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ST status to Paharis: BJP optimistic about expanding its footprint in Kashmir
2/7/2024 10:36:17 PM

Early Times Report

Jammu, Feb 7: Notwithstanding resentment being shown by some groups, the passing of the historic “Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Schedule Tribes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2023” has brightened the chances of the BJP to expand its footprints in Kashmir Valley ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. After the passing of this much-publicized bill in the Parliament, the “Pahari ethnic group”, “Paddari Tribe,” “Koli,” and “Gadda Brahman” communities will be included in the Scheduled Tribe List of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
The historic bill, which is going to change the political landscape in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, was introduced in Parliament by Arjun Munda, the Minister of Tribal Affairs, on July 17, 2023.
After this masterstroke, the BJP is optimistic about opening its account in Kashmir Valley in the coming Lok Sabha elections because Paharis are a dominant vote bank in the newly carved Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha constituency.
Although BJP had won three Lok Sabha during the 2014 and 2019 Parliamentary elections from the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir the party failed to open its account in Kashmir Valley.
After the bifurcation of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories, the Ladakh Lok Sabha seat is now separated from J&K which is left with five Parliamentary seats.
Sources in the BJP said that the party leadership has set a target of winning at least three out of a total of five Lok Sabha seats in J&K.
BJP had won Jammu-Poonch, Udhampur-Doda, and Ladakh Lok Seats in the 2019 elections repeating the performance of the 2014 Parliamentary polls.
This time party has set a target of improving the tally of the previous two elections because after the delimitation of Lok Sabha seats in Jammu and Kashmir BJP has a
Old List of STs in J&K
1. Balti
2. Beda
3. Bot, Boto
4. Brokpa, Drokpa, Dard, Shin
5. Changpa
6. Garra
7. Mon
8. Purigpa
9. Gujjar
10. Bakarwal
11. Gaddi
12. Sippi
New List of STs in J&K
1. Bakarwal
2. Balti
3. Beda
4. Bot, Boto
5. Brokpa, Drokpa, Dard, Shin
6. Changpa
7. Gadda Brahmin
8. Gaddi
9. Garra
10. Gujjar
11. Koli
12. Mon
13. Paddari Tribe
14. Pahari Ethnic Group
15. Purigpa
16. Sippi.
fair chance of winning the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat.
As part of its strategy for the Lok Sabha elections in the Union Territory of J&K, BJP is focussing on Paharies to make inroads in these Muslim majority districts of Poonch, Rajouri, Baramulla, and Kupwara.
During his visit to J&K in the first week of October 2022, Union Home Minister Amit Shah addressed rallies in Rajouri and Baramulla districts which are dominated by Paharis.
Keeping in view the deep ethnic divide among Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Paharies in this mountainous belt, BJP is now focussing on Pahari Muslims to further expand its base in the twin border districts of Poonch and Rajouri.
A prominent Pahari face of Rajouri, Mohammad Iqbal Malik has already joined the party and won the election as a DDC member on a BJP ticket.
BJP has supported ST status for Paharies - a community that is a dominant force in Poonch, Rajouri districts of Jammu province, and Baramulla and Kupwara districts in Kashmir Valley.
After delimitation boundaries of all five Lok Sabha seats have changed, the entire Poonch district and areas of Rajouri district have become part of South Kashmir with the creation of the Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha seat. This has assured parity in the Parliamentary seats with Jammu and Kashmir divisions having two and a half seats each.
The entire Poonch district and Rajouri, Nowshera, and Thanna Mandi Assembly constituencies of Rajouri district are part of the Anantnag-Rajouri Parliamentary seat. Anantnag, Kulgam, and Shopian districts will be part of this seat from South Kashmir.
The Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha Constituency comprises Assembly segments including Zainapura, Damhal Hanjipora, Kulgam, Devsar, Dooru, Larnoo, Anantnag West, Anantnag, Pahalgam, Nowshera, Rajouri, Darhal, Thanna Mandi, Surankote, Poonch and Mendhar.
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