In a significant move towards empowering marginalised communities in Jammu and Kashmir, the Lok Sabha, on Tuesday, passed the Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2023, granting scheduled tribe status to the Pahari people and other communities in Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory.
The Lok Sabha also passed the Scheduled Castes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2023, which seeks to include the Valmiki community in the Scheduled Caste (SC) list of Jammu and Kashmir. The ST Bill also includes the Gadda Brahman, Koli, and Paddari communities in the ST list of Jammu and Kashmir.
Paharis have been fighting for more than 3 decades for their inclusion in ST category
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 Lok Sabha, on July 26.
According to official handout, both Bills were passed with support of MPs from across party lines.
This landmark legislation aims to provide Scheduled Tribe status to the Pahari Ethnic Group, Padari Tribes, Koli, and Gadda Brahmin, addressing a longstanding demand from these communities.
The reservation benefits for the newly listed Scheduled Tribes will be implemented in a manner that safeguards the interests of communities already included in the Scheduled Tribes list. Following the passage of the Bill by the Parliament, the Government of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will issue necessary notifications regarding reservations, ensuring that existing Scheduled Tribes continue to receive the same level of reservation.
The government decision comes as a significant step towards addressing the long-standing demand for recognition and rights of these communities, reflecting a commitment to inclusive governance and social justice in the region.