Gujjar leader seeks setting up of tribal development council in J&K

A prominent Gujjar leader on Monday urged the centre to establish a tribal developmental council with financial powers for the upliftment of underprivileged Gujjar and Bakarwal communities in Jammu and Kashmir.

Shamsher Hakla Poonchi also demanded a special financial package and political reservations for the tribal population spread over 20 districts of the Union Territory and mostly residing in mountainous and far flung areas near forests and the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border (IB).

"The Gujjar and Bakarwal tribes are economically, educationally, socially and politically backward. The government should set up a tribal development council with financial powers for development and welfare of the Gujjars and Bakarwals," Poonchi said in a statement here.

Advocating a special package for the permanent settlement of nomadic Gujjar and Bakarwals, he said lakhs of people from both the communities are facing hardships due to lack of facilities like road communication, electricity, water supply and proper medical and educational infrastructure.

"There is a need for establishment of boarding schools on the pattern of Navodya Vidyalaya for Gujjar and Bakarwal children in all the 20 districts," he said.

Poonchi also demanded reservation of assembly and Lok Sabha segments and said 28 years have passed since the Centre granted scheduled tribe status to Gujjars and Bakarwals in Jammu and Kashmir.

He also called for a special recruitment drive for educated unemployed youth of the communities, including of Gojri language in the 8th Schedule of the constitution and a special survey for finding the exact population of Gujjars and Bakarwals living in Jammu and Kashmir.