In Pictures: Kashmir valley’s nomad population begins migration to plains

The nomads of Kashmir Valley, also known as Gujjars and Bakarwals, would migrate throughout the months of October and November.

As the temperature has begun to drop in the upper areas of Jammu and Kashmir, where they move throughout the summers with their cattle, the nomads have begun to return to plain areas.

Migration takes place during two months

Known locally as Gujjar and Bakarwals, the nomads of Kashmir valley will migrate during the months of October and November.

Kashmir valley’s nomad population begins migration to plains
Kashmir valley’s nomad population during their migration to plains

While talking to Digpu News, Shafiq Ahmad, a nomad said that their family has started to shift towards plain areas from the last week of September. “Such a migration towards plains will take place during the months of October and November,” Shafiq added.

Moving out from upper areas has its own challenges

The Bakarwal family, which was moving out from the Yousmarg area of Budgam, stated that they encounter several challenges in the upper altitudes

One of the biggest challenges they face, as per the nomad family, is that if any of their animals becomes ill or wounded during the travel, their load rises since they must carry it with them.

Kashmir valley’s nomad population begins migration to plains
A nomad person carrying his son on his shoulders

Shafiq’s elder son, Nazim Shafi, said that they also faced such a situation last year. “One of our animals was wounded in the upper reaches, where our cattle had migrated during the summer season. We couldn’t let the animal die there, as it meant not only a loss but also the futility of rearing it for seven years,” he told Digpu News.

They had to seek the support of their friends and relatives in order to help them move the injured animal alongside them. Finally, they had to carry the wounded animal on their shoulders on a wooden stretcher.

Kashmir valley’s nomad population begins migration to plains
Herds of sheep grazing on the roadside while being shifted by the nomads towards plains

Tough terrain, lack of amenities make Bakarwals susceptible

“We travelled through difficult terrain to reach our destination. But yes, had our relatives not been there, it would have been impossible for us to shift the cattle,” Nazim added.

It is not only during the migration that this population faces hardships. In fact, the nomads have to live in some of the inhospitable locations, with varying temperatures and a lack of amenities.

Kashmir valley’s nomad population begins migration to plains
A nomad transporting his family’s belongings on a horse

However, they have been going on with their traditional way of living and earning their living from the sale of their livestock, mostly.

It is in context to note here that the Bakarwal and Gujjar communities in J&K were designated as Scheduled Tribes in 1991. As a nomadic tribe, they expanded throughout a vast area, from the Pir Panjal Range to the Hindukush to Ladakh in the Himalayan highlands of South Asia. They are goatherders and shepherds who migrate from one location to another with their herds on a seasonal basis.

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Dil-Paziir (Urdu; meaning ‘heart pleasing) is a special edition positive news series brought to you by Digpu, sourced from conflict areas, starting from Kashmir. Our local journalists have successfully shared many inspirational stories from the valley – from the invention of E-Charkha, automatic ventilator in Kashmir, stories of brotherhood through to the first-ever cricket tourney for Blind sportsmen, all the stories make us awe-struck. These are NOT FOR REPRODUCTION.

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