74% Nomadic Children in Kashmir are Child Labourers


Srinagar, Nov 13: Extreme poverty, child labour, the early marriage system and Nomadic way of life is causing dark shadows over the future of lakhs of nomadic Gujjar children residing in the most backward, hilly and border areas of Kashmir. This was revealed by a Survey conducted by Tribal Research and Cultural foundation.

Dr. Javaid Rahi, National secretary of the Foundation while releasing the report said that out of 100 nomad houses of Gujjar and Bakerwal tribe surveyed in Kashmir, a total of 74 percent Gujjar children between the age of 7 to 15 were engaged in physical labour.

According to the survey, the worst condition was of the children belonging to Ajjhari Gujjar (Shepherd) and Manjhii Gujjar (Buffalo keeper) 83 percent of whom have not seen the doors of the school and only 17 percent of children were receiving education in religious institutes.

The survey said among the high ups in the tribe, 93 percent were domestic servants in their own community.

It was an unfortunate part of the findings that no Governmental organization or NGO has brought this to light until now, Javed said.

According to the survey, even today when some sections have attained 100 percent literacy this ratio is very low in Nomad Gujjar and Bakerwal tribes and among women this ratio is almost zero.

The survey said the children belonging to nomadic sections of Gujjar Tribe are put to physical labour at a very early age and about 37 percent of children are working without wages. They were being provided only sub-standard food and clothing.

The survey said various central and state programmes including those of UNICEF will not achieve any success until they consider socio-economic reasons for child labour and work in the roots of the tribe.

Fayaz Wani reports on life in Srinagar, Kashmir.