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The Gujjars and Bakerwals on Sunday demanded that the amendment bill be extended to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, which was passed by the Rajya Sabha by a voice vote, had gotten the nod from the Lok Sabha on 6th August. According to Gujjar leaders, this bill could help their tribes to fight against atrocities that they were facing legally, constitutionally as well as politically.

On Sunday, at a discussion that was organised under the banner of tribal research and cultural foundation (A foundational organisation of Gujjars-Bakerwals), noted Gujjar research scholar Dr Javid Rahi said that to provide social equality and speedy justice to the tribals of Jammu and Kashmir, the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act passed by the Parliament in amended form should be extended to J&K and added that through this, JK tribals can enjoy rights accorded to tribal communities in other states. “Such a provision, if extended to J&K, can not only prevent atrocities, discrimination and harassment against the SC/STs but will also provide the legal safeguard against anti-tribal forces” he added.

Rahi also appealed to the president of India,Ram Nath Kovind,and the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, N N Vohra, to intervene in the matter in order to protect their safety, dignity, equality and tribal rights. He added that if the act doesn’t get approved, parallel laws must be drawn in the state to address the issues of the tribal communities.

The Gujjars and Bakerwals are the largest nomadic community of Jammu and Kashmir and they migrate to Kashmir in summer and back to Jammu in winter. Associated to the caste-based profession of raring animals, both communities are marginalised and are severely lacking in resources. They also do have any form of political representation in Jammu and Kashmir.

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