Srinagar, June 6 (PTI) Ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh”s two-day visit to Kashmir from tomorrow, Gujjars of the state have sought a comprehensive socio-economic package to resolve their pending demands. The demands include opening of a tribal university, inclusion of Gojri language in Eighth schedule of Constitution and a special census of nomadic Gujjars and Bakerwals.
“Gujjars had been demanding a tribal university in the state prior to 2007 when the first-ever National Tribal University was established in Madhya Pradesh. This demand is still pending with the Centre,” said Dr Javaid Rahi, National Secretary of Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation, a frontal organisation of Gujjars in Jammu and Kashmir.
According to Rahi, Gujjars constitute 20 per cent of the total population of the state. The university, if established, could promote studies and research in tribal art, culture, tradition, language, custom, medicinal systems, forest-based economic activities, including special studies in the flora and fauna, and advancements in technologies relating to natural resources of the tribal areas of the state, he said.
“The case for inclusion of Gojri language in the Eighth schedule is pending with the Union Government since 1991 which is adversely affecting the development of tribal culture of Gujjars in Jammu and Kashmir,” said Rahi. The community demanded that a special census be conducted of lakhs of nomadic Gujjars and Bakerwals of Jammu and Kashmir who are presently under seasonal migration along with their livestock in the upper reaches of Northwestern Himalayas.
He said Gujjars are demanding raising of a full-fledged ”Gujjar Regiment” in the Army on the pattern of Jat, Rajput and Dogra Regiments since 1947, which is still pending with the Union Government. The organisation also appealed to the PM to provide a “special rehabilitation package” for lakhs of Gujjars and Bakerwals in the state, besides constituting a task force to ensure speedy implementation of development schemes in Gujjar-populated areas.
The community demanded job share in central government and special employment drive for Gujjars.