Kashmir Indepth

Gujjars, Kashmiri youth decry Centre for not fulfilling promises

Ishtiyaq Ahmad

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Srinagar, August 09 (KINS): The Centre’s promises with Gujjars and providing employment to the youth in Kashmir is still far from the reality, a year after abrogation of Article 370.

This could be gauged that the Forests Rights Act is yet to be implemented despite passing of one year since abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019.

On December 18, 2006, parliament passed Forest Right Act- 2006 whereby the Schedule Tribe and other traditional forest dwellers were entitled to have rights on forest land and other resources.

The Act could not be implemented as Jammu and Kashmir had Article 370 owing to which central laws were not being directly implemented in the erstwhile state.

Tribal and forest dwellers have been demanding extension of the Act to J&K so that they too can enjoy “rights” on the forest land.
State President J&K Gujjar Bakerwal Youth Conference Zahid Parvaz Chowdhary said the BJP government has made fake promises with people of J&K.

“Nothing has been done to implement Forest Rights Act in Jammu and Kashmir, which is already in place across the country. Gujjars are being evicted from forest land in Jammu. Gujjars are being deliberately targeted as they are Muslims,” Chowdhary told news agency Kashmir Indepth News Service (KINS).

He said there are over 20 lakh Gujjars residing in J&K.
Under this Act, forest dwellers can cultivate land to a maximum of four hectares and have rights on the minor forest produce. Former PDP legislator, Qamar Hussain, had moved a bill to the Assembly, seeking implementation of the Forest Right Act. However, the BJP had opposed the bill.

A senior official of the Forest Department said a process has been started to implement the Forest Rights Act. “It may take some time to execute it on the ground,” he added.

At the time of the abrogation of Article 370, the administration had announced that 50,000 posts would be filled up soon. But, the government has only just begun recruitment for the first phase, for 10,000 posts.

“Providing employment to Kashmiri youth is still far from reality. There has been no positive development on the ground since August 5 last year,” said Sahil Ahmad, who has done masters.(KINS)

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