Jammu and Kashmir’s Bakarwals tribes gear up to vote

April 15th, 2009 - 10:06 pm ICT by ANI  

Raipur, Apr. 15 (ANI): Jammu and Kashmir’s Bakarwals tribes are living in a semi-nomadic condition around the polling booths to ensure that every adult in their tribes casts his vote.

Part of Jammu division is going to polls on April 16, in the first phase of the five-phase polling in the state.

Bakarwals said they hope the new administration will take note of their plight and take some concrete steps for their upliftment.

“We believe that they will work for us and we are ready to vote for them, we all will vote,” said Fareed, a bakarwal tribal.

For centuries, Bakarwals have been leading a lonely and tough life in the high-altitude meadows of the Himalayas and the Pir-Panjal ranges.

Every year, their families migrate from the lowland plains to the upper reaches of the Himalaya during the summer, taking their sheep high into the mountains, above the tree-line to graze in the lush meadows.

“We have reached here we have traveled for 3 days in the forest area to reach here,” Mustafa, another bakarwal tribal said.

Keeping in mind their tribal character, the federal Government after decades-long struggle granted the community scheduled tribe status in 1991.

The move aimed at prioritizing their socio economic upliftment.

But Bakarwals complain that their living conditions continue to be pitiable. The community’s literacy rate continues to be quite low while mortality rates are high due to disease and poverty. They blame government apathy for their condition.

Still living in centuries old traditions of nomadic life, many of them want to come to terms with modernization. They want to shift to a settled life and want the government to help them in this regard. (ANI)

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