The brutal rape and killing of a minor girl have rocked the nation. What is even more shocking is the subsequent development that took place after the accused was arrested and an 18-page charge sheet was filed in connection with the case. The 18-page charge sheet revealed shocking motives of the perpetrators behind committing such heinous crime. One of the prime reasons was to ‘dislodge’ the Bakarwal Muslim community to which the victim belonged. Now Supreme Court has taken suo motu cognisance of lawyers obstructing the victim’s counsel appearing in the case in Jammu and Kashmir. The top court had asked bar associations in Jammu, Kathua not to obstruct judicial proceedings in the case. As the case has evoked sharp reactions from across the country and left Jammu on tenterhooks, let’s take look at details about the Bakarwal Muslim community.
Who are Bakarwals
Bakarwals are a nomadic Muslim community. According to reports, Bakarwal is a backward community which along with Gujjars form 80 per cent of the Scheduled Tribe population of Jammu and Kashmir. Bakarwals started settling down in Batti Barigarh after 1975. The then chief minister Sheikh Abdullah had granted them rights to reside in forest areas. Subsequently, land next to the forest areas was bought by Bakarwals, according to The Indian Express report.
The central government in 1991 had given Scheduled Tribe status to Bakarwals and gave them reservation in both state and central government jobs. Along with Gujjars, Bakarwals enjoy 10 per cent reservation in jobs and promotions in the state government, and 7 per cent in Central government departments.
Acts of bravery during India-Pakistan wars
One of the Bakarwals Moulvi Ghulam Din was bestowed with prestigious Ashok Chakra for the courageous role in ensuring that villagers did back Indian Army not the Pakistani guerrillas in the Sawjian sector during the 1965 war. Again after 1971 war a nomad woman Mali Bi was lauded and awarded for her tip-offs on Pakistani guerrillas in the Poonch area. Prior to the 1999 Kargil War, members of the Bakarwal community had informed Army about Pakistani infiltration.