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Table of Contents
Dard Tribe in Jammu and Kashmir
Cultural Profile of Dard Tribe
Dard Tribe of Gurez:
Socio-Economic Problems of Dard Tribe of Gurez
Basic level Amenities:
Exclusion of Dard tribe of Gurez:
Partition and identity Erosion of Dard tribe of Gurez
Conclusion and Discussion:
Gurez a high-altitude valley in North Kashmir’s Bandipora District is home to 25,000 Dards, who are part of a wider group of Dardic-Shina speaking people spread across the Northern areas of Pakistan and Ladakh as well as parts of Afghanistan. Dard Shin or Dard tribe once had their homeland spread across the valleys, tucked inside the great Himalayas at the edge of north Kashmir from Chitral and Yasin, across the Indus regions of Gilgit, Chilas and Bunji to Gurez valley. Gurez valley is an isolated because of harsh weather area witness during winter season and its location between Indo-Pak Border. The valley is hotspot witnessing frequent shelling, that erupts between the two South Asian neighbors has not only made this beautiful valley largely inaccessible to people from wider society, but also to the Dard Shin villagers who have had to flee their homes on the many occasions when hostilities between India and Pakistan amply. The tribal identity of Dards across Gurez was caught in the pandemonium following the emergence of India and Pakistan as Nation states in 1947. People are trapped in the vicious circle of various sensitive factors such as inaccessibility, marginality of resources, fragility, poor carrying capacity, vulnerability of non-farm employment, un-explored niches, out-migration and erosion of Dard tribe due to displacement etc. The Dard-Shins are believed to be the descendants of the early Aryan settlers who arrived more than two thousand years ago. References to them can be traced back to the writings of Herodotus. The onslaught of modernization and the partition that divided the Dard Shin homeland by a hostile Line of Control between India and Pakistan, Once the gateway to Central Asia, Gurez Valley inhabited by Dard-shin speaking people in a forgotten corner of Kashmir is still home to the Dard people. This tribe squeezed to the remote and hidden Gurez valley in north Kashmir struggling to save their vanishing Shina language, their culture, traditions and a distinct identity. The paper therefore aims to highlight the repercussion of aftermath partition and identity erosion of Dard tribe of Gurez valley Kashmir
Dard-Shina Tribe, Kashmir, Partition, LOC, Identity, India , Pakistan
Jammu and Kashmir, a border state of India is inhabited by a number of tribal communities who have settled down in all parts of this Himalayan state. For many years, Jammu and Kashmir had no Scheduled Tribe (ST) population. It was only in 1989 that eight communities vide the Constitution (Jammu & Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order, 1989 and four communities, namely Gujjar, Bakkarwal, Gaddi and Sippi were notified as the Scheduled Tribes vide the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Act, 1991. These twelve hill tribes of Jammu and Kashmir which were granted ST status are Balti, Beda, Bot (Boto), Brokpa (Drokpa, Dardh, Shin), Changpa, Garra, Mon, Purigpa, Gujjar, Bakkarwal, Gaddi and Sippis. All the twelve Scheduled Tribes (STs) were enumerated officially for the first time during the 2001 census recording a population of 1,105,979. The Scheduled Tribes account for 11.9 per cent of the total population of the State as per Census 2011. The total population of the state, as per Census 2011, is 1,25,41302 including male population of 66,40662 and female population of 59,00640. The Census 2011 shows the entire ST population of the state at 14, 93, 299 in comparison to 11,0,5979 of Census 2001. Thus, there is an increase of 3,87,320 in schedule tribe population of the state.
Kashmir within its confines contains a vast and extremely rich geographical and cultural diversity forming the enduring legacy of Kashmir. The Anthropological Survey of India has studied one hundred and eleven (111) ethnic communities/groups in Jammu and Kashmir under its People of India project (Fazili, 2002:431-436). The major ethnic groups in Jammu and Kashmir are Bakarwals, Balti, Brokpa, Chibalis, Dogras, Gujjars and Hanjis. Moreover, there are numerous small ethnic groups like Argon, Afghan, etc. which have significant concentration in isolated pockets of the State (Lidoo, 1987:53). The valley has been described as a melting point of different races and cultures. This rich heritage with its ethnic, geographical and linguistic diversity is represented both in the valley proper as well as in the higher surrounding mountain reaches of the Himalayas and Karakorum. Largely, the physical characteristics of the area have determined and channelled rather than blocked human movement, which has resulted in maintaining a persistent contact between people speaking different languages. Hence we see that from time immemorial various tribes, clans have been accepted within the general, overall socio-political fabric of the area, even while retaining their own uniqueness (Grierson,1999:934-935). Aside from the principle race of the Kashir‟s (or Kashmir‟s as they are referred to) the land is also home to the mountain community of Paharis, the semi-nomadic Gujjars, the nomadic, pastoral community of Bakarwals and the Dardh. Jammu and Kashmir has a large proportion of tribal population (20 per cent). The scheduled tribes in the Jammu and Kashmir state too suffer in all fields of life. They face inequality and discrimination. The peculiar feature of tribal of our state is their scattered population who inhibit the difficult and remote geographical terrains, which is the hurdle of their speedy socio- economic development. They remain at the bottom of the social order. While majority, live in below poverty line. Both central and state governments, irrespective of ideological differences, have launched several developmental programmes for the welfare and empowerment of the weaker section of society including STs. In J&K, these comprise schemes for educational development, economic development and social development.
Dard Tribe in Jammu and Kashmir
As per the census of 2011, total population of Dard in Jammu and Kashmir is 2 lakhs thirty four thousand and ninety three (census 2011). Dard is a group of people predominantly found in eastern Afghanistan, in the northern areas and North West frontier province of Pakistan and in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is said that Dard are the linguistic descendants of bearers of proto Rig Vedic culture, tracing the feature in certain Dardhic dialects that continuous peculiarities of Rig Vedic Sanskrit (Bray,1986:154-55).The word „Dardh‟ has a long history and the people who bearing the name are very ancient tribe, who are spoken of in the Sanskrit literature as Darada. Kalhan in his book history of Kashmir entitled the Raj-Tarangini, refer to them (Dardh) under the name of Darads or Darads, and mention them as inhabiting the country where we now find the shin who are present day are still called Dardhs (Nagendra,1997:17). W.G Leitner agreed in the name of Dardh to the Shina speaking tribes of Gilgit, Chilas and Astor areas down the Indus from Ladakh; beyond Baltistan. The Chak dynasty last ruled Kashmir before its conquest by the Mughals. Dardh is an Aryan race inhabiting in different areas of the state, in spite of interaction with other ethnic group, they have been able to retain their cultural identity (Usha, 2001: 253). The Himalaya is the original home of many ancient tribes, like other tribes Dardh migrated to inner and outer Himalaya from various entrance points beginning from pre-history to early Christian era. In the early period, they came to western Himalaya and settled down along the fertile Indus valley (Doughty, 2008: 254- 55). Thereafter some of them migrated to Ladakh region from Gilgit. Dardhistan was a country of Dardhs comprising the whole of Chitral, Gilgit, Hunza, Nagar, Punyal, Yasin, Koh, Gazar, Ashkoman, Chilas, Astor, Iskardu, Gurais and Kargil, Including the Indus Valley from Bunji to Batera, the Kohistan-Malazai, i.e. the upper reaches of the Panjkora River, and the Kohistan of Swat. Herodotus has mentioned about Dardhs. In fact their major area of concentrations or their homeland is in Dardhistan now in Pak occupied Kashmir (Fida, 2002:53-54). To the Greek and Roman writers, the word had a wider signification and includes not only the predecessors of shin/Dardh. They include the whole mountaineer‟s tract between the Hindukush and the frontiers of India (Bamzai, 1980:2-9). In the words of Litener, Dardhs belong to arayan stock, while ray also endorses this statement by saying that the Dardhic Aryans parted from the Arayan mass just after their entrance into India. Dardhic Aryans than colonized Pamir region from where they spread to Chitral to Gilgit (Margret, 2008: 120). Ptolemy in his writing „Almagast‟ has used the word Daradari for Dardhs and thus they have long history of occupance of the Kashmir valley. At present they are concentrated in Dardhistan (Dardhesa), especially in the catchment areas of Kishanganga north of Sardi, Gurez and Tilel (Bellew, 2003:120).
Cultural Profile of Dard Tribe
The existence of the Dards as a separate race, as well as something of their language, have for good many years been facts within the reach of readers of travels; but the information made know about them has till lately been extremely meager (Sharma,2003:1-3). Dr Litener visited Dardhistan in 1866, and having supplemented his inquiries of that time by investigations into Dardh dialectic and customs made through men of the race whom he gathered round him at Lahore. Dardhistan was one of the frontier district of Kashmir with capital of Gilgit on the north of Kashmir. Most of its Area is presently under the direct control of Pakistan under the name of Northern areas Dardh people, who speak different dialects of Shina language, inhabit Dardhistan (Bazaz, 2002:236). Shina is spoken over a vast area of 12,352 square miles. Dardhistan starts from Tragbal Bandipora and its boundaries extend beyond Pamir Badakhshan, on other side its boundaries are up to Dras Kargil. On west its boundaries extend up to Peshawar via the Valley of Kagan (Rizvi,1993:12). Famous silk route traverses through the whole of Dardhistan, Gurez Valley also falls along the same. Presently only Gurez, Tilal Chanderkote and Drass areas are in J& K State and all the other areas are either in the direct control of Pakistan or under Chinese occupation (Arbuthnot, 1992:29). The Pakistan occupied parts of Dardhistan are called “Northern Areas”. According to the local Dardh historians, a band of seven brothers migrated from Dardhistan, probably either from Dasu or from Chilas. These Aryan brothers marched towards Deosai Plateau and reached Karkit. By finding their suitable pastures and water resources, they decided to settle there. This happened probably in the seventh or eighth century. Today their descendants are found here in the thousands (Kaw, 2004: 54). They had kept their Shina language and culture alive.
These seven earlier Dardh people were Cholok, Lacho, Suko, Sangyun, Khori, Sacho and Prato. Their forefather’s name was Ra Thatha Khan, and their father was Suri Pueinlo. So for even today they are called Suri Puinlay (Keenan, 1989:146). Chilasis are a Dardh tribe inhabiting a long valley on the west of Nanga Parbat. They are notorious for their ferocity and until 1850 used to come round the flank of the mountainous Astore valley to plunder and kill. The whole region of Dardhistan is barren and except for small patches of vegetation near mountain torrents, little can be produced elsewhere. Wheat, barley and grim are grown and form the stable food of people. It was always a deficit area in food and the Kashmir government has to send huge quantities of grain to feed the population there (Das,2013:115-116)). Living as they do in a cold region, there dress is a woolen coat with a choga or long coat thrown over the shoulders (Sarfaraz, 2012:5-6) In physical appearance, the Dardhs are broad shouldered, moderately stout –built and have well-proportioned bodies. In face they are not handsome, their hairs are usually black but sometime brown; in complexion they are moderately fair. Their eyes are either brown or hazel (Dutt, 2014:55). Etymologically Dardh is of the indo Aryan race. It is said that they are survivors of Alexander troops who after their generalissimo departure scattered over Indus valley lying between Kulu and Dardhistan. After Muslim invasion in the 19th century, Dardhs who were settled in Drass and its adjoining areas embraced Islam. More the Dardhs of Da Hanu, Darchik and Garkon neither accepted Islam nor Buddhism. It is said that Dardhs initially migrated from Gilgit and scattered along the banks of Indus River in lower Ladakh whether we judge from language or from physiognomy, the conclusion is inevitable that Dardhs are an Aryan race. (Jina, 1994:13)
To the north of the valley is the region called „Dardhistan‟ inhabited by broad-shouldered, moderately stout-built, well- proportioned men. They are active and enduring. They are good as mountaineers, and those who have been used to act as porters are strong and quick in the work; but in some parts they have never been trained to coolis‟ work, and will not undergo it .in face they can in general hardly be called handsome, but still they have rather a good caste of countenance; their hair is usually black. Sometimes; in complexion they are moderately fair, the shade is sometimes, but not always, light enough for the red to show through it. Their eyes are either brown or hazel; they are known for their fero-city (Pushp, Warikoo, 1996:37- 40). In the social hierarchy they are divisible into: I) Rennu (Rulling class) ii) Shins (religious sect) iii) Yashkun (cultivators) and IV) Dum (menial class) those who have learned Punjabi have a particularly hard way of speaking those languages (Bamzai, 1994:14). The disposition and bearing of the Dardhs is independent and bold; they will not endure to be put upon, but stand out for their rights, and stand up against oppression as long as possible. They are By no means soft hearted; but they are not disobliging when taken in the right way. For intellect; it seems that they are, as a race, decidedly cleaver; if not so ingenious as Kashmiri, yet they are both clear-headed and quick. Such qualities as these make them a people that one must sympathize with. A people who are bold and though not caring much for human life, are not blood thirsty; a people who will meet one on even terms, without sycophancy or fear on the one hand or impertinent self-assertion on the other; such are not so often met with in east but what one welcomes and values them (Lawrence, 1992:342:45).
The dress of the Dardhs is wollen, except among the higher people, who wear cotton clothes for the summer if they can get them; the dress consists of pajama‟s, choga (or gown-coat), a waistband to confine this, and lastly, a cap and chaussure, both of peculiar constriction. The cap is a bag of wollen cloth half a yard long. Which is rolled up upwards at the edges until it gets to the size of fit comfortably to the head, round which the roll makes a protection from cold or from sun nearly as good as a turban. for their feet they strip and scraps of leather put under and over and round the foot, and a long thin strip wound round and round to keep all these in place. The head-dress is thoroughly characteristic of the Dardhs; wherever they are scattered, and with whomsoever they are mixed up-with the exception of the Buddhist Dardh tribe (Bazaz, 2013:138-139). According to Gazetteer of Kashmir and Ladakh (1974), Brokpa is a name given by the Balti to the Dardh communities dwelling among them in the country south-east of Harmosh. They are concentrated mainly in Kargil and Bandipora, on the north border with Pak occupied Kashmir. The tribe is also known as Dardh, Shin, Brokpa, and Drukpa. Dardhs are mainly Muslims follow the Sunni sect of Islam, but in Kargil district they constitute a minority as Purki and Balti living. They follow the Shia sect. However there is a small isolated group of Dardh who continue to remain in Buddhist by faith. These Buddhist Dardhs found in only some villages in Kargil district along border areas. These villages are Gurkon, Darchik, and Da Hanu. They are considered the purest of the Aryans in the world (Kaul, 2003:18).
Dard Tribe of Gurez:
The Dardh Shina community lives in Kargil (Ladakh) and Gurez. They are the oldest inhabitants of Gurez. It is ancient community that once had the major presence in the areas between (and including) north eastern Afghanistan and central Tibet. The theory is that the Dardhic Aryans came to (undivided) India, established settlement in the Pamir regions and then branched out to Chitral and Gilgit (Moorcroft, Trebeck, 2008: 150). The ancient Greeks and romans knew about, and were in touch with, this handsome Indo-Aryan community. Herodotus mentioned this community. Pliny and Ptolemy wrote that the Dard's lived in the mountains on the eastern border of river Indus. This is the region corresponding to present (undivided Ladakh) and Kashmir. Sir Aurel Stein, the 19th century British scholar, wrote, „„the Dardhas (mentioned in Rajatarangani) are the modern Dardhs, their seats, which do not seem to have changed since the time of Herodotus, extend from Chitral and yasin (both in POK) across the Indus region of Gilgit, chilas, and bunji (also in POK) to the Kishanganga valley in the immediate north of Kashmir. The tribes inhabiting the latter valley (kishanganga) are meant in the most of the passages in which the chronicle (the Rajatarangani) mentioned the Daradas or Darads. „The Dardhistan region is mostly in the northern areas of POK and partly in Gurez, Tulail, and Drass. The da-Hanu region of Ladakh has a sizeable Dardh population but is not part of this belt. (Rabbani, 1981:3-5).
Dard's have a long history. In the opinion of Leitner, Dard's belong to the Aryan stock. This opinion is also endorsed by Niharranjan Ray who states that the Dardhic Aryans parted from the main Aryan mass just after their entrance into India. Dardhic Aryans then colonized the Pamir region from where they spread to Chitral and Gilgit. At present, their major concentration lies in Dardhistan (Derdesa) the area to the north of Kashmir Valley, especially in the catchment of Kishanganga north of Sardi, Gurez and Tilel. In the valley of Gurez there is a mixture of Dards and Kashmiris, but the former predominates. From there onwards the people are almost entirely of that race, and dialectics of Dard language, a language quite different from Kashmiri are spoken. In physical appearance, the Dardhs are broad shouldered, moderately stout and have well-proportioned bodies. They are relatively cut off from larger cultural influences, have relative cultural homogeneity and a simple technology, generally occupy common geographical areas. The main source of their livelihood is agriculture and gathering of forest products, pastoralism, cottage industries and trade (Taylor, 2013:62). Gurez also pronounced as ‘‘Gorai’’ is a gateway to the famous silk route across central Asia. People of Gurez valley are Dardhs and have their ancestral connection with Gilgit valley now in Pakistan. Historically, Gurez was part of ancient Dardhistan, stretching from Sharada Peeth in the west, Minimarg in the east. (Kaul, 2014:52, 65, 78,99)
Gurez, the land of ancient Aryans or Dardhistan is a land locked mountainous valley with a geographical area of 362.88 sq. km inhabiting population of 37, 992 persons purely of tribe Dardh, falling within the Kashmir Province of Jammu and Kashmir state (Khan, 2011:28). The valley is a typical case of disadvantaged regions due to its economic, social and regional specifities. Gurez valley was on the segment of ancient root that went from the plains of Kashmir to Gilgit and then Kashgar. Hundreds of stone inscriptions in Kharoshthi, Brahmi, Hebrew and Tibetan have been found in the valleys of north Gurez, along the silk root, especially in chilas (POK) (Shauq, Zahoor and Farooqi, 1997:124-127). Dawar is an important archeological site. Downstream along the river Kishanganga are the ruins of the ancient Sharda University. The kishan Ganga passes through the base and western arm of Gurez (also spelt gurias). The burzil stream, too, flows through western arm. The name by which the people of Gurez call their valley is „go-hara‟ (cow pasture), not „Gurez‟. Because of rich pasture, Gurez supports cattle and sheep in large numbers. Traditionally the people of Gurez used to sell their milk, meat and wool in plains of Kashmir and purchase grains with the money thus earned (Majeed, Bano, and 2009:31). The inhabitants of Gurez are purely Dardhs. Their traditional dress is different from that in the plains of Kashmir. They „choga‟ (coat) with belt (cummerbund) tied at the center. Their pajamas are loose and of calf-length. While the Kashmiris have traditionally worn turbans as in the rest of north India, the Dardhs wear distinctive cap. There is also a small community of Kashmiris in Dawar and Bagtore. And there is a clan that was, till the 1950, called „thag‟ (the name as the Hindi-Urdu „thug‟). They are somewhat darker skinned than the Dardhs and Kashmiris and are believed to have come from the plains of central India. They settled in Gurez and kishtwara (doda, Jammu), Perhaps to escape the anti-thuggee campaign of Lord William Bentinck (1738-1809). They converted to Islam and borrowed the surname lone from their Kashmiri neighbours (Stein, 2005:125). The Dard tribe of Gurez in north Kashmir district of Bandipora has many distinct characteristic features. One of their distinguishing features is that the majority of them live in scattered and small habitations located in remote and inaccessible settlements in hilly and forest areas of the Gurez valley. Originally following characteristics were used for awarding Dardhs of Gurez as scheduled tribe.
Distinctive Culture, Language: They have developed community wise their own distinctive culture, language. They exchange their views in a common dialect. This element strengthens their sense of unity. Common culture springs out from the sense of unity, common language, common religion, and common political organisation. Common culture produces a life of homogeneity among the Dardhs of Gurez. They are ethnically and culturally quite distinct from Kashmiris.
Economic Backwardness: Dards of Gurez is markedly different from that of the non-Tribals or advanced groups of people. Their Livelihood is based on primitive agriculture, low cost closed economy based on low level of technology. Their socio- economic structure is generally based on forests, agriculture etc. Absence of technological aids is another structural feature of their economy Geographical isolation: They live in cluster, exclusive remote and in hospitable areas like hills and forests. They live mostly in secluded and isolated areas and maintain their distinct cultural heritage. They are generally, hesitant in intermingling with the non-Tribals culturally and adopting the non–tribal concepts for developing their economy. They generally occupy common geographical areas. The inhabitants of Gurez valley are facing geographical isolation due to heavy snowfall in the area.
Population: As per census 2011 the total population the total population of Gurez is 37992. The Dradh population in Gurez is distributed across three sub-regions of Gurez valley-Bagtore, Dawar (Gurez) and Tulail Valley. The Dardh tribe is divided and sub-divided into large number of castes like Samoon, Lone, Shangroo, Magray, Khan, Pintoo, Dar, Mapnoo and Mir. They are mutually exclusive, each having the endogenous and exogamous clan with their own named and lifestyle.
Education: Literacy and educational attainment are powerful indicators of social and economic development among the backward groups in India. As with socio-economic conditions, the educational background of Dardh Tribe of Gurez is equally unstable. In Gurez, the demand for education among the poorer sections of the population is much lower than it is in urban areas. The literacy rate among women in Gurez is low the reason is they have to work in order to cope with their daily living and do not place a high value on education unless it is linked to vocational training. Additionally, in Gurez and its adjacent villages infrastructure is lacking, they find it difficult to have access to schools. Many are not even aware of the existence of schools in their areas due to lack of communications and networks.
Socio-Economic Problems of Dard Tribe of Gurez
The progress and prosperity of a nation is judged from the socio-economic status of its population especially weaker sections of society (Goel, 2010:156). Disadvantaged populations are more vulnerable and exposed to problem of social exclusion which includes immutable factors such as social, economic, political, and cultural as well as health, education, hierarchy, displacement, migration, gender, caste, poverty etc. (Chatterjee and Sheoran, 2007:7-10). In the Indian context, marginalized social groups are primarily the Scheduled Castes (SCs), the Scheduled Tribes (STs), the Other Backward Castes (OBCs) and the Muslims (Chatterjee, Sheoran, 2007:7-10). Historically, these groups have suffered discrimination and have been excluded from the mainstream economic and social spheres in one way or the other. The exclusion of these social groups has to be seen within the purview of the forceful obstruction to the exercise of their rights and intrusions against the vector of freedom. These processes of elimination are more critical than the outcome facing the marginalized social groups. Such forms of exclusion are not just worrisome, but they simultaneously, culminate in similar typologies of anti-welfare customs, which are not generic. Untouchability, for instance, is one of the outcomes of this process of exclusion. In India, exclusion is structured around the societal processes that exclude, discriminate, isolate and deprive some communities on the basis of their social group characteristics, for instance, caste and ethnicity. Even after 59 years of independence there is still visible inequality among Marginalized and (Scheduled Caste and Tribes) the mainstream population in case of major human development and socio economic variables. Over the time period, the disparity between these two sections of the people was found to be decreased but at a slower pace. The state of Jammu and Kashmir in many respects has problems of isolation, backward and inaccessible areas, and lack of an industrial base and employment opportunities. Like scheduled tribes in Jammu and Kashmir, the Dard tribes in the north Kashmir of district Bandipora remain at the bottom of the social order, while majority live in below poverty line. Da rdh -S hi na tribe is said to be the last of the original Aryans living in the remote Gurez region (Keith, 2008:251-288). also The economy of Dard tribe is largely dependent on agriculture, pastoralism, cottage industries and trade. As with socio-economic conditions, the educational background of Dardhs is equally unstable. Majority of the Dard tribe members live below poverty line and have low access to education. In remote areas of Gurez, the demand for education among the poorer sections of the population is much lower than it is in urban areas. The irregular education system prevalent among the Tribals in Gurez is among few main causes of the uneven social structure. Women in adjacent areas have to work in order to cope with their daily living and do not place a high value on education unless it is linked to vocational training; they find it difficult to have access to schools. Women are affected as they are actively engaged in the tribal economic activity dependent on forests. They constitute the weakest section from the ecological, economic and educational angles. They constitute the matrix of poverty. Additionally, in remote areas where a good infrastructure is lacking, many are not even aware of the existence of schools in their areas due to lack of communications and networks.
Basic level Amenities:
Gurez a valley constituting of three parts –Dawar-Bagtore and Tulail is one of the backward and unexplored part of North Kashmir Bandipora District where most of the population constituted of Dardh Shina tribe. The valley is over 68 Kilometer from district headquarter, one has to reach crossing over 17000 ft. Razdan pass. The Gurez remains cut off from rest of the world for almost five months’ year due to harsh weather, as there is no alternate road to reach during winters.
- However besides apparent emerging makeover, the whole valley, and its parts are lacking almost all basic amenities like health, Electricity, road Connectivity and Transport facilities. The main road 85 Kilometer connecting Gurez with rest of the world is in shambles since decades together, maintained by Border Roads Organization, this road never witnesses proper development and reconstruction through thousands of BRO worker with machinery are working during the summers every year. Roads within Gurez too are not in better condition while the road from Dawar to Tulail is almost ‗semi-motorable‘.Many of the hamlets like Kilshay, Refugee, upper Neeru, Danghithal, Malagam and Upper Burnie have no approach road and residents have to exercise daily walk on natural tracks. Most of the villages lack proper sanitation, Health, and hygiene.
- The health and medical system in the area are in the absurd condition in main Sub District Hospital most of the doctors and paramedical staff is not available. Over 15 posts of medicos are unavailable while most of the villages have without health facilities. The health centers wherever established lack proper infrastructure and facilities even many of the health centers and sub-centre are established in shabby rooms.
- There is no electricity available in the area; the government has installed diesel generators in the villages. A single generator feeds a village of about 60 households and provides regular 5-hour electricity daily from 7 Pm to 11 PM besides two-hour electricity from 5 am to 7 am. Among the total registered 4433 households, only ten percent are getting benefits from LPG while rest 90 per cent prefer to use wood for their daily use.
- 1100 households from three villages Wanpora, Dawer and Kanzalwan out of 4433 total registered households are using LPG cylinders while rest of the people prefer to use natural sources to keep their houses hot in freezing temperature. If official ‘s records are to be believed there are 27 Un-electrified villages among the total 41 villages of the Gurez valley. People in Gurez are still using woods to feed their Chulas and heat up the houses in deep freeze instead of using LPG cylinders which are now the top essential entity of kitchen in every household of the state. Most of the households in the Gurez valley prefer to use the wood fallowing the long old tradition of locality besides it is easily available in the localities.
- Though the people in the other far away rural villages of the state have to move towards nearby forest to collect the wood, but it is different in the Gurez where the routine avalanches during the six months of heavy winters drag wood close to the doors of the villagers, who later in October- November every year sliced the wood for their domestic use. From preparing meals to heat up traditional covered tin furnace ‘(Bukharis), and wood is used to maintain the temperature in cowsheds amid of freeze.
- Over 60 percent of the Gurez population is falling under the Below Poverty Line while rest of the 40 percent are enjoying the tribal status while residing and putting up in other parts of the state. The unattended and un-represented the far-off tribal‘s had no idea of the basic facility and are living their life according to the tribal makeup.
Though Gurez is located on the mighty river Neelam (Kishan Ganga) originating form glaciers of another part of Kashmir and Sheera Sir, but people in upper reaches lack proper drinking water facility. The water pipeline system is available in lower areas while people in upper hamlets had to rely on natural water fall or rivulets. In many villages women have to walk kilometers together to fetch the water. The communication system in the area is very weak from transport to telecommunication Gurez has no proper infrastructure. There is only one telecom exchange with a capacity of 600 connections of BSNL while two towers have been erected for mobile services. Both the telecom exchange and towers remain out of service for most of the time due to the proper cell signal. The road connectivity and availability of transport are not sufficient, availability of public transport and proper road infrastructure through a need hardly addressed by local administration as well elected representatives. Gurez is a virgin tourist destination and can attract national and international tourist but due to growing social stratification. A single community or caste is reaching its development leaving others behind which has not only affected Gurez society but geography and culture are assimilating the changes of the exclusive social development system. If there is uniform socio-economic and educational development there will be social cohesion which can be the start of development and preservation of tradition and culture.
Exclusion of Dard tribe of Gurez:
The exclusion of Dard's, on the other hand, is based on a different set of economic and cultural factors that have little to do with caste ideology. Traditionally they lived in more remote areas and in closer proximity to forests and natural resources. Their difficult geographical terrain inhabited by Dards has isolated them from mainstream society. They are practically deprived of many civic facilities and are subjected to isolation from modern and civilized way of living since so many centuries. Social exclusion typifies discrimination and deprivation, be it in the status of health/education/ tribal women. They live in physically isolation in hilly and forested areas with poorly staffed health centres. Limited coverage of all-weather roads makes transportation in emergencies virtually impossible, even if medical personnel attended health centers. Even The curriculum is primarily communicated in the dominant language of the state and contextualized in the backdrop of mainstream society (Bano, 1991:36-37). The tribal children often face discrimination when they find it difficult to cope with these new challenges. Moreover, this discrimination often inhibits their educational achievement and leads to deprivation of education. Cultural exclusion extends their exclusion to their way of living. Consequently, economic, social and cultural exclusion casts a life of oppression and exploitation on the Dardh tribe. This group has been subjected to isolation, exclusion, neglect and underdevelopment owing to their geographical location and cultural exclusivity. Thus, in totality, the exclusion of Dardh tribe of Gurez denotes the following characteristics. Inability to participate effectively in economic, social, political and cultural life. Distance and alienation from a mainstream society. Isolation from major societal mechanisms which produce or distribute social resources. Such anomalies were wide spread at the time of adoption of the Constitution, although some corrective measures have been taken from time to time. Despite these special provisions, Dard tribe are living below the poverty line, are illiterate and suffer from extremely poor physical health. The overall condition of Dard tribe of Gurez, including their poverty, is attributed to their social and geographical isolation. The Constitution guarantees social justice for all sections of the people in India. The key objective of social justice is to remove man made inequalities, political, economic and social, particularly by guaranteeing equal opportunities to all citizens in various types of political economic and social activities. Even though the Constitution guarantees equal rights and equal opportunities to all citizens of India, the preamble of the Indian Constitution guarantees three kinds of justice, namely social, economic as well as political (Venkateshwararro, 2006: 159-163).
Partition and identity Erosion of Dard tribe of Gurez
Not only are families divided across the LoC but so too are cultures, such as the Pahari shina and Gujjar cultures. The people of boarder areas including rajouri poonch and Gurez districts on the Indian side and on the Pakistani share a common history and heritage. A similar division occurred between the people of Gurez and Astore on the Indian and Pakistani sides of the LoC, respectively. More importantly, the people of Kargil, Leh, Gilgit, and Skardu have the Balti culture in common with others along the Silk Route. Gurez a high-altitude valley in North Kashmir’s Bandipora District is home to 25,000 Dards, who are part of a wider group of Dardic-Shina speaking people spread across the Northern areas of Pakistan and Ladakh as well as parts of Afghanistan. Dard Shin or Dard tribe once had their homeland spread across the valleys, tucked inside the great Himalayas at the edge of north Kashmir from Chitral and Yasin, across the Indus regions of Gilgit, Chilas and Bunji to Gurez valley. Gurez valley is an isolated because of harsh weather area witness during winter season and its location between Indo-Pak Border. The valley is hotspot witnessing frequent shelling, that erupts between the two South Asian neighbors has not only made this beautiful valley largely inaccessible to people from wider society, but also to the Dard Shin villagers who have had to flee their homes on the many occasions when hostilities between India and Pakistan amply. The tribal identity of Dards across Gurez was caught in the pandemonium following the emergence of India and Pakistan as Nation states in 1947. People are trapped in the vicious circle of various sensitive factors such as inaccessibility, marginality of resources, fragility, poor carrying capacity, vulnerability of non-farm employment, un-explored niches, out-migration and erosion of Dard tribe due to displacement etc. The Dard-Shins are believed to be the descendants of the early Aryan settlers who arrived more than two thousand years ago. References to them can be traced back to the writings of Herodotus. Just as how Kashmiris separate their identity from the idea of being an ‘Indian’, most people in Gurez don’t consider themselves as Kashmiris. But there’s a difference. The distinction made by Gurezis does not stem out of any anger or frustration as it is with many Kashmiris. Instead, it is a very organic distinction. The locals belong to the Dardic tribe and speak an Indo-Aryan language called Shina. Before Partition, Gurez was part of southern Gilgit-Baltistan.The famous Chinese pilgrim, Ou-Kong has mentioned three most important trade routes of the Kashmir, the first route leads over the Zoji La pass to Ladakh and thence to Tibet through Demchok. The second route leads through upper Kishenganga valley (Gurais valley) and from there to Skardu to join the Gilgit route across Khunjrab pass to Central Asia and Chinese Turkistan. And the third one being the Jehlum Valley route along Baramulla. About Kishenganga valley-Skardu-Gilgit route, Walter R. Lawrence writes in his famous book , “THE VALLEY OF KASHMIR”. Most Gurezis still have family members in Gilgit-Baltistan as well as other parts of Pakistan. If you ask a common Gurezi if he is Kashmiri or an Indian, he will say: “Hum tho Shina hai (We are Shina).” The onslaught of modernization and the partition that divided the Dard Shin homeland by a hostile Line of Control between India and Pakistan, Once the gateway to Central Asia, Gurez Valley inhabited by Dard-shin speaking people in a forgotten corner of Kashmir is still home to the Dard people. This tribe squeezed to the remote and hidden Gurez valley in north Kashmir struggling to save their vanishing Shina language, their culture, traditions and a distinct identity. n view of its strategic position, this region has always been coveted by different powers on its borders. However, the Dards managed to maintain their independent status till the middle of last century when Maharaja Gulab Singh and his son, Maharaja Ranbir Singh, finally subjugated them. Before conversion to Islam, the Dards were followers of Buddhism and even to this day traces of Buddhist influences can be found in most of their customs and rituals. There are still some villages in the side valleys that follow the Buddhist religion (Dutt, 300-301). The Dard language i.e. Shina is spoken in whole of the Dardisata, which starts from Tragbal Bandipora and extends beyond Pamir Badakshan, on one side and up to Dras Kargil on other side. On west its boundaries extend up to Peshawar via the Valley of Kagan.chorwan the last village leads to another part of Gurais, which is under direct control of Pakistan. It is a way towards Burzil and Kamri passes. From burzil the route connects to Astore-Gilgit and finally to Central Asia. After Burzil we have Desoi planes covered with wild flowers. Burzil Pass gives way to two routes one towards Gilgit and another towards Baltistan-Skardu. In Kargil war infiltrators crossed through this pass and went towards Tiger Hill at Kargil and Mushkow Valley. The Dard people speak Shina; The Dards have taken to Urdu both in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir and in POK. People in chilas and Gilgit have switched to Urdu in a bigger way because their area is not as inaccessible from the plains of Pakistan as the Gurez valley is from rest of India. This language and the related culture are somewhat better maintained in Gurez, and flourish best in kargil (Ladakh). Shina is much like Hindi-Urdu and, sometimes, English („two‟ is „du‟ and „ three‟ is„tera‟/tre.) their language is very Indo-Aryan. Actually, it is close to Sanskrit for instance, they call the sun „suri‟ (from the sanskritic „surya‟). Their word for hand is „hath‟. The tongue is called „jeeb‟ (Devy, 2014:285-288). Despite rich environmental values and geographical profile, the livelihoods of Gurezi‟s were found vulnerable to geopolitical affairs of being a border valley and various mountain specifities. People are trapped in the vicious circle of various sensitive factors such as inaccessibility, marginality of resources, fragility, poor carrying capacity, vulnerability of non-farm employment, un-explored niches, out-migration and erosion of Dard tribe due to displacement etc. (Khan, Ganai, Bhat, 2006:98-99). All that changed when India and Pakistan were handed their identities in 1947. The trade routes were sealed; the goods stopped coming in, as did the news. The people of Gurez were gradually pushed into a life of self-sustenance, isolation, and, to a certain extent, oblivion, tucked away in a corner of India that they are unfamiliar with.
Conclusion and Discussion:
As the line of control between India and Pakistan again hots up and the ceasefire seems to be a forgotten memory, Gurez seem to be doomed to be among the sites of constant warfare between two nuclear powers. People ran for their lives and took shelter in safer places. The continued cross border mortar shelling made residents of this town highly apprehensive of an escalation in border tensions. The Gurez Valley is home to the Dard tribe, the aboriginals of this land. Gurez, spelt by some as Gurais, is part of Dardistan, an old civilisation. The Dard people are an ethnic group found predominantly in Gurez and the adjoining regions, and also in northern Pakistan, North West India and eastern Afghanistan. Gurez was once a vital stopover on the Silk Route connecting Kashmir to Kashgar, an oasis city in Xinjiang province of China. Gurez was part of this highly strategic route of the ancient world. Its unique location made the Dards a highly powerful tribe.Prior to the Partition of Kashmir, Gurez had been a popular destination for foreign tourists.
Today, rolls of concertina wires – barbed, razor wires – cut across the undulating slopes of Gurez, hurting cattle and smaller animals. The barbed wires confuse the gentle villagers of Gurez. They cannot figure out why their valley, where crime is rare, should be slashed haphazardly by these menacing wires. The onslaught of modernization and finally the partition that sliced the Dard Shin homeland by a hostile Line of Control between India and Pakistan, this tribe squeezed to the remote and hidden Gurez valley in north Kashmir struggling to save their vanishing Shina language, their culture, traditions and a distinct identity. Perhaps it is this physical isolation that also protected and preserved the environmental and cultural treasures of Gurez Valley that once stood on the Silk route connecting Kashmir to Kashgar (now Xingjian province of China). Today the last remnants of this unique ethnic group – the 25,000 Dard Shin people – is waging its final battle of survival. Their small sanctuary in the hidden valley of Gurez is at the verge of being submerged by the dam of a hydro-power project and the entire tribe permanently uprooted from their ancient homeland. After post-partition scenario the dard tribe has undergone tremendous transformation, they now relish chickens, Kanti, Biryani, Kabab, Momosa, Burgers, Pizzas and Dal-Chawal. The influences of globalization and corporate world have reached this tribal remote Valley, when we enter the transformed tin roofed houses and unaltered wooden houses, one thing that is now common and indicates the corporate and globalization influences is having Dish antennas fixed on wooden walls or standing on altered tin roofs. The construction of Kishan Ganga Hydro Electric Project is changing the cultural geography in such a way that in coming few years one can hardly guess that there was a tribal living on the peaks in the Gurez valley. The mechanization is destroying the peaks and
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Suheel Rasool Mir is Research Fellow at the University of Kashmir Srinagar, Department of Sociology. His research interests include Globalization, gender, Women Studies, social exclusion and Marxian philosophy. He has done his master’s in philosophy (MPhil) on the topic entitled Reservation Policies and Social Justice: A Study of Dard Tribe of Gurez . He has published 20 Research Papers/ Articles in reputed journals including Global Dialogue and ESymposium jointly published by International Sociological Association and Sage Publication and presented more than 30 papers in International and National conferences in reputed institutions like University College London, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), and Indian Institute of Social Sciences (ISS), Jamia Milli Islamia (JMI), Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), and Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA) etc. Currently the Author is pursuing his Ph.D. at the University of Kashmir (Department of Sociology). He is also a regular contributor to various newspapers and blogs.
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- Suheel Rasool Mir (Author), 2018, Identity Erosion of the Dard Tribe Under the Making of Nation States, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/437213