‘They stop us from using forest land’: Gujjars accuse assault by right-wing mob in Ramban

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Gujjars in the Chanderkote area of Ramban district have alleged that they were beaten up by groups of right-wing Hindu pastoralists for rearing cattle in the forest land. They also accused police of registering case(s) against them only rather than booking the “attackers”.

Jinab Mirza, who along with other Gujjars rears cattle in Ladda Dhar Kriya area of Chanderkote, said, “Hindu residents often threaten us and do not allow us to rear cattle in the forest land”.

“We have been rearing cattle here for decades. Now they (Hindu residents) threaten us,” Mirza told The Kashmir Walla.

The Chanderkote police station has registered a First Information Report (FIR) against Gujjar Muslims after the complaint from Hindus that “nearly 100 people belonging to the Gujjar community attacked our cattle and our people with lathis and severely injured 12 persons who were grazing the cattle.” 

However, the Gujjars deny the charge. “The number of Muslim pastoralists in the region is less in comparison to the non-Muslim population due to which they overpower us and do not let us live at peace,” Mirza said while accusing the police of taking sides.

“One such clash erupted at Kriya area where nearly a dozen men and women from both communities sustained injuries,” he said. “However, police registered case(s) against Muslims only.”

When contacted, the Senior Superintendent of Police, Ramban, Nitya Durga Potluri said, “Anyone, who wants FIR to be registered should come up with a complaint. We will look into it.”

Mirza however said they approached the police for registration of FIR “but they did not file the case”.

He said nearly 8 to 10 FIRs have been registered against each Gujjar of the area since 2019 as the clashes between the two communities are a routine.

Police said that two accused (of the Gujjar community) have been arrested for “rioting at Ladda Dhar Ramban”.

Gujjars said they are nomads and entirely rely on the forest land. “We live in Ramban for just six months during summer as we do not have our own land while the other community has ancestral land and property and also uses forest land for the rearing of cattle,” said Mirza. “Still we are not allowed to use the forest land and are threatened by the people who come in hundreds from different areas.”

Speaking to The Kashmir Walla, the Deputy Commissioner, Ramban, Mussarat Islam, denied the allegations of FIR being registered against a particular community and said the matter was under investigation.

He said a meeting has already been held in which one of the agreements (regarding the matter) has been signed. “A spot meeting of the representatives of both communities is also underway,” he said on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Jammu, Mukesh Singh, tweeted on Friday afternoon that both the DC and SSP have visited the spot where clashes take place.

“There is a police picket established there to ensure that no law and order problem takes place,” he said.

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