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NC welcomes ST status to Paharis: Omar

Asks government to take Gujjars into confidence to explain how their quota be protected
12:59 AM Feb 08, 2024 IST | SHUCHISMITA
nc welcomes st status to paharis  omar
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Jammu, Feb 7: National Conference vice president and the former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Wednesday welcomed grant of Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to Pahari community yet reiterated that his party only wanted the government to “take Gujjars into confidence to explain as to how it planned to protect their quota to address their genuine concerns.”

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Alleging that he was not permitted to proceed to Sunderbani in Rajouri district to address a meeting of party workers there, Omar sought to link ‘such curbs to ensuing polls.’

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With regard to grant of ST status to the Pahari community, the former Chief Minister said that NC always supported the community’s demand (for ST status) while safeguarding Gujjars’ interests and his government had even approved the Pahari Reservation Bill.

“Our efforts to grant them (Paharis) reservation could not meet their logical end due to loss in election. Even when Dr Farooq Abdullah was the Chief Minister, he had made recommendations for them when Gujjars were granted ST status. Our only concern is about the protection of Gujjars’ rights. The government has not spelt out even in the Bill as to how it will ensure that Gujjar-Bakerwals’ quota remains unaffected while granting ST status to Pahari community. Even our MP Justice (retired) Hasnain Masoodi, while participating in the debate, had raised this genuine issue,” Omar said, while speaking to media persons here.

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With regard to sharing of seats within I.N.D.I.Alliance, he asserted that three seats (Kashmir seats) were already with it (Alliance) so talks would be held on the rest of three LS seats, which were with BJP.

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“Discussions would be held with Congress in the days to come to sort out this issue,” he said.

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In response to queries about simultaneous assembly and LS polls, former Chief Minister mocked the BJP saying that notwithstanding its haughty claims about a changed scenario, it could not muster courage to hold assembly polls as it was staring at defeat.

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