SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir National Conference on Friday said while the government had allowed Gujjar and Bakarwal community to embark on their annual transmigration, nothing substantial has been done to ensure their safety in view of the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic.
In an uncanny manner, the authorities tried to evade its responsibility by allowing the migratory tribes to motion towards Kashmir without giving a thought to the challenges that the global pandemic has thrown at us, the party functionaries Ghulam Ahmad Shah, Kafeel Ur Rahman, Showkat Ahmad Mir, Syed Tauqeer Ahmad and Salam Ud Din Bajad said in a joint statement while expressing concern over the plethora of problems the tribal people are facing in wake of lockdown and COVID-19 crises.
“Feeling scared and left out, the tribals have been left to their own fate. No substantial medical facility and other supplementary arrangements have been put in place to assuage the miseries the tribals and their livestock is going through during these trying times. These people embarked on a journey covering hundreds of kilometres to preserve their cattle, which is their source of livelihood. Of the lakhs of Gujjar Bakarwals in J&K, at least 15 lakh begin to migrate by the end of April. Unconcerned about the hardships, authorities have failed to provide required medical staff, and other sanitary kits to the migratory tribes, where ever they have put up in the higher reaches of Kashmir division. No efforts have been taken by the authorities of the divisional administration of Jammu and Kashmir on the smooth supply of ration and other edibles to these people. We have been told that the tribes were not allowed to bring their milch animals with them. The age-old procedures of seeking permission have changed; they’re not being allowed to take milch animals, cows and buffaloes, with them, thus adding to their worries about the supply of food security over a to-and-fro expedition that will last for months all together,” the functionaries said in a joint statement.
Since 2015 the industrious and peace-loving community of Gujjars, and Bakarwals have been facing marginalization in Jammu and Kashmir, the functionaries said the administration cannot shut its eyes to their woes. “These people contribute to the GDP of our economy in countless ways. Unfortunately, there has been no let-up in their problems; the successive governments since 2015, and the incumbent administration has let them down,” the functionaries added.
The functionaries urged the administration to provide all necessary facilities to the tribes along migratory track and meadows. “Medics should immediately be rushed to the spots where these people are putting up. Besides that proper testing facility, sanitary kits should also be provided to them to help them ward off the COVID-19 threat. Additionally, all the tribal families who have migrated from Jammu to Kashmir should be provided free ration for 4 months including other necessary condiments like pulses, wheat flour, cooking oil,” they said.