A Pashtun village’s fears over loss of identity

The community received a major jolt after an Indian government-sponsored survey in 1986 categorized Pashtuns under the Gujjar community, creating a sense of injustice and erasing their distinct identity, Khan said.

And four years later, the Mandal Commission or the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Commission (SEBC) even dropped them out of the Gujjar community, leaving them without any recognition.

“Our struggle for recognition as a distinct community and reservation in jobs and university admissions will continue,” Khan said.

The inception of Radio Kashmir in 1948 offered a platform for the Pashto language, featuring news and cultural programs. At that time, no other regional language was represented on Radio Kashmir, except for Pashto, Khan said. “Unfortunately, our community was kept away from modern education resulting in the gradual disappearance of Pashto programs on radio and television,” he added.

“Our space and representation were taken away from us,” said Khan, blaming vested interests among the Other Backward Class (OBC) groups in Kashmir for obstructing Pashto from gaining a presence on radio and television. “We used to have Pashto news and cultural programs on Radio Kashmir. But not anymore.”

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