelihood units, skill development, and professional coaching for NEET, JEE, UPSC and judicial services exams, are providing new opportunities to tribal youth,” he said.

The Lieutenant Governor said that last fiscal year, there was a manifold increase in scholarships for the tribal community.

“An allocation of Rs 32.50 Cr, covering an additional 46,000 students, was approved. In the current fiscal year, the allocation was increased to Rs 52 Cr and scholarships are being directly transferred to the bank accounts of students, with the government ensuring that no eligible student is left out of this scheme, with 1.90 lakh students benefitting from these scholarships. Tribal youth are being given training. Seasonal teachers’ salaries have been increased. Prime Minister’s Van Dhan Vikas Yojana has been implemented to empower tribal women both socially and economically,” he enumerated the measures aimed at the welfare of tribal population.

“I have always emphasized that transformation of Jammu and Kashmir can only be achieved by empowering the tribal community. Some nefarious elements with vested interests are trying to provoke the sentiments of the Gujjar Bakerwals regarding reservation. I want to assure the entire community that under the guidance of the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi we would strive continuously to provide you with all facilities, without tinkering with your existing reservations to improve your standard of living and make you self-reliant,” LG Sinha said.

He asserted that his administration, taking a cue from the central government led by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was committed to build J&K, which only focussed on equitable, all-inclusive, justice-oriented development, benefitting all sections of the society.

Notably even after the passage of “The Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2024” in the Lok Sabha also, LG Sinha, while describing the occasion as “historic”, stated that the passage of Bill fulfilled long-pending demand of these communities (Paharis, Padari tribes, Kols and Gadda Brahmins).

In the same breath he had reiterated that the inclusion of new communities in the list of Scheduled Tribes would have no impact on the current level of reservations available to the existing Scheduled Tribe communities like Gujjar-Bakerwals.”

After the passage of the Bill in the Upper House also, the J&K government would issue necessary notifications in alignment with this commitment that the people included in the existing list of STs continued to get the same level of reservation, he had reassured.

PAHARIS TO GET ALL ST BENEFITS

The Lieutenant Governor stated that Paharis and new entrants in ST list of J&K would also get all the benefits, after the clearance of Bill in the Upper House and other relevant legal processes, presently available to other Scheduled Tribe communities in J&K – in all spheres.

With regard to a question about the J&K Public Service Commission (JKPSC), he said that the process for appointment of its chairman and members was almost complete and soon it would function with its full strength.

He asserted that the issue of technical glitch hampering e-office functioning would be resolved in a day or two.

Referring to reformative changes in J&K Bank, LG Sinha mentioned significant reduction in the ratio of its Non-Performing Assets (NPAs), increase in its net profits and impressive jump in its share values.

He stated that physical verification was being conducted in the case of pensions where over 120 cases were detected with fabricated records.

“Corruption-free J&K with accountable and transparent administration is our commitment,” he said.

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