The Jammu & Kashmir Gujjar Bakerwal Joint Forum, a main organization of the tribal community of the state, on Sunday opposed Omar Abdullah’s government decision to give reservation to Pahari speaking people on linguistic grounds, saying that it will open a new tug of war between the originally suppressed people and those privileged classes who want benefits of reservation at any cost.
Reacting to Omar’s announcement granting five per cent reservation to Pahari speaking people, the Forum president Haji Noor ud Din Noorani said that language cannot be a criteria to declare a community backward and grant reservation to them. Noorani, who was presiding a meeting of the community members, also asked the chief minister to review his decision and implement the reservation policy honestly instead of making it the basis of vote bank politics.
Regretting that language has been made the basis for granting five per cent reservation to a community for the first time in the country, he accused Omar Abdullah led National Conference-Congress coalition government of demolishing the very basis on which the policy of reservation was conceived. The reservation to Pahari speaking people has nothing to do with their economic advancement, he pointed out.
The Gujjars and Bakerwals were given scheduled tribe status by the Centre in 2001. Since then, the non-Gujjars living in their neighbourhood especially Rajouri and Poonch districts have been demanding benefits of reservation to them as well, but their demand is opposed by the Gujjar and Bakerwal community who has all along been supporting either the Congress or the National Conference. The Omar Abdullah’s latest decision granting reservation to paharis has made Gujjars and Bakerwals his opponents.