Rajya Sabha clears Bills to add Paharis, Valmikis to ST, SC lists in J&K

Amid protests in Jammu and Kashmir, Tribal Affairs Minister assured that reservation already available for these existing tribes will be maintained while giving new communities additional quota

February 09, 2024 10:11 pm | Updated 10:11 pm IST - New Delhi/ Srinagar

Union Minister of Tribal Affairs Arjun Munda speaks in the Rajya Sabha during the Interim Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi on Friday.

Union Minister of Tribal Affairs Arjun Munda speaks in the Rajya Sabha during the Interim Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi on Friday. | Photo Credit: ANI

Amid ongoing protests in Jammu and Kashmir by the Scheduled Tribe Gujjar-Bakarwal community against it, the Rajya Sabha on February 9 cleared the way for the addition of the Pahari ethnic group to the Union Territory’s Scheduled Tribes list.

Along with it, the Upper House passed the Bills that added the Paddari Tribe, Gadda Brahmin, and Koli communities to the ST list and the Valmiki community (including synonyms) to the Scheduled Castes list of Jammu and Kashmir.

During his reply to the discussion on the Bills, Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda addressed the concern of the existing Scheduled Tribe communities in Jammu and Kashmir like the Gujjar-Bakarwal and Gaddi communities.

Also Read | Centre moves Bill to provide reservation to OBCs in local bodies in J&K

He said, “This Bill will ensure that the reservation already available for these existing tribes will be maintained while giving these new communities additional reservation. The work of ensuring that everyone gets justice and no community’s reservation is affected is being done through this Bill.”

‘No dilution’

And given the growing protests by Gujjars and Bakerwals, the BJP has started percolating this message on the ground as well. “The ST quota of Gujjar and Barkerwal will remain unaffected and there would be no dilution in the same,” Jammu and Kashmir BJP president Ravinder Raina said.

Protesting leaders from the Gujjar community have already threatened to intensify their agitation against the Centre’s move. “When the BJP failed to do development of people, it has started to distribute reservation as charity. Subclassification is being done only for elections. This is a reservation for political gains,” Gujjar leader Zahid Parwaz Choudhary said.

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