Pahari Community Reiterates Demand For ST Status

Pahari Community Reiterates Demand For ST Status

21 January 2014
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Shyam Sood

Rajouri: The executive body of the J&K Pahari People Movement (JKPPM) has decided to meet the Prime Minister, other senior ministers, leaders of the Opposition and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal demanding ST status for the Pahari-speaking community. In their executive body meeting here today, more than 400 activists registered themselves to assist the delegation, which was scheduled in the first week of February. Shabaz Khan and Vijay Kochhar, senior leaders of the JKPPM, while talking to mediapersons said the community was fighting for their demand for ST status for the last more than 27 years. “Our community is sharing the same culture, inhabitation and customs with those of the Gujjars and Bakerwals, who have been enjoying benefits under the ST status for the last more than 30 years and our unemployed youth are facing competition from students of urban and metropolitan cities,” said Shabaz Khan, chief executive, JKPPM. Pahari speaking community from Rajouri and Poonch districts in Jammu Province and Uri and Karnah districts in Kashmir province have urged the state government and leaders of other parties to support them in their struggle. “If the community will not get support, we will not cast vote in their favour and the community will field its own candidates in the forthcoming parliamentary and Assembly elections,” said Shahbaz Khan. Former Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah had approached the Union government on October 14, 1991, and recommended it to provide ST status to Paharis. On December 26, 1993, the then Governor of the state, KV Krishna Rao, wrote to the then Union Social Welfare Minister, Sita Ram Kesri, recommending inclusion of the community in the ST category. In 2005, J&K assembly also passed resolution to provide ST status to this community Others prominent leaders who attended the meeting included Mohd Aslam Mirza, district president, JKPPM, Haji Talib Mirza, Vinod Kumar and Rajive Sharma, state president, Pahari Students Union.