J&K: Amit Shah promises quota for Paharis; final announcement soon
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday said that the Pahari community in Jammu and Kashmir would soon get reservations in education and job sectors as a Scheduled Tribe (ST), along with the Gujjars and Bakarwals. He announced this while speaking at a rally in Rajouri. The Paharis would be the first linguistic community in India to be granted the ST status, NDTV reported.
Why does this story matter?
- J&K's Pahari community has reportedly been demanding the ST status for many years.
- However, even before Shah's announcement on Tuesday, rumors about the same triggered tensions in the union territory.
- Gujjars and Bakarwals, who already enjoy the ST status, were also angered by the news.
- Opposition parties also resented the move, saying it was an alleged "divisive agenda" by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
What exactly did the home minister say?
"The GD Sharma commission set up by the government has sent the report and recommended reservation for Gujjar, Bakarwal, and Pahari communities. It will be given soon," Shah said. "Now, minorities, Dalits, tribals, Paharis here will get their rights." He added granting such reservations was only made possible after J&K's special status under Article 370 was scrapped by the Narendra Modi government in 2019.
Shah praised Modi for abrogation of Articles 35A, 370
While applauding Prime Minister Modi for repealing Articles 35A and 370, which granted Jammu and Kashmir limited autonomy, Shah stated the move empowered every citizen and also strengthened grass roots level representation through the panchayats. "I want to appeal to you to free Jammu and Kashmir from the clutches of three families that ruled here," he further said without directly naming the families.
Watch: Video of the speech by Shah in Hindi
जम्मू के राजौरी में आयोजित विशाल जनसभा को संबोधित करते हुए… https://t.co/DU37XuvlJO— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) October 4, 2022
Electoral benefit of granting reservations
As per reports, members of the Gujjar community staged protests in Shopian on Monday and demanded the Centre to not fiddle with reservations in J&K. Granting the ST status to Paharis, however, may be a big political boost for the BJP to win maximum seats in the soon-to-be-announced J&K elections. Shah's three-day J&K visit is also being viewed as the BJP's first election campaign.
Gujjars, Bakerwal communities' appeal to Shah
The Jammu & Kashmir Gujjar Bakerwals Organizations Coordination Committee praised the BJP-led Centre on Monday for taking several initiatives for the betterment of the people in J&K, particularly the STs, as per reports. However, it urged Shah to reassure the Gujjars, Bakerwals, Gadis, and Sippis that their ST identity would not be diluted by the inclusion of any other group, reports added.
BJP wedging a divide, says Mehbooba Mufti
Meanwhile, former J&K CM and People's Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti has alleged the BJP is attempting to divide communities using the reservation card. She earlier appealed to Gujjars, Bakerwals, and Paharis not to fight. Tensions were also reported in the Pir Panjal (Rajouri-Poonch districts) region ahead of the visit by Shah, who reached J&K late on Monday.