Shepherds fear threat from goons, leaving profession

Grazing grounds in Kangra and Hamirpur districts of Himachal are becoming unsafe for gaddis of the Holi region. Gaddis allege that their migratory route has become unsafe as several thefts are reported here.

Brahmanand, a pradhan from the Holi region, said some of his family members were looted this year by unidentified armed persons in the Fatehpur area of Kangra district, where they were camping with their sheep.

They said they threatened them with dire consequences and fled with 18 sheep.

“Not only this, my relatives were forced to load the sheep in their vehicle. Each sheep was worth Rs 5,000.”

“Generally the gaddis who migrate to the Dhauladhar range are afraid to approach the police and, hence, are forced to leave this traditional profession of rearing sheep by migrating across forests and grazing grounds in Himachal,” Brahmanand said.

Shamu, another gaddi, who is still following this traditional of rearing sheep and goats, had a similar complaint.

He said some goons targeted his sheep in Hamirpur district and fled with 10 of these. “I could not lodge a police complaint as I could not leave my sheep alone,” he said.

Most of the gaddis migrate to lower plains in Kangra and Hamirpur district during the winter months from December to February.him6

In summers they return home in the Bharmour and Holi regions of Chamba district after crossing high mountainous passes in the Dhauladhar ranges.

Due to power projects coming up in the tribal areas of Chamba district, several gaddis have left their traditional profession and taken to the construction business.

A section of influential gaddi community members have benefited from power projects and become prosperous. Several gaddis have also switched over to apple farming and jobs in government and private sectors. However, those residing in remote areas like Holi and Bharmour still practise this profession.