Gujjars say they can not be separated from Bakerwals

JAMMU: Rebuffing attempts by some groups mainly active in Poonch, Rajouri districts and Uri, Karanah tehsils to divide Gujjars and Bakerwals on small ethnic lines,  –writers of the community, reacted sharply and decided to stay united.

They were speaking at a programme organised by Tribal Foundation on the topic ‘Gujjar -Bakerwal: two names -one tribe’.

Dr Javaid Rahi, an editor in the Cultural Academy who also heads the Foundation, said some people in border areas of the state  are working to segregate the vibrant Gujjar identity into many parts to get political benefits out of  the division  which is highly  intolerable  and  strongly condemnable.

Bakerwal, he said, is another name of Gujjars as  like Gujjars have many names like Ajjadh, Dhangar, Dohdhi, Vanvasi. He said those Gujjars who rear “goats” sheep  are called Bakerwals– as word Bakarwal is derived from the term, Bakri / Bakar meaning “goat/Sheep”, and Wal meaning “one who takes care of” therefore this name was given to those Gujjars who are rearing goats and sheep.

The speakers, who name Dr Rahi did not reveal, were quoted saying that Gujjars  and Bakerwals – share same  history, culture, language – Gojri –  and racial identity . Even all anthropological and genetic studies conducted on Gujjars-Bakerwals  says that they are not separate identities  in any ways.

The writers on the occasion  said in 1991 the Gujjars-Bakerwals were granted Tribal status in Jammu and Kashmir and  a study  was conducted by central government before granting  the Scheduled Tribe Status to them. The study  reveals that Bakerwal is another name of Gujjars entered in revenue records that’s why both  the names (Gujjars and Bakerwals) were  included while the community was enlisted in tribal category in Indian constitutions.

The Bakarwals belong to the same ethnicity stock as the Gujjars, and inter-marriages do take place among them as socially and ethnically they are one. Bakarwals have same gotra or clan like Gujjars, many local shepherds, who may not necessarily belong to the community, are often termed as Bakarwal.

The statement quoted the unknown writers saying that the vested interests can not divide  our language, heritage, and poets:  Hazrat Baba Abdullah Larvi, Mian Nizam Din Larvvi. Ismail, Zabee, Isreal Asar, Khuda Baksh Zar, Shams Din Mehjoor.

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