Autonomy against interests of Schedule Tribes: Gujjar leaders
20 June 2000
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: Gujjar Bakerwal Welfare Association and Bharatiya Janata Party, (BJP) Scheduled Tribe Cell have denounced the National Conference Government''s move on autonomy. Addressing a joint press conference, Ch. Noor Ahmed president All J&K Gujjar and Bakerwal Welfare Association and Sardar Mohammed Khatana, president BJP Scheduled Tribe Cell termed the NC Government''s move a treachery. They said NC has betrayed the people by raising the bogy of autonomy at a juncture when the state is facing a proxy war from across the border. They said people in 1996 had participated in the political process with the hope that the elected Government will eliminate militancy and mitigate their (peoples'') problems but the NC Government has done contrary to this all. They said the Government headed by Dr Farooq Abdullah which has failed on all fronts has now raised the bogy of autonomy as a ploy for future elections. Blaming the State Government for the present mess. Ch. Noor Ahmed alleged that Gujjar have been suppressed by NC since it came to power. He said the autonomy report will never be in the interests of the community as in its recommendations the Autonomy Committee has suggested that the Gujjars should not be given the Scheduled Tribe status. He said NC has so far failed to address to the genuine problems of the Gujjar community and how can we expect that it will mitigate the problems after grant of more autonomy by the Centre. Accusing the NC Government for misutilisation of funds earmarked for the development of ST community in the state, Sardar Mohammed Khatana said Gujjars are true patriots and will remain Indians for ever. He said the community is strongly opposed to autonomy demand and reversing to pre 1953 position will add to the miseries of the community. These leaders showed also total solidarity with BJP and its programmes and policies. Later talking to mediamen Mr Chander Mohan Sharma, vice president state BJP while detailing about the Party''s agitational programme said BJP has launched movement to oppose the move at all districts and tehsil headquarters. He said a big rally will be held at Akhnoor on June 24 in protest against the State Government''s move. He also criticised the Chief Minister for backtrackting from his assurances given during a seminar that before introducing the bill in Legislature it will be debated on national level. He while opposing the move said BJP will fight tooth and nail against it and will never allow the Chief Minister to centralise all powers.