Indian Army bars our entry into Gurez Valley: Bakerwals

Srinagar, July 12, 2014: Indian Army’s fencing of registered pasture lands near Line of Control (LoC) to curb movement of Kashmiri liberation acivists in Gurez has affected the livelihood of thousands of Bakerwals.
This year hundreds of nomads along with their livestock are stranded at Razdan Top as they said that Indian army has barred their entry to the Gurez valley.
Shepherds coming from various parts Kashmir said that Indian Army is putting the livelihood of almost 500 families constituting 5,000 people associated with the rearing of animals at stake. They said Indian Army under the garb of guarding  Line of Control has encroached   the prime pasture lands in Bagtore, Ganpathri, Nanipost, Hajibal, Shalipathri and Tulaial area of Gurez leaving thousands of shepherds jobless. Shepherd said that those who were allowed to enter into Gurez valley are forced to pay bribes in the form of livestock and are asked to keep watch on the movement of guerillas what they called militants.
They said that Indian army officers at many posts including Baduab post are forcing them to leave one or two sheep at their post then only they were allowed to move ahead.
Those who offer sheep and honor, they only get the access to the pastureland to graze their cattle, they said. 
“We are around 5,000 people associated with rearing of animals at present and are earning our livelihood through this. But Indian Army has rendered us jobless. We are being forced to move from one village to another,” said Mehendi Gujjar Chichi.
Hundreds of shepherd families who have reached Gurez area after proper official documentation further said that they are not being allowed by Indian Arm officails to move ahead to reach to their pasture lands.
Shepherds said that Army has left the earlier demarcated borderline unused and have erected the new wiring about twenty kilometers inside the pasturelands at many places. “During winters, the fencing get damaged and in\ summers they demarcate new area for fencing and change the location,” they said.
Abdul Gafoor Mogla of Kalakote Rajouri heading 60 families of shepherds said that he has been forced to move form pillar to post in spite of having proper documentation from the concerned authorities.
“I have about 7,000 animals including sheep, goat and cattle but Indian Army is not allowing us to move forward forcing our livestock to starve,” he said.
Gafoor said that their elders have been using the Husangam Tulail Pasture land from the last thirty years but as the Army Raj Rifes unit took the charge at Baduaab, shepherds have been rendered jobless.
Similarly Gulab Khan of Turkpora who uses pasture land of Habkhatun Burine in Tulail saidd that Indian Army is not allowing him and his realtices to enter the pasture land which was used by his ancestors since long time.
“It is unfortunate  that we are being harassed in different ways by the  Indian Army. Even we are being asked to do the risky job in order to graze our cattle in the pasture lands” Shepherds said.
 Meanwhile, The Gujjar and Bakerwal community have asked Indian armed forces to withdraw ‘restriction imposed on seasonal tribal migration’ towards highland pastures in Gurez and nearby areas. 
 In a message sent to Defense Minister of India and authorities in Kashmir, the Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation has demanded, “The Indian security forces on Friday stopped the nomadic movement towards Gurez and other areas of Bandipure districts. Against restrictions, the community staged protest at Block Development Office.
Earlier a delegation of nomads of Bandipur had met with Javaid Rahi, Secretary Tribal Foundation highlighting the issues related to tribal migrations.
The Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation communiqué said that the residents of Malan Gaam, Turkipora, Chandaji, and Chuk of Bandipora have been moving to these highland pastures for centuries and economy of the Gujjars depended on pastures.
The animals survives on grass there for over six months in a year, the memo reads.
The communiqué further said that sheep, goats and cattle reared by Gujjars and Bakerwals are starving as there is no grazing land available for them in lower areas.
The memorandum demanded that hundreds of Gujjar families who regularly move along with their 20,000 cattle towards the grazing pastures locally called Bahki situated in Ganpathri, Nanipost, Begtore, Hajibal, Shalipathri should be allowed without any hassle.
Communiqué further reads that the  Indian armed forces in J&K had also restricted the entry of Gujjars Bakerwals in few Dhoks and Pastures other than Bandipora, located near LOC in districts like Poonch, Rajouri, Jammu, Kathua, Baramulla, Kupwara, Jammu , Kathua , Kargil and Leh.
All such order needs to be immediate revocated as the Gujjars and Bakerwals have suffered a great loss economically.” said the communiqué.
The letter further reads, “Since November 25, 2003 as ceasefire come into force between Pakistan and India, the tension has been reduced and now and this is the right time to allow tribal communities to move freely in their traditional areas located in Ladakh and on other LOC areas.”  (Sources RK Sheikh Saleem Gurez)