The Gujjars, living in the border areas of Jammu and Kashmir, want the government to help them relocate to safer places following admininstrative orders asking people to shift in the wake of surgical strikes carried out by the Indian Army.
The Gujjars community, whose livelihood depends on livestock, also want the government to help shift their animals along with them.
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“Gujjars and Bakkerwals, who live in the areas along the Indo-Pak border, become the first victims of firing. We are the main sufferer of cross-border firing,” Secretary Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation, Javaid Rahi, claimed.
Following the surgical strikes conducted by the Indian Army across Line of Control on September 29, people living within 10 kms of the border with Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab were asked to shift to safer places.
These directions were passed on to people living along IB in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts and along LOC in Rajouri and Poonch.
He has appealed to Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to give directives to local authorities to provide shelter, food and other facilities to the Gujjars and to arrange fodder for their livestock.
“Every year dozens of Gujjars and their livestock get killed near the border, hundreds are injured and thousands of people migrate every year to safer places during the firing,” Rahi claimed.
He said the Gujjars and Bakerwals are the main tribal group of Jammu Kashmir and constitute 20 percent of total population of the state who occupy frontier areas along the border from Poonch to Lakhanpur and Uri Karnah to Gurz and Kargil.
“The Government of India granted them Schedule Tribe status in 1991 keeping in view their difficult life style,” said Rahi.
“During last one year, around 10 members of the tribal Gujjars community have been killed and hundreds others injured in the shelling and firing along the LoC and IB in Jammu and Poonch districts, triggering migration of about 16000 people from the border hamlets,” he claimed.
He asserted that during the 1947, 1965 and 1971 wars, the Gujjars faced the major brunt as they were killed in large number along the LOC and International Border .