Illegal eviction of Gujjar-Bakarwals from their hutments in J&K must stop: CPI(M)

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Srinagar, Nov 17 (PTI) The Jammu and Kashmir unit of the CPI(M) on Tuesday said the 'illegal eviction' of the members of the Gujjar-Bakarwal community from their hutments by authorities is 'atrocious' and must be stopped forthwith.

In a statement, Jammu and Kashmir CPI(M) secretary Ghulam Nabi Malik said it is ironic that these nomadic communities, who have been protecting forests for centuries, are being evicted illegally.

'If somebody, irrespective of his religion and political affiliation, is a land grabber, action should be taken against him, but instead, poor nomads are being evicted from their dhoks (temporary shelters),' he said.

Malik said under the Dogra rule (1846-1947), the Gujjar-Bakarwal tribal community was given access to forests with proper registration and families were allotted patches of land.

'A major chunk of these tribals are landless and shelter-less, entitled for dwelling rights on forest lands which they were using and managing as traditional inhabitants since centuries together,' he said.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader said the Centre has failed to extend the Forest Rights Act, 2006 to Jammu and Kashmir, which could have protected the community.

'Under the Act, rights of traditional forest dwellers stand protected against forced displacements, evictions from forest lands which the Gujjars, Bakarwals, Gaddis were facing for the last many decades. The extension of the Act will help in the rehabilitation of the nomads who are facing social pressures,' he said.

The issues of the Gujjars and Bakarwals, who constitute a sizable chunk of the population in Jammu and Kashmir, are humanitarian and must be seen in a humanitarian perspective, Malik said, adding that the government must stop the 'illegal eviction' of the nomadic community without any delay as they have nowhere to go in this harsh winter. PTI SSB RC