By Ghulam Server Shaheen

Born into the world’s largest transhumance Tribal family (Gujjar & Bakerwal), being a religious-linguistic minority, and a militancy-affected child left agony and pain in me. As a child of an economically underprivileged and geographically disadvantageous Gujjar family, it pinches me in a post-modernist society of rationality, equality, justice, and free will. Stigmas of tribal identity largely introduce, define, and leverage/deleverage me at each point of my life. It reflects my being before others without knowing who I am.

I live on the border of India and Pakistan where the repercussive current of partition erupting tension on the divided line ruptures lives and forms stories of pain. The recent screams of innocent civilians from the Gujjar community, “O Nabi go vasto mina namarro,” O please do not beat us for the sake of the Prophet (PBUH) in Topa Peer village, still echoing in the hills of Pir Panjal. Jammu & Kashmir, where the identity of being Kashmiri (when you are out of the state/UT), is enough to be targeted, threatened, and beaten.

Though modern democratic states have brought various uplifting schemes for socially marginalized classes in the form of reservation, the Sachar Committee report of 2006 says that the Muslim social system has yet to admit its caste-based multi-layered society of ‘Ashraaf’, ‘Ajlaaf’, and ‘Arzal’. And it has yet to adhere to the last sermon of the Prophet (PBUH), “hajja-tul-vida“, which grants equal status to every caste, region, and race except for piety, “Taqwa”.

A region like my background is marked by ghettoization based on the stigmatization of tribalism, casteism, regionalism, and linguistic prejudices that have historical trajectories which lured my intellectual curiosity. It pushed me to think about seeded inequalities and complexities in society based on culture, region, and language.

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