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J&K: Pahari Community to Get Reservation Soon, Says Amit Shah Amid Protests by Opposition

Anees Zargar |
The authorities suspended mobile internet services in parts of Jammu and Rajouri districts as Shah was addressing a rally.
 Union Home Minister Amit Shah

Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Image Courtesy: PTI

Srinagar: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday indicated that the Pahari community from the region will be given reservation soon after the administrative process is completed.

Shah said the process for reservation was cleared after the abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A following which the Justice (retd) GD Sharma Commission also recommended reservation for Gujjar, Bakerwal and Pahari communities. “Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi also wishes that the communities be granted reservation rights. It will be given soon once the administrative process is through,” Shah said.

The Union home minister, who arrived in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday evening, addressed a rally in Jammu’s Rajouri district on Tuesday where he made the fresh commitment to the tribal community.

Shah’s remarks come amidst protests from the Gujjar and Bakerwal communities who are averse to the granting of Schedule Tribe (ST) status to the Pahari-speaking community. They claim the Pahari community does not fulfil the criteria for reservation.

Representatives and activists from the Gujjar and Bakerwal communities have been holding peaceful demonstration across the region since the past two days against the proposed move, which, they believe, will lead to the ‘dilution’ of ST reservation.

The home minister, however, during his address assured the Gujjar and Bakerwal communities that they would not lose even 1% of the reservation rights they have been granted.

He claimed that Gujjars and Bakerwals were being “instigated” by some elements to oppose ST status being given to Paharis but, adding that these elements had “failed in their design.”

Shah also launched a scathing attack on regional political parties -- the National Conference (NC), People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Congress party -- calling them “dynasts” who have shown “no regard for democracy or interests of the people” of the region.

“Today's rally and your 'Modi-Modi' chants are answers to those who said if 370 A will be revoked, there will be a bloodbath in the region,” Shah said.

The home minister flew to the border district of Rajouri after he paid obesiance at Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Reasi district on the eve of Maha Navami festival.

This is the home minister’s third visit to the region since he announced the revocation of J&K’s ‘special status’ in Parliament in August 2019 and the second visit this year. He is also scheduled to visit North Kashmir’s Baramulla district on Wednesday where he will hold his next rally.

As Shah addressed people in Rajouri, authorities suspended mobile internet services in parts of Jammu and Rajouri districts to thwart what they termed as “misuse by miscreants” which may cause “deterioration in public order”.

“The order/letter under reference, inter-alia, mentions about possibility of Mobile Data (2G/3G/4G) services to be misused by anti-national elements/miscreants, which may cause deterioration in public order,” the government order read.

Shah’s visit was marked with several attacks in the Union territory despite heightened security measures. A non-local bank manager escaped unhurt after he was attacked on Monday by suspected militants at Goshbugh village of North Kashmir’s Baramulla district where Shah will address a public rally.

Before the visit another attack was carried out on Sunday by suspected militants in Pinglena village of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district in which a policeman Javid Ahmad Dar was killed. The attackers also injured a Central Reserve Police Force personnel in the attack on joint patrol party that the officials claimed was meant to disrupt Shah’s visit.

Meanwhile, just after Shah arrived in Jammu DG Prisons Hemant Kumar Lohia was reported to have been murdered at his Jammu residence on Monday night. In an unverified social media update, the killing of Lohia was owned by Jaish e Mohammad (JeM) offshoot People’s Anti-Fascist Front (PAFF). The J&K police have arrested the officer’s domestic help, who is the main suspect, in the incident and so far ruled any militancy related angle.

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