In photos: Kashmir’s nomadic tribe faces existential crisis

In photos: Kashmir's nomadic tribe faces existential crisis
A shepherd walks near the herd of sheep at Tosa Maidan situated in Budgam district in central Kashmir ABID BHAT

Throughout Indian-administered Kashmir, a new nomadic tribe is undoubtedly struggling to maintain it is traditional lifestyle in the face of changing forest areas and weather conditions.

“People try to paint a rosy picture of our everyday living but ours is usually, in fact , a épigramme of endurance and even miseries, ” states that Liaqat Khan, some shepherd from the Bakarwal tribe.

The Bakarwals are part of the 3. 4 million-strong nomadic community within the Jammu and Kashmir region, whose key occupation is showing cattle.

At round 55km (34. 18 miles) from Srinagar – the summer finances of Jammu and even Kashmir – that they camp in Dardwodur forests.

A shepherd woman poses with her daughter as they prepare lunch inside a mud house at Kousarnaag in Shopian district.


In these alpine forest, they carry out their particular traditional routine you need to women collect fire wood for the stoves of these makeshift kitchen, children play and laugh around their goats, while men visit uphill to feed their herd.

Town has for centuries depended on the forest in addition to lived off this specific land to survive as well as thrive.

A shepherd walks near the herd of sheep at Tosa Maidan in Budgam district in central Kashmir


They pass six months in Kashmir during summers, forthcoming in the valley for April. By October, they return to often the plains of Jammu for the winters.

“We belong to nowhere, ” says Zulfi, a young Bakarwal girl around Kashmir. “This is simply our summer house and we will stay here for the time being before moving to Jammu with the six-month-long stay right now there. ”

A girl rides a horse with cattle on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway while heading back to the warmer plains ahead of winter.


The Bakarwals were officially declared like a “scheduled tribe” rapid tribal communities recognized by the India’s Constitution as socially and additionally economically disadvantaged you should by the federal government throughout 2001.

Today, this tribe fears to the endurance of its regular lifestyle due to improved wild animal violence on their cattle and also their main source of income.

A shepherd woman poses a photograph as she carries her son and belongings near Dal lake


The community even struggles with increased cases of inclement weather. “It’s really difficult to travel to the high altitude pastures of one’s Himalayas, ” suggests Liaqat Khan, an important shepherd.

For June, unseasonal snowfall and severe winter months conditions in Chenab valley of Jammu and Kashmir remaining hundreds of tribal people stuck on road side panels, with little food items or fodder.

A Bekarwal nomad community girl prepares bread for her family members at a roadside temporary camp in Srinagar.


Another main concern for the tribe is their use of forest lands.

This past year, hundreds of families from community were offered eviction notices pertaining to “illegally” occupying woodlands which they have occupied for decades. Authorities even demolished several properties – the community hails from temporary tents mud huts in these regions.

A few months later, however , Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said experts would work to safeguard the particular rights of tribal communities in the region and offer them with rights certificates.

A Kashmiri shepherd shearing his sheep in Sonamarg.


The cruel realities of their existing existence are fighting the tribe’s fresh generation to focus on acquiring a good education and also living an easier lifetime.

The administration has also set up community colleges to educate children for such tribes throughout forest areas.

A shepherd walks with his sheep on a road in Srinagar.


Despite a number of pressures on the community, many say they are determined to stick to their conventional lifestyle.

“We aren’t giving up about anything, ” states that Zulfi. “Although you’re uncertain about existence, we are firmly holding on to our traditions, regardless of. ”

Many images by Abid Bhat. Text simply by Zaid Bin Shabir

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