37% decline in Tribal Migration of Gujjars in two decades: Survey

Turmoil in JK effects Nomadic life too


Heavy loss of precious lives and properties, lack of basic education, health and communication facilities and resections on nomadic movement in upper reaches of Himalayan region are causing a devastating impact on tribal life and economy of Gujjars resulting in recurrent declines in tribal migrations in the State of Jammu and Kashmir revealed a latest survey conducted by Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation a National Organization working on Gujjars of Indian States.
Quoting survey, Dr. Javaid Rahi, National Secretary of Tribal Foundation said that more than 37% Gujjars who are migratory by tradition have relinquished their nomadic lifestyle during last 20 years turmoil in the State adding that there is a great apprehension that the tribal migration will become a history of the past in next few decades.
The survey revealed that in absence of “Disaster Management Polices for Tribals” of Northern states of India the community, suffers a heavy loss of lives and livestock due to landslide, forest fire, snow and hail storm, man-animal conflict every year and due to these natural calamities the percentage of migratory groups nomadic Gujjars are fastly going down too, he said.
According to survey , the main r reason of declining in Tribal movement is the killing of hundreds of nomadic Gujjars on upper reaches , in the turmoil.
Another reason is the restrictions imposed by the Security agencies and militants on tribal migration in border and strategic areas are also causing shadow over the fate of centuries old tradition of seasonal migration, the survey said .
According to the study after closer of Forests in Jammu and Kashmir since 1996 for nomadic communities thousands of Gujjars relinquished the nomadic life style and turned into migratory labourers.
The Gujjars and Bakarwals nomadic groups are spread throughout the northern part of the Himalayan Range and they are facing a number of hardships in day to day life,due to no availabilities a basic amenities on upper reaches , the study said. The lack of education and health facilities , communications also pressing hard the nomadic communities to give up their nomadic life styles and compelled them to opt for new professions, the survey said.
The survey further revealed that Gujjars who lead a lonely and tough life in the high-altitude meadows of the Himalayas and the Pir-Panjal are gradually settling down permanently in plain area.
The survey said the besides Jammu and Kashmir state , the nomadic Gujjars of Uttarakhand,Himachal Pardesh are also facing identical problems.
Since time immemorial the Gujjars, take their sheep high into the mountains, above the tree-line to graze in the lush meadows. It may take them as many as sixty days to reach these meadows. During the summer, they move from one meadow to the other.
The Scheduled Tribe Gujjars which constitute around 20% of total population of State are mostly nomads and are practicing primitive cultural traits and migrating along with their livestock to upper reaches of Himalaya since time immemorial , through seven major tribal migration routes.
The survey suggested that government should formulate a plan to protect their nomadic identity by providing them education, health and communication facilities during their migration at upper reaches. The survey further suggested that government should on priority formulate a disaster management policy for tribal and nomadic communities and the orders restricting the movement of Gujjars must be revoked immediately.

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