After getting historic ST status, it’s time to pay back BJP in coming elections, says pahari leaders; Ravinder Raina played big role behind the curtains
POONCH TODAY NEWS
POONCH/RAJOURI: Despite fully knowing that a large chunk of pahari and gujjar voters never voted for the BJP in the 2014 and 2019 parliamentary elections, the top BJP leadership, including PM Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, played the role of a big brother by showing a big heart by granting much awaited ST status to the pahari ethnic group in addition to fulfilling promises made to gujjars that their share would remain intact.
Earlier, Congress and Kashmir-centric political parties, which enjoyed power at the centre and in the erstwhile state of J&K, befooled paharis for decades by denying their due rights. Paharis have been fighting for this right for the last five decades, and now the BJP government has given them their much-needed and much-deserved right to ST status. J&K UT president Ravinder Raina reportedly played a big role behind the scenes to give justice to the pahari ethnic group. Raina was also instrumental in playing a role in giving justice to the Gujjar community as the Union and UT governments introduced many schemes for the welfare of the Gujjars. Now the debates on different platforms have started about how much of a percentage of paharis will vote for the BJP in the coming parliamentary and assembly elections because it would be a test of credibility for every pahari and gujjar voter. A prominent pahari leader of Poonch, Lokesh Sharma, who fought for this cause for the last four decades, while talking to “POONCH TODAY”, said, “We are thankful to PM Modi ji and Amit Shah ji for fulfilling our decades-old demand of ST status. I appeal to every single pahari that there is no option left for breach of trust and all should come out wholeheartedly and vote for BJP in the coming elections at national and UT level.” Former President Municipal Council Poonch, Advocate Rajinder Singh, said, “It’s a historic day for us, and we are thankful to the NDA government being led by PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. This decision to grant ST status to paharis has restored the dignity of a whole pahari civilization. I am so happy that I am finding no words to thank the Union government.” Advocate Mohd. Zaman said, “It’s a big moment of my life as I remained active in this four-decade-long struggle for this genuine cause, and ultimately, we got it. Our sincere thanks to PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.” President of the People Forum, Advocate Sanjay Raina, while expressing his views with “POONCH TODAY”, said, “The government under the leadership of PM Modi and Amit Shah ji has given the biggest gift of all times to pahari people, and now, it’s the turn of paharis to stand strongly with the BJP. My sincere thanks to PM Modi Ji, Home Minister Amit Shah Ji, Ravinder Raina Ji, and all the pahari leaders who fought for this genuine issue for so many years.” Surprisingly, after getting ST status, a few pahari people were seen saying, “Chalo, ek baar vote dee denge,” and such questionable statements show that some people still have an unappreciated attitude toward the government. Although the notification is still pending, up to the time of filing this report, the granting of ST status to paharis, in addition to fulfilling the promise made to gujjars, the BJP has tried to please both communities in the Poonch-Rajouri belt, which has remained a strong pocket of anti-BJP parties for years. The Congress, National Conference, and PDP always beefooled the pahari people for decades, and now this decision of the BJP is all set to give them nightmares in the Poonch-Rajouri region for their silent act of backstabbing paharis, feel political observers. They feel that the BJP has ended political hostilities between the two tribes by giving justice to all. Now, after this massive development, the BJP leadership is hopeful that the saffron party will be able to win the Rajouri-Anantnag parliamentary seat and later the maximum number of seats in the upcoming assembly elections. Earlier, after the announcement, paharis celebrated at various places in Poonch and Rajouri by beating drums and raising slogans in favour of the government. A few people were also seen with tears of happiness in their eyes as they expressed their thanks to the government for fulfilling their decades-old demand. It is pertinent to mention here that pahari leaders who were fighting this battle for the last fifty years remained silent instead of taking any credit openly because they feel that this development is for the entire pahari tribe, so they are extremely happy and don’t want to participate in the credit game, unlike some young pahari activists who think that it was because of them that such a big decision was taken in favour of the pahari ethnic group. But highly placed sources of “POONCH TODAY” in the corridors of power, pleading anonymity, said that the RSS think tank and some other agencies of the home ministry, after evaluating every aspect, played a big role behind the curtains in advising the union government to grant ST status to the pahari ethnic tribe. Not only vote-bank politics, but various security issues of national and international importance were considered before arriving at the decision to grant ST status to the pahari ethnic group by the government. Meanwhile, on the ground, pahari people were seen celebrating the day in a majestic way at various places and thanked the union government for creating history in favour of pahari people. All the prominent pahari leaders, like Ravinder Raina, Mushtaq Bhukhari, Vibodh Gupta, Mohd. Iqbal Malik, Jahangir Mir, Pardeep Sharma, Sohail Malik, and others, were seen congratulating the pahari people on this historic decision in favour of the pahari ethnic tribe.