Feature: Tribal people and their agonies

(Greater Kashmir)

Manzor Ahmad Malik

Tribal people or Social Tribes are categorized as a community of indigenous people by the Constitution. They are also considered socially and economically disadvantaged.

It is not like we think about nomads that they carry flocks of sheep to different pastures for grazing and enjoying their lives. The life of nomads and tribal people is incredibly difficult and arduous. Mostly they possess worn out tents that cannot even prevent downpours. They are characterized by being geographically isolated and relatively cut off from mainstream culture, hence exhibit backwardness in terms of socio-economic and educational parameters. They live a very tough life. There is no enjoyment or recreation in their lives. Food grains and other eatables are deficient as a result their children suffer from malnutrition. Recently, J& K administration deputed teachers to various pastures, meadows, and over the hills to survey tribal people who either move from place to place or leave their permanent residential places to rear sheep, goat, buffaloes, cows, and other animals in meadows. In this survey, many heart-wrenching issues came to sight.

These people are still living their lives in primitive ways. This is the sense which was discerned perfectly while carrying out this job. Consequently, this class of people is still devoid of basic facilities of life. As they don’t have even a patch of fertile land to cultivate where they would prefer to settle permanently. So they wander from place to place to feed the flocks and herds of animals like sheep, goat, horses, and buffaloes.

They have to move from hill to hill to graze their livestock. The weather conditions in these places are not always favorable for them as a result they suffer loss of livestock. Their homes are made of torn polythene sheets, and patched clothes, that too suffices only a few persons. Rest of them, particularly young persons, spend nights under the sky. Old people can not walk due to sickness, so they become a burden and are to carried on horses. The livestock is always kept in the open where they become easy target of wild animals.

Their life is miserable. Government should provide them waterproof tents and solar lights. That can significantly change their lives.

So far as the columns of the survey format are concerned, following facilities were taken into consideration:

1) Ration: Every tribal family responded that they don’t get ration on subsidized rates from a govt ration depot. They have been allotted APL cards which is sheer injustice. Moreover, ration depots don’t give them ration under the pretext of nonresidents of the said village or town. In this connection, the administration should direct ration depots to provide them ration under a special quota or scheme.

2) Mobile school: It was also recorded that not only the elders but also the children of nomads or tribal people are illiterate and out of school. They don’t have any exposure to education. Their children are deprived of the fundamental right of education. Education is the only vehicle that can uplift their younger generation & drive this class of people from rough hills to plains & hence enable them to settle there. But it is disgusting that there is no provision of mobile schools in Behaks. More and more attention is needed to remove the obstacles in the way of educating their children. Education can liberate them from the chains of poverty.

3) Availability of drinking water: Most of the places these tribals visit are dry and steep, consequently, water supply is too scarce to fulfill the necessity of the household as well as their livestock. Women have to climb down to get water from springs or streams to cook food and spare some for drinking. It takes them hours to fetch water. This deficiency makes them untidy and sick. The provision of water tanks for storage may overcome this difficulty to some extent.

4) Livestock: Most of the tribal families rear a good number of sheep and goat so to feed them they need to visit big pastures and meadows. Healthcare is also a big problems for them. These sheep and goat require frequent vaccination and medication to ensure proper health. The lack of mobile health teams at various meadows and pastures is also a big issue. Mobile health teams should be made available at big pastures and meadows.

Besides these issues, lack of roads to meadows and pastures affect their lives badly. Many times they confront accidents or attacks of wild animals, but due to lack of road and transport facilities, they are unable to reach hospitals, and thus face untimely hhvbeaths.

Pregnant women too are unaware of various health-related benefits and schemes. They don’t know about various initiatives of the government taken for their welfare and betterment.

Solar lanterns and other gadgets running on solar energy should be distributed among them.

Awareness camps should be organized by various agencies to boost their knowledge about the welfare measures and ways endured by the government.

In short, tribal people live a very miserable life. They don’t relish the basic facilities like nutritious food, comfortable accommodation, pure and easily available water, education, healthcare, roads, and bridges, etc It is, therefore, the duty of the administration to launch Parallel Basic Facilities for Tribals (PBFT) in pastures, and meadows, to make their nomadic life free from afflictions. Every department like Health, PDD, Animal Husbandry, Social Welfare, Food Supplies, etc., should open their seasonal centers for six months in the key transit points. Tribal culture should be preserved and introduced among tourists visiting such dhokas or pastures.

Manzoor Ahmad Malik is from Qusba Khull, Kulgam

Courtesy Greater Kashmir

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