Tribune News Service
Jammu, August 13
The BJP high command has directed its state unit to reach out to the ethnic Muslim groups of J&K to restore normalcy and peace in different areas.
The top brass of the party has identified Gujjars, Bakarwals and Paharis of the mountainous belts of the state, and Sheenas, especially of the Gurez area of north Kashmir, as the ethnic groups among Muslims which will be involved in the normalisation process.
“We have already initiated the process to reach out to the ‘nationalist’ Pahari Muslims in the Jammu region and north Kashmir,” BJP state president Ravinder Raina said, adding, “the party leadership has already established contact with Sheenas of Gurez”.
“These Muslims groups are cooperating with the BJP in singling out those who are trying to exploit sentiments of the people by launching malicious campaign against the abrogation of Article 370 and the bifurcation of J&K,” Raina said.
The BJP leadership has a reason to focus on the ethnic groups among Muslims because Gujjars and Bakarwals, who belong to the Scheduled Tribes (STs) category, are going to benefit after the scrapping of Article 370. After getting the ST status in 1991, the Gujjars and Bakarwals have been agitating to get political reservation like in other parts of the country.
J&K is the only state in the northwest India having a share of nearly 15 per cent population of STs. As per the 2011 census, the total population of STs in J&K was 14.9 lakh, including 13.2 lakh Muslims, one lakh Buddhists and about 67,000 Hindus.
As far as the Paharis are concerned, they got reservation when Governor Satya Pal Malik gave his assent to the J&K Reservation (Amendment) Bill, on January 24 this year. The Governor’s nod had finally cleared the way for three per cent reservation to the persons belonging to the Pahari-speaking community on the basis of their linguistic identity in the state government jobs.
Twin border districts of Poonch and Rajouri in the Jammu region, and Bandipora, Kupwara and Baramulla in north Kashmir are dominated by Pahari Muslims.
Sheenas, an ethnic group of Gurez, have already been declared STs and they will also get political reservations after the abrogation of Article 370.
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