- Bakarwal’s are the Nomadic tribe of Jammu & Kashmir
- Bakarwal’s move from plains to pastures to feed their live stock
- They migrate from Jammu to Kashmir during summers and back in winters
- Live stock is the only source of livelihood for the tribe
In the current situation when the world is under lockdown due to Covid-19 pandemic, which has severely affected almost every sector and every region of the world. With the rapid spread of Covid-19, panic has gripped the masses everywhere and Kashmir being no exception.
The lockdown across the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir to prevent spread of Covid-19 has not only affected the normal life, but has also made the movement of nomads quite difficult. The nomads also know as Bakarwal, migrate to pastures in the upper reaches of Kashmir region along with their livestock during summers every year, but this year the things were altogether different due to the coronavirus.
Nomads migrate to Kashmir valley during summers and return to plains before the onset of winter. The Bakarwals wander in search of good pastures for their cattle. They are easily recognizable, travelling large distances with their animals throughout the year.
Every year in April – May, more than one hundred thousand people from the nomadic Bakarwal tribe arrive in the meadows of Kashmir and parts of Ladakh. After crossing snowy mountains with their cattle and belongings, Kashmir valley’s lush green meadows becomes there home till September, after which they begin their return journey.
This seasonal shifting of “homes” ensures a regular flow of income for the families, but in recent times, livelihood for the tribe has become hard. The lockdown due to Covid-19 has also made the movement of these nomads difficult.
Zafar Iqbal Bocken (40), a nomad from Jammu reached Anantnag district of Kashmir region after a month of walk along with his family reveals his ordeal “On the way we felt like there was no one in the world without us. A strange world has been created as we heard in Srinagar that people don’t even have to shake hands with another because of some disease. We were shocked to hear it”. There stay in Anantnag is short and they will be heading towards pastures of Aru valley in Pahalgam, which is about 160 kms from the Srinagar city.
Another nomad Hafiz Ahmed Bocken said “I don’t know the name of this disease but we heard that people who get infected by this disease transfers it to others as well. So, it’s been a hard migration for us as everything was closed along the way, there was a killing silence,”
Earlier, the nomads were advised to suspend their bi-annual migration to the pastures in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh in view of Covid-19 lockdown.