Gujjars demand economic, political packages

23 April 2008
The Daily Excelsior

Jammu: Demanding the announcement of special economic and political package for the Gujjars of J&K, Akhil Bharatiya Gujjar Maha Sabha, state president, Ch. Ishfaq ur Rehman Poswal has made an appeal to Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh who is visiting the state on April 25. While addressing a press conference here, today, Mr Poswal alleged that there are about two lakh nomadic Gujjars and Bakerwals in the state without shelter and they are eagerly waiting for a rehabilitation package. He said it is astonishing that there is no mention of Gujjars including SC-ST communities in the recommendations of four working groups and there no incentive has been announced for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes in two packages of Prime Minister. He said the SC-ST communities constitute over 35 percent of the total population of the state and have all along been giving sacrifices for the cause of national unity but have still been neglected. Mr Poswal alleged that the Gujjars have been discriminated against since 1947 by the state and the ST status which was granted way back in 1991 failed to provide the Constitutional safeguards. He said Gujjars are opposed to grant of ST Status to Pahari speaking people and warned the Central Government against any such move.