Jammu & Kashmir

‘Admin persecuting Gujjar-Bakerwal communities by evicting them from forests’

Srinagar: PDP president Mehbooba Mufti on Monday accused the Jammu and Kashmir administration of persecuting members of the Gujjar-Bakerwal communities by evicting them from forest areas.

Her remarks came after reports claimed that an eviction drive by the forest department in the upper reaches of the Zampathri area of South Kashmir’s Shopian district turned violent after resistance by the community members.

“A Gujjar from Kellar in Shopian was beaten to pulp by the forest department. On one hand this administration makes tall claims about the implementation of Forest Rights Act while at the same time they continue to hound and persecute these communities,” the PDP chief tweeted.

The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister also posted on Twitter a video of a member of the community claiming he was beaten up by forest department personnel.

Earlier, reports said that scores of the people sustained injuries after the forest eviction drive launched by the Forest department turned violent in the upper reaches of Zampathri.

The eviction drive started by the forest department in the upper reaches of Zampathri area turned violent after the Gujjar community resisted the drive.People from Gujjar community said that they aren’t the permanent residents of the area, saying they have been erecting temporary sheds here for living to graze the cattle.

“However, without serving any notice, the forest department officials reached the spot and started an eviction drive. We have insisted to the officials that we leave the area every year and there was no need to evict us,” they said.

The officials started beating them with whatever came in their way and injured three among them including two women, they alleged, saying that instead of extending helping hand to the people amid the pandemic, the government is pushing them to the wall. They urged the government higher ups to look into the matter.

However, forest officials said that once the eviction drive was started, the people from the whole Gujjar community assembled and made officials as well as journalists hostage in a fenced area of PHE and were not allowing us to come out.

Officials said that at least 10 forest employees and five journalists were injured during the resistance by the Gujjar community.


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