Srinagar, Feb 6: In a significant development, the Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2023 to grant scheduled tribe status to Paharis Ethnic Group and other communities in Jammu & Kashmir.
According to details available, the Lok Sabha also passed the Scheduled Castes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2023 that seeks to include Valmiki community in the Scheduled Caste list of Jammu & Kashmir.
The ST Bill also includes Gadda Brahman, Koli and Paddari communities to the ST list of Jammu and Kashmir. The house was adjourned for the day soon after the two Bills were passed.
The Bills will now be taken up in the Rajya Sabha for consideration and passage. These Bills were passed nearly seven months after they were introduced in the Lok Sabha. The Bills were introduced in the Lok Sabha on July 26 last year.
The announcement to grant ST status to Pahari Ethnic Group was made by Union Home Minister Amit Shah during public rallies in Baramulla and Rajouri in October 2022.
The grant of ST status would make Paharis eligible for all benefits available to ST category in Jammu and Kashmir. The Paharis are in majority in Nowshera, Kalakote-Sunderbani, Rajouri, Thanmandi, Surankote, Poonch-Haveli, Mendhar, Uri and Karnah assembly segments of J&K.
Notably, Paharis have been fighting for more than three decades for their inclusion in the Schedule Tribe (ST) category.
Prominent Pahari leaders Syed Mushtaq Bukhari (former minister), Raja Aijaz Ali, Vibodh Gupta and other leaders have been at the forefront of the battle to get ST status for Paharis.