Sunday, December 20, 2009

Time old Gujjar “Jirgas” under threat of extinction in J&K : Study

The Tribal Judicial system ‘Jirga’ popular in Gujjars of Jammu and Kashmir since centuries will becoming a history of past in next few decades if timely steps are not being taken by State legislature for its recognition and protection by making these " Tribal Courts" constitutionally valid through an enactment said a latest study conducted by Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation a premier organization of Gujjars of Indian States. Dr. Javaid Rahi Secretary Tribal Foundation said that during study it was found that this oldest popular system of justice needs immediate legal recognitions otherwise this tradition will extinct in next few decades. “Jirgas are still popular in Tribal Areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan and enjoying legal sanctity but in Jammu and Kashmir this system is surviving since centuries without constitutional safeguards” said Dr. Rahi and added “we consider this traditional judicial system as a vibrant instrument of our cultural heritage and our organization will fight vigorously for constitutional recognitions of Jirgas in J&K . As per study , in Gujjars of J&K around 72 present still believe and practice traditional Jirga system which is being headed by “Muqadams” an elderly tribal which takes decisions on various issues by consensus. Some Gujjar women called “Mahries” also heading Jirgas in some remotest pockets of the State, the study said. The study further said that the Gujjar “Jirgas” are more effective and powerful in community in difficult areas and the Muqadams or Mahries after listening to all parties or sides, pronounce a decision according to the oral traditional law of the tribe or religious law.” In bigger disputes senior Gujjar leaders or religious personalities figures, the study said. As per study due to un-availability of legal tools J&K Gujjar Jirgas are not interfering in criminal case but they decides almost all other major ticklish disputes includes land and assets issues, family disputes, theft cases or other issues related to tribals only. As per study , all tribals are bound to respect Jirga and if any party or parties fails to comply or respect a jirga decision, they are liable to be ousted. Gujjars believes that this is irreligious to defy the Jirgas. The study revealed that the Jirgas are also powerful in maintaining law and order in upper reaches and difficult to reach areas of the State . The study says that Gujjars believe in Jirgas because they are free of cost, quick and are nearest to them. The study says in order to avoid interference of Police the a substantial chunk of Gujjars and Bakerwals pin faith on this time-tested tribal system to settle disputes and redress grievances As per study Gujjars Jirga can award capital punishment, social boycott or expulsion from the community only. The study says that in J&K till date the Jirga system is without legal protections, and needs to be protected with new provisions of the constitution and law of the land.