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JAMMU: The Gujjars and Bakerwals which constitute largest migratory tribes of Jammu and Kashmir today demanded that  Election Commission of India    may  grant ‘Postal Voting Rights’  to nomadic / semi-nomadic tribes  if election  of JK state Assembly was going to held after  15th of April or before  15th October. They elaborated that  a large chunk of their population will be under  seasonal migration during this periods.They urged that commission should take cognizens  of the matter  while announcing the election in the state.

In a meeting of  members of tribal groups  under the banner of Tribal Research and Cultural  Foundation – a frontal organisation today demanded that either the dates of state Assembly  election may be fixed before 15th April or after 15th of October or grant  special  voting  rights / postal voting  rights to nomadic/ tribal communities of Jammu and Kashmir.

“As per centuries old practise the Gujjars/ Bakerwals along with minor tribal groups like Gaddis/ Sippis/ Changpa migrats  and stay in upper reaches of north-western Himalayas  during  15th April to 15th October, every year said noted Gujjar Scholar”  Dr. Javaid Rahi.

While commenting regarding migratory way of life stated that Gujjars/ Bakerwals , Dr. Rahi said the tribes constitute around 20 lakh people  which  figures  around 20% population of the state and a larger chunk of them are still migratory. Under  the traditional bi-annual sessional migration they move   towards upper reaches of Himalaya in mid April along with their animals included sheep, goats, horses, buffalos , cows, camels and Dogs and live in upper  areas of Shivalik and Peerpanchal and Zojila mountains ranges .They start their back journey to down areas in first week of September, he said.

It takes  around 45 days for each  Tribal family reach back to their destination  with their animals  he added. The members of nomadic community further demanded that before announcing the election the Election Commission (EC) may  notify migratory / nomadic tribes  of Jammu and Kashmir to be eligible for Postal Voting in the state on the prototype of Kashmiri Pandit Voters.

The member of Gujjar Community  further demanded that the Election Commission of India must  consider our demand on merit as if they denied the right they will move to Court of law  to get their rights. Those who attended the meeting includes Ch Ishtiaq Ahmad Misbah, Shafeeq Choudhary, Bilal Rashid Choudhary, Mudassar Choudhary, Ishfaq Shahzaib, Shahid Ayoob, Abaid ur-Rehman and others

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