Nomadic tribe of Uttarakhand: Van Gujjars

In recent news, the Uttarakhand high court has criticized the state government for neglecting the rights of the Van Gujjars nomadic tribe and forcing them to survive in conditions said to be below animal existence as they do not have proper shelter or economic means to survive. The High Court has ordered the state government of Uttarakhand to provide the people of the nomadic tribe with proper accommodation, medicines, potable water and food. The High Court has also ordered to get them tested for the Covid-19 virus before letting them enter the Govind Pashu Vihar National Park located in Uttarkashi.

The High Court was responding to a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) filed by a NGO based in Delhi named Think Act Rise Foundation in 2019.  This PIL was filed to highlight the situation of the Van Gujjar nomads, who occupy certain forest areas in the state of Uttarakhand. The PIL filed has requested the high court to make the Van Gujjar community a beneficiary under the Forest Right Act and to give them land rights and to quash all irrelevant cases made against them.

State Government view

The State Government of Uttarakhand have responded to the court by stating that if the Van Gujjar Nomads are allowed inside the the Govind Pashu Vihar National Park, they might endanger the wildlife by spreading of Covid-19 virus from humans to the animals.

About Van Gujjar NomadicTribe

Van Gujjars are a nomadic tribe occupying the foothills of Himalayas and are also found in the states of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Union Territories Jammu and Kashmir. They are mostly buffalo-herders and are among the tribes who depend a lot on the wild habitat.

About Uttarakhand

Capital: Gairsain (summer), Dehradun (winter)

Chief Minister: Tirath Singh Rawat

Governor: Baby Rani Maurya

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