PAHARIS: THE UNSUNG TRIBE
SHAIDA MAQSOOD SABRI
Shaida Maqsood Sabri
"Collective fear stimulates herd instinct and tends to produce ferocity towards those who are not regarded as members of the herd"
Paharis, as reported in THE TRIBUNE (the daily English newspaper), area about 9.6 lakh, living in the areas of Rajouri, Poonch, Kupwara, Baramulla and some in the pockets of Anantanag, Budgam, Bandipora, Ghandarbal, Pulwama and Shopian.
The history of Paharis can be traced from Tareekh-e-Pahaad by Mohammad Ali, RAJGANI-RAJWARS by Mirza Zafarullah, Tareekh AQWAM-e-POONCH by Munshi Muhammad din Fouq and GALDAN by Mohd Yaqob Khan etc. Pahari language was also recognized in 6th schedule of constitution of J&K.
As per 1941 census, Pahari language whas been recorded as one of the language spoken like other languages in the erstwhile state of J&K. The Pahari community, mostly living along the Line of Control (LOC), has suffered immensely during the three wars with Pakistan and during militancy period but still it’s sufferings have not been ended. The government has utterly failed in addressing their grievances.
The Cabinet decision no. 159 of 1989 identified and recommended Paharis, Gujjars and Bakarwals, Gaddis, Bazigars and Saniari but unfortunately, the Schedule Tribe (ST) status was given to all excluding Paharis.
The poverty stricken Pahari community which shared same habitation, culture, festivals etc. with Gujjars and Bakarwals were deprived of the much awaited and deserved ST status. However, 4% reservation, not sufficient, has been granted to Pahari Speaking People (PSP) in direct recruiting, admission in professional institutions and distribution of seats in professional institutions at PG level in medical, engineering, agriculture and similar other post graduate courses. Lieutenant Governor G C Murmu directed for amendment in reservation rules of 2005 and reserved 4%quota for Paharis.
However, this decision is not acceptable to the Paharis, who see it as injustice with the educationally, socially and politically backward community of the Jammu & Kashmir. The Paharis, which form a significant part of the population, demand for the ST status and are in no condition want to accept less than that.
On 2nd of August 2006, as per THE NORTH ASIAN INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH JOURNAL OF SOCIAL SCIENCE AND HUMANITIES, the government of J&K discussed ST status for Paharis with Centre. The congress recognized the demand in its manifesto and common minimum programme (CMP).
Dr. Farooq Abdullah, the then chief minister of state Jammu and Kashmir, had categorically announced in the state legislative assembly on 1st day of assembly session on 5th of April 2002 that pahari people of state would be declared ST before assembly election of that year.
KASHMIR TIMES, (The daily newspaper) on 5th April 2002 reported that "special emphasis will be paid on promotion of backward communities including Gujjars and bakarwals, gaddis, STs and SCs .The government will strive for extension of ST status to the Pahari tribals of the state”
The government of India rejected the demand in 2000 & 2002 based on recommendation of a parliament panel due to lack of evidence supporting the existence of Pahari tribe.
As reported by Kashmir Times, the state cabinet for first time recommended to central government to consider ST status for Paharis on 10 Jan 2004 under the leadership of Mufti Muhammad Syed, the then Chief Minister.
On 29th Of March 2004, Mufti Muhammad Syed, defended his government decision of 9th Feb 2004, regarding recommendation for granting ST status to Pahari people.
In the convention Mufti Syed added, “I do admit that ST status was not given to Gujjars and bakarwals in time but you should not react to recommendation regarding same for Pahari tribals. We are not snatching your rights. All Paharis are not rich and majority of them too deserves same benefits”.
State government has almost acknowledged the entity of Pahari tribe and extended their rights in sponsored schemes.
- Paharis have separate advisory boards.
- Pahari language was introduced in 6th schedule of constitution of J&K
- Scholarship from primary to University level was extended to Pahari students
- Pahari hostels for Pahari students
- Further most, the broadcast in Pahari language started from RADIO KASHMIR SRINAGAR
- All India radio Poonch and Doordarshan Srinagar and Jammu also started broadcasting programmes in Pahari language.
- Pahari wing also came into being in state cultural academy.
However, even after the above-mentioned facts and the recognition of pahari people, ST status is awaited which has resulted undoubtedly into socio-economic and educational backwardness of Paharis.
What Paharis have suffered and are suffering is only due to grave negligence on part of government and mostly by low leadership qualities among Pahari leaders, but this is an endless battle until ST status is provided to such depressed tribe.