FIR Over ‘Anti-National’ Slogans During Gujjar Bakerwal Rally In Jammu And Kashmir’s Poonch

Jammu and Kashmir Police has registered a FIR against unidentified people for allegedly raising ‘anti-national’ slogans during a rally in Poonch.

Jammu and Kashmir Police.(File-Representational image)

Jammu and Kashmir Police on Wednesday registered a FIR against several people in Poonch district for allegedly raising “anti-national” slogans during a rally.

The slogans were incidentally raised at a rally by Gujjars and Bakerwals, held on Tuesday in the border district against a bill introduced in the Parliament last week for the grant of Scheduled Tribe status to the Pahari community, reported PTI.

"An FIR under section 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) of Indian Penal Code was registered at police station Poonch for raising anti-national slogans during the rally," the report quoted a police officer as having said.

In Jammu and Kashmir, the protests by Gujjars and Bakerwals gained momentum after the introduction of the bill that proposed including the Pahari ethnic group, Gadda Brahmin, Koli and Paddari in the list of Scheduled Tribes by amending the constitution (Jammu and Kashmir Scheduled Tribes order, 1989).

A video of the protest rally, purportedly showing some participants raising "pro-freedom" slogans, was circulated on social media, it mentioned. 

The report quoting a senior police officer said "We are analysing the video through forensic experts as to whether it is real or fake and legal action shall follow accordingly … So far, we could see tricolours raised high throughout the protest demonstration."

Earlier, six prominent Gujjar leaders requested the centre to hold "participative decisions on sensitive issues" that have the potential of disturbing intercommunity relations in the Union Territory.

The joint statement on Monday was issued by former ministers Mian Altaf Ahmad Larvi (National Conference), Chowdhary Zulfikar Ali, Aijaz Ahmad Khan and former legislator Choudhary Qamar Hussain (Apni party), former deputy chairman J&K Legislative Assembly Choudhary Javed Ahmad Rana (NC), and former MLA Choudhary Mohammad Akram Lassanvi who resigned from Congress last year.

"The widespread protests by the Gujjar-Bakerwal tribe and unrest in the community across the Union Territory of J&K are grave developments. Protests by the Gujjar-Bakerwal tribe against the Union government and UT administration is an aberration and we are deeply concerned and utterly bewildered by the prevailing situation," they had said.

The J&K unit of BJP called the statement "ridiculous, untimely and misleading" and asked the protesters what they had been objecting to when the government had already made it clear that it was not reducing the 10 per cent quota of scheduled tribes in any way.

The BJP statement from Gujjar leaders affiliated with the party said the government is taking concrete steps for the improvement and welfare of all deserving backward areas and classes.

"Now that the panchayat, local body and parliamentary elections are coming, the people fully understand the fact that the narrative of the incomprehensible thing you are making is only of a political nature and not of public interest," the BJP statement said.