We Can Ensure BJP's Victory In Kashmir, Claims Gujjar Leader

30 August 2014
The Hindustan Times
Toufiq Rashid

Srinagar: The Bharatiya Janata Party, which is on its 'mission 44+' in Jammu and Kashmir, is getting a positive signal from the nomadic community in the state. A local non-governmental organisation, Jammu and Kashmir Gujjar Mahasabha, claiming to be the representative of the Gujjar community in the state has written to the BJP leadership in Delhi assuring its support. 'I have met Rajnath Singh in Delhi recently. I have also met Amit Shah when he was in Jammu. I have written to the BJP leadership for seeking mandate from the Gujjars inhabited in areas like Karnah or Uri, so that we can get their votes for the party,' said Ehtisam Ur Rehman Poshwal, president of Jammu and Kashmir Gujjar Mahasabha. The state unit of BJP had claimed even before the Lok Sabha elections that the Gujjar community in the state was tilting towards the party. The reports came in after the then Prime Ministerial candidate for the party Narendra Modi held his first rally in Jammu. 'After Modi came to power, many Gujjars are now openly turning towards the BJP as they are of the firm view that 'Modi for PM' means an end of discrimination, new era of development and welfare of ignored sections of the society,' he said. The nomadic population (Muslim Gujjars) is mostly concentrated in the hilly areas of Rajouri and Poonch, followed by Anantnag, Udhampur and Doda. There is a good population in the areas like Kangan and Ganderbal in the Valley. Poshwal feels his organisation can mobilise the community which has considerable population in the state. 'We can ensure victory if the party shows its faith in us,' he said. In areas like Poonch and Rajouri, the organisation claims the community comprises half of the population. According to the 2001 census, the Gujjars are the most populous Scheduled Tribes in J&K, having a population of 763,806. Around 99.3% of the Gujjar and Bakarwal in the state follow Islam. The Gujjar leaders in the Valley, however, refute the claim. Minister in the Omar Abdullah cabinet, Mian Altaf, who enjoys strong support among the community in the Valley said, 'They are the self-styled representatives, has anybody chosen them? Just by claiming you are a Gujjar leader does not make you one.' 'Only the election results can say who is the winner?' Altaf added.