JAMMU: In a significant decision, the Legislative Assembly today passed a landmark Bill to extend reservation benefits to the Pahari Speaking people in the State. The issue was hanging fire for the past several decades.
The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill 2014 aimed at amending Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act-2004 was introduced in the House by the Minister for Social Welfare, Sajad Gani Lone.
The Minister while explaining the objectives and reasons for introducing the Bill said the Pahari Speaking people are mainly concentrated in remote areas of the State and are a subject of considerable economic distress, which is being witnessed from their backwardness in reference to socio-economic indices.
He said they are backward socially, economically and educationally and mostly they are not able to compete with higher sections of the society who are better placed in terms of socio-economic position as also in terms of access to services like education and health care.
Sajad Lone said with the scheduling of Gujjars and Bakerwals as Tribes, the Pahari Speaking people are not able to derive any benefit even of the lower rung in respect of getting employment and other amenities, which testified that Pahari Speaking people are suffering from socio-economic backwardness and inadequacy of representation as a class.
The Minister said that the proposed Bill, therefore, aims at bringing the community within the ambit of positive discrimination as governed by the constitutional principal of affirmative action and as applied to other marginalized communities of the country.
Several legislators included Ravinder Raina, Jewan Lal, G M Saroori, Usman Abdul Majid, Mubarak Gul, Vikar Rasool Wani, R S Pathania, Shah Mohammad Tantray, Yawar Ahmad Mir, Altaf Ahmad Wani, Shakhti Raj Parihar, Mohammad Shafi Uri, Javaid Hassan Beigh and Satpaul Sharma supported the Bill.
However, they demanded that every area of Pahari Speaking People should be covered under the ambit of the Bill.
After thorough discussions, the House passed the Bills with voice vote.