Tribal Foundation, a NGO for Gujar Bakerwal community claims that loss of lives and properties, lack of basic education, health and communication facilities and restriction on nomadic movement in upper reaches of Himalayan region by security forces have been causing a negative impact on tribal life and economy of Gujjars-Bakerwals resulting in recurrent declines in tribal migrations in Jammu and Kashmir
This was revealed by a latest survey conducted by Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation a National Organization working on Gujjars of Indian States.
Javaid Rahi, national secretary of Tribal Foundation said, “More than 39% Gujjars who are migratory by tradition have relinquished their nomadic lifestyle during last 23 years turmoil in the State adding that there is a great apprehension that the tribal migration will become a history of the past in next few decades.”
“In 2009 the decline ratio was 37%,” he added.
The survey revealed that in absence of “Disaster Management Policies for Tribals” of northern states of India, the community suffers a heavy loss of lives and livestock due to landslide, forest fire, snow and hail storm, man-animal conflict every year and due to these natural calamities the percentage of migratory groups nomadic Gujjars are fastly going down too, he said.
According to the survey, the main reason of declining in Tribal movement is the killing of hundreds of nomadic Gujjars on upper reaches.
Another reason is the restrictions imposed by the Security agencies and militants on tribal migration in border and strategic areas are also causing shadow over the fate of century’s old tradition of seasonal migration, the survey said.
According to the study after closer of Forests in Jammu and Kashmir since 1996 for nomadic communities thousands of Gujjars relinquished the nomadic life style and turned into migratory labourers.
The survey further revealed that Gujjars who lead a lonely and tough life in the high-altitude meadows of the Himalayas and the Pir-Panjal are gradually settling down permanently in plain area.
The scheduled tribe Gujjars which constitute around 20% of total population of State are mostly nomads and are practicing primitive cultural traits and migrating along with their livestock to upper reaches of Himalaya since time immemorial , through seven major tribal migration routes.
The survey suggested that government should formulate a plan to protect their nomadic identity by providing them education, health and communication facilities during their migration at upper reaches.
The survey further suggested that government should on priority formulate a disaster management policy for tribal and nomadic communities and the orders restricting the movement of Gujjars must be revoked immediately.
Whereas, the government body is not aware of the survey done by the Tribal Foundation.
Chowdhary Bashir Naz, vice-chairman of the State Advisory Board for Development of Gujjars and Bakerwals said, “I am not aware of this survey, I personally feel that not more than 1% of the Gujjar community has relinquished their tradition of movement towards the upper reaches.”
“It’s true that some of them have been settled down, that too because they are now concerned about the education of their children, the turmoil has also affected their movement is past years, but now the situation is normal, and they are moving freely in the upper reaches,” he added.