In view of national lockdown to avert the spread of deadly novel Coronavirus (Covid-19)- the nomadic Gujjar Bakerwal in J&K tribes were asked to suspend their bi-annual seasonal migration for time being, to upper reaches and follow govt advisory strictly.
In an appeal made by Dr. Javaid Rahi -a noted tribal researcher and founder of Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation advising tribal population to follow social distancing and avoid all type of religiose, cultural and social congregations and rituals.
He appealed the tribal population to delay their sessional migration at least up to 14th of April -in view of lockdown imposed by the govt. and stay home, for their safety and security.
As per tradition surviving for centuries they start summer seasonal tribal migration in the first week of April every year to reach their destinations within a span of 40 to 45 days of travel.
Meanwhile , a letter in this regard was sent to Lieutenant Governor of the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir Girish Chandra Murmu requesting therein to direct the concerned agencies to formulate a comprehensive plan in consultation with the local tribal elders to address tribal migration issues.
The letter reads that the temperature is on rise in the plains of the Jammu region and the nomadic Gujjar, Bakerwal, Gaddi and Sippi tribes, as per their tradition, are set to start their seasonal migration with their herds of buffaloes, cows, horses, goats, sheep others towards the upper reaches of the Shivalik, Pirpanjal and Trikuta mountains in greater Himalayas. Some of them have to migrate within their native districts, some have to move inter-district and a majority of them have to cross over to Kashmir and Ladakh to spend 5 months in pastures, Dhoks and Behaks.
The letter reveals that for inter-province migration, tribes adopt migration routes, including the Jamiya Gali, Gora Batta, Nanansar, Ropadi Dharhal Pass, Banhal pass and Mughal Road. For migration towards Himachal Pradesh, they use Kukdi Top, Doda , and other routes.
The letter further reads that if tribal migration does not start on time, there are apprehensions that hundred of thousands of sheep, goats and other animals will die as they cannot bear the hot weather. Some will die due to a shortage of fodder.
The tribal communities constitute around 15 to 20 percent of the total population of Jammu & Kashmir Union Territory. Among them a large chunk of Gujjar, Bakarwal, Gaddi and Sippi who are pastoralists/ nomads seasonally migrate to lower, middle and higher mountain ranges in the north-western Himalayan mountains bi-annually with animals.