A prominent Gujjar leader on Sunday sought from Prime Minister Narendra Modi a special package for members of his and Bakarwal communities living in 20 of Jammu and Kashmir's 22 districts.
He said the package was the need of the hour for upliftment of these socially, educationally, economically and politically backward communities.
"We appeal to the prime minister to announce a special developmental and political package for Gujjars and Bakarwals so that they can get facilities like roads, electricity, water supply, healthcare and education," Poonchi said in a statement here.
He also urged the government to establish boarding schools for children from the two communities on the lines of Navodaya Vidyalayas.
Poonchi said special drives should be organised for recruitment of youths from the Gujjar and Bakarwal communities in the Army, the Central Armed Police Forces and the local police.
The Gujjar leader also sought reservation of assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies for the communities.
The two communities were granted Scheduled Tribe status 28 years ago but the state governments failed to grant them political reservation, Poonchi said.
"There are 31 Assembly and two Lok Sabha segments which are inhabited by Gujjars and Bakarwals but due to the indifferent attitude of the previous state governments, Gujjars and Bakarwals stand deprived of their right to political reservation," he said, adding that the successive governments had done a "great injustice".
Poonchi also appealed to Modi to include Gojri, one of the most widely spoken languages in Jammu and Kashmir, in the 8th schedule of the Constitution, which lists official languages of the country.
"The inclusion of Gojri language, the mother tongue of lakhs of people living in Jammu and Kashmir, in the 8th schedule of the Constitution of India is a genuine and justified demand," he said.
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