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Jammu and Kashmir Gujjars, Bakerwals advance seasonal migration by a month

Shujaat Bukhari

For the first time in 29 years, due to an unusual rise in temperature


Besides the heat during migration, they will also face acute fodder shortage in upper areas

The main tribal migration routes were badly damaged due to heavy snowfall last winter


SRINAGAR: Gujjars and Bakerwals have begun their bi-annual seasonal migration to the upper reaches of Shivalik, Perpanchal and Trikuta Hills of the Himalayas a month ahead of the routine schedule due to unusual rise in the daily temperature in the northern States, including Jammu and Kashmir.

It is after 29 years that these tribes have advanced their seasonal migration. A dry March has caused the maximum temperature to rise above the normal levels by 8 to 12 degrees.

A handout by the Tribal Research And Cultural Foundation, an organisation working for the Gujjars, said under normal circumstances, the tribes start their seasonal migration around or after April third week every year.

Secretary of the foundation Javaid Rahi said this advancement will badly affect their economy and social setup. They would not only bear the brunt of the heat during migration, but also face acute shortage of fodder in the upper areas.

Logistical support

The foundation has impressed upon various organisations working for tribals in the State to mobilise resources for providing necessary logistics to the tribes.

Mr. Rahi said the main migration routes, including Jamiya Gali, Gora Batta, Nanansar, Ropadi Dharhal Pass and others, were badly damaged due to heavy snowfall last winter and were in need of urgent repairs.

The foundation had appealed to the relevant agencies to undertake early repairs to these traditional routes.

Sizeable population

The Gujjars constituted more than 20 per cent population of the State and a sizeable population of the tribe, along with their livestock, undertake migration.

According to an oral history of the Gujjars, they faced a similar situation in 1979 and undertook early migration, Mr. Rahi said.

A Meteorological official said: “We have been seeing clear days because of which the days are quite warm. A western disturbance is affecting Jammu and Kashmir at present and its immediate consequence is an increase in temperature. We have not forecast rain or another relief as of now.”

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