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With focus on Paharis, Shah to sound BJP’s poll bugle in J&K
9/26/2022 12:50:48 AM
Early Times Report

Jammu, Sept 25: Even as local BJP leaders are “downplaying” the forthcoming visit of Amit Shah as a “routine” to review developmental activities, the Union Home is going to sound the poll bugle for the maiden Assembly elections in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
Venues selected by the party for two rallies to be addressed by the Union Home Minister during his visit three-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir is a clear indication that the BJP is trying to woo Pahari-speaking Muslims of the Union Territory.
During his three-day visit to J&K from September 30 to October 2, Shah will address rallies in Rajouri and Baramulla districts. Both districts are dominated by Pahari-speaking people and the decision of the party to organize rallies reflects the party’s agenda to focus on this dominant ethnic group of Jammu and Kashmir.
“Union Home Minister Amit Shah will address a rally at Rajouri on October 1 and another rally at Baramulla on October 2”, Tarun Chugh, national general secretary of the party and in-charge J&K said while interacting with media persons.
Shah is likely to make some important announcements regarding Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to the Pahari-speaking people.
BJP has already identified Gujjars, Bakarwals, and Paharis of the mountainous belts of the state, and Sheenas, especially of the Gurez area of north Kashmir, as the ethnic groups among Muslims which will be involved in strengthening its base in the Muslim-dominated belts.
The BJP leadership has a reason to focus on the ethnic groups among Muslims because Gujjars and Bakarwals, who belong to the Scheduled Tribes (STs) category, are going to benefit after the scrapping of Article 370. After getting the ST status in 1991, the Gujjars and Bakarwals have been agitating to get political reservations like in other parts of the country.
J&K is the only state in northwest India having a share of nearly 15 percent population of STs. As per the 2011 census, the total population of STs in J&K was 14.9 lakh, including 13.2 lakh Muslims, one lakh Buddhists, and about 67,000 Hindus.
As far as the Paharis are concerned, BJP has already promised to grant ST status of this community. Twin border districts of Poonch and Rajouri in the Jammu region, and Bandipora, Kupwara, and Baramulla in north Kashmir are dominated by Pahari Muslims.
Sheenas, an ethnic group of Gurez, have already been declared STs and they will also get political reservations after the abrogation of Article 370.
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