SRINAGAR: The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) today approved inclusion of Pahari Ethnic Group, Paddari Tribe, Koli and Gadda Brahmans in the Scheduled Tribes (STs) and the proposal will now go to the Cabinet followed by amendment in the STs Order to be carried out by the Parliament, which is expected to be done in coming winter session starting this month end.
Quoting official sources newspaper Daily Excelsior reported that the Commission after series of meetings approved the proposal for including Pahari Ethnic Group, Paddari Tribe, Koli and Gadda Brahmans in the list of STs. Presently, the ST status are conferred upon Gujjars and Bakerwals.
“The Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs had moved the proposal for inclusion of these groups in the list of STs before the Commission on October 7 following an announcement by Union Home Minister Amit Shah at Rajouri on October 4 and Baramulla on October 5 that Gujjars, Bakerwals and Paharis will get the reservations as per recommendations of Justice GD Sharma Commission,” newspaper Daily Excelsior quoted sources as having said.
The Commission studied the proposal in its meetings and cleared it this morning,” they said.
Soon after the announcement, Union Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Dr Jitendra Singh tweeted: “Thanks to Home Minister Amit Shah for conceding long pending demand of granting ST status to Pahari community”.
He said this could have been possible only in a Government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi which has courage and conviction to transform Jammu and Kashmir.
BJP UT chief Ravinder Raina said the Prime Minister and the Home Minister have given due rights to victimized section of society.
“A long pending demand has been fulfilled with ST status,” Raina said.
According to report sources said the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs will now move the Cabinet memo for clearing reservation under ST category to Pahari Ethnic Group, Paddari Tribe, Koli and Gadda Brahmans. Following approval of the Cabinet, the same Ministry will move a bill in the Parliament for amendment in Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order, 1989 to include these communities in the STs.
When approved by the Parliament, the President will notify revised schedule of STs list under Article 342 of the Constitution of India.
Sources said the bill is likely to be moved in the Parliament by the Tribal Affairs Ministry in coming winter session.
Besides getting 10 percent reservations under ST category in Government jobs, educational institutions etc, the Pahari Ethnic Group, Paddari tribe, Koli and Gadda Brahmans will also be entitled to 10 percent political reservation as nine seats in the Legislative Assembly of 90 in Jammu and Kashmir have been reserved for STs including five in Jammu division and four in Kashmir.
Stage for grant of ST status to Paharis was formally set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day address of 2019 when he made mention of grant of status first followed by Union Home Minister Amit Shah in a rally at Jammu on October 24, 2021. Shah finally announced the ST status for Paharis in October 4 and 5, 2022 rallies at Rajouri and Baramulla based on recommendations of the GD Sharma Panel.
The suggestion for the inclusion of Paharis and others in the STs list had come from the GD Sharma Commission set up for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes in the Union Territory.
Rajouri and Poonch districts in Jammu region and Baramulla and Kupwara districts in Kashmir have considerable population of Paharis among other areas. Paddari tribe mostly resides in Paddar and surrounding areas of Kishtwar. The Delimitation Commission has also approved one separate Assembly seat for Paddar.
Koli and Gadda Brahmans have limited population in different areas.
The STs enjoyed reservation in jobs, education etc, but they were denied political reservations in Jammu and Kashmir for a long time though such a reservation existed in Lok Sabha and Assemblies across the country. This was, however, after abrogation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir in August 5, 2019 that the Government extended political reservations to STs in J&K.
The Scheduled Castes have eight percent reservations in the Union Territory and, for them, seven seats, like earlier, are reserved in the Legislative Assembly. However, out of five, no Lok Sabha seat in J&K is reserved.