Two prominent leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the National Conference have expressed their desire to join the BJP on condition that the central government grants Schedule Tribe status to their Pahari community. PDP district president Rajouri Tazeem Dar and senior NC leader Shafqat Mir gave the assurance to Union Home Minister Amit Shah during a meeting here on Monday night, sources said.
The two leaders were part of a Pahari community delegation which called on the home minister shortly after his arrival on a three-day tour of Jammu and Kashmir. Representatives of several other communities including Gujjars and Bakerwals, Sikhs, Dogra society, Yuva Rajput Sabha and Amar Kshatriya Rajput Sabha also met Shah, a former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president.
While the Pahari community is seeking a scheduled tribe status and enjoying the backing of local BJP leaders, Gujjars and Bakerwals have openly opposed any such favour to the community on the plea that they did not fit the criteria necessary for the grant of the status in accordance with the constitution.
The Gujjar and Bakerwal delegations appealed to the home minister to allay their apprehensions that ST Status of the Gujjars, Bakerwals, Gadis and Sippis shall not be diluted by including any other section of people in the category of Scheduled Tribe in the Union Territory.