SRINAGAR: On expected lines, home minister Amit Shah on Tuesday announced that the one million Pahari-speaking community of Jammu and Kashmir will, along with its nomadic Gujjar and Bakarwal populations, get reservation benefits in accordance with the recommendations of the Justice Sharma Commission that examined the issue of quota.
While addressing a public rally in the frontier town of Rajouri, Shah reiterated that the development of J&K is a priority for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"Earlier injustice was meted out to the Pahari people of J&K, as they did not get any reservation," Shah said and added, "But the Prime Minister cleared the way for reservation by removing Article 370. The Justice Sharma Commission was formed to consider reservations, which has sent its recommendations to give reservation to the Pahari as well as to the Bakarwal and Gujjar people."
He said that as soon as the administrative process of these recommendations is over, the Gujjar, Bakarwal and Pahari people are going to get the benefits of reservation.
The Gujjars and some other tribal communities of J&K who were listed as Scheduled Tribes in 1991 are opposing the grant of such a status and other similar benefits to the Paharis with the argument that it will dilute the entire ST status. Over the past few weeks, they have held protests at some places in the Jammu region.
However, the home minister assured that granting reservation benefits to the Pahari community will not reduce the benefits guaranteed to the Gujjars and Bakarwals "even by one percent".
He said that a few people do not want peace in J&K and are inciting Gujjars and Bakarwals in the name of ST status being given to Paharis but the people have foiled their design. He said that the Prime Minister wants to develop the Pir Panjal region of J&K, the people of which have shed their blood to protect the borders of India.
"Today, like the rest of the country, the youth of Rajouri and Poonch should also be employed; entrepreneurship should be promoted in the region; people should get the benefit of reservation and MLAs and MPs should be elected from the region,'' he said.
The home minister, on reaching Srinagar on Tuesday evening, began holding a series of meetings with the government functionaries and senior officers of J&K police, Central armed police forces, the Army, the paramilitary forces and intelligence agencies to review the security of the Union Territory and the work underway on various developmental projects.
Shah is scheduled to address a public rally in the frontier district of Baramulla on Wednesday and lay foundation stones for and inaugurate various projects across J&K....