From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Gojri, varieties of Pashto and Urdu

The Bakarwal (also Bakharwal, Bakrawallah and Bakerwal) are a mostly- Muslim[1] nomadic tribe based in the Pir Panjal and Himalayan mountains of South Asia. They are traditionally, and still mainly, goatherds and shepherds. They reside in the entire Kashmir region between India and Pakistan, and in the Nuristan province of Afghanistan.[2].


The Gurjar-Bakarwals claim a common ancestry from the Gujjar tribe. Gujjars and Bakerwals are one tribe popularly known as Gurjar or Gurjars in South Asia. Gujjars have many names like Ajjadh, Dhangar, Dohdhi,Banhara, Vanvasi etc. Those Gujjars who rear goats and sheep are called Bakerwals. Gujjars and Bakerwals share same history, culture, language, sub castes and racial identity. Even all anthropological and genetic studies conducted on Gujjars-Bakerwals say that they are not separate identities in any ways. In 1991 the Gujjars-Bakerwals were granted Tribal status in Jammu and Kashmir after conducting a study. The study reveals that Bakerwal is another name of Gujjars entered in revenue records that's why both the names (Gujjars and Bakerwals) were included while the community was enlisted in tribal category in Indian constitutions. Bakerwals belong to the same ethnicity stock as the Gujjars, and inter-marriages freely take place among them”. There are a number of examples where one brother's name was entered in revenue record as Bakerwal and other's as Gujjar.[3]


'Bakarwal' is derived from the Indic language[4] terms, bakara[5] meaning goat or sheep, and wal[6] meaning "one who takes care of".[2] Essentially, the name "Bakarwal" implies "high-altitude goatherds/shepherds".


The Bakarwals belong to the same ethnicity as the Gujjars, and inter-marriages take place among them.[7] Bakarwals have clans (gotra) like Gujjars; however, "bakarwal" is also occasionally used indiscriminately to refer to any nomadic shephard group in the foothills, even those who may not belong to a Bakarwal community (qafila group). The Gadaria-Bakarwals have divided themselves into three principal kinship groups:

(i) The dera (household),
(ii) Dada-Potre (lineage),
(iii) the gotra (clan).


As sheep and goat rearing transhumants, the Bakarwal alternate with the seasons between high and low altitudes in the hills of the Himalayas.[2]

Legal status[edit]

In 1991 in Jammu and Kashmir the Bakarwal were first recognized as an Indian Scheduled Tribe. As of 2001, the Bakarwal were classified as a Scheduled Tribe under the Indian government's general reservation program of positive discrimination.[8]

They are mentioned in the Afghan National Anthem as one of the integral tribes present in Afghanistan.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Bamzai, Sandeep (6 August 2016). "Kashmir: No algorithm for Azadi". Observer Research Foundation. Archived from the original on 10 August 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Khatana, Ram Parshad (1992). Tribal Migration in Himalayan Frontiers: Study of Gujjar Bakarwal Transhumance Economy. Gurgaon, India: South Asia Books (Vintage Books). ISBN 978-81-85326-46-7.
  3. ^ "Don't get divided: TRCF to Gujjars-Bakerwals". Daily Excelsior, Jammu. 23 February 2015.
  4. ^ Compare: Gojri, Urdu, Punjabi, Kashmiri, Dogri, Jammu and Pashto language terms.
  5. ^ Sanskrit: बर्कर bakara
  6. ^ Sanskrit: पालक palaka "keeper"
  7. ^ Raha, Manish Kumar; Basu, Debashis (1994). "Ecology and Transhumance in the Himalaya". In Kapoor, Anuk K.; Kapoor, Satwanti (eds.). Ecology and Man in the Himalayas. New Delhi: M. D. Publications. pp. 33–48, pages 43–44. ISBN 978-81-85880-16-7. citing an unpublished paper by Negi, R. S. et al. "Socio-Economic Aspirations of Guijjara and Bakerwal"
  8. ^ "List of Scheduled Tribes". Census of India: Government of India. 7 March 2007. Archived from the original on 7 February 2013.