April 29, 2018 8:59:04 pm
Nomadic Gujjars and Bakarwals in Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday demanded that the grazing lands must not be converted for any purposes in the state.
In a programme organised by Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation held in Jammu on the topic “Tribes and land issues,” both the communities stated that government should come up with a law, immediately, and restrict conversion of grazing land, including its change of title/ ownership. “Such conversions are adversely affecting tribal migratory culture and nomadic way of life of STs who are already passing through tough times in Jammu and Kashmir,” the communities stated.
The programme was presided over by noted Gujjar researcher Dr Javaid Rahi while a number of tribal elders, youth and scholars attended the programme.
Dr Javaid Rahi in his presidential address stated that Gujjars and Bakarwals are main animal-rearing communities of the state and lakhs of nomads are solely dependent upon the grazing land. He said “Grazing areas, pastoral land and other community resources belonging to a tribe/village /area or others may not be converted or vested to an agency or agencies for any type of usage. Such changes can badly affect centuries-old traditions of Gujjars, Bakarwals, Gaddis, Sippis and Chanpas of Ladakh.”
The grazing land must be used for animal rearing (Ghaa Chirai) only and should strictly be kept for the tribal community use, the speakers said. They added that pastures are shrinking fast due its rapid conversions for different purposes and a large number of tribal families who are entirely dependent on these lands are facing helplessness.
The speakers said after implementation of Roshni Act in J&K in last decade through which the government vested ownership of land to the occupants – the grazing/free government lands have been occupied by influential people leaving the tribe, landless people aside, which needs a probe. They urged the state governments to formulate a plan for eviction of illegal/unauthorized occupants of grazing land meant for community use.
While allotting big chunks of grazing lands to government offices, defence, NGOs, universities, colleges, the tribals were not consulted and they were thrown out, they said. During the past two decades, vast areas of the grazing land which was traditionally used by cattle grazer families, have been converted for other purposes and it is threatening the livelihood of tribes and their animals, they added.
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