Law College Dehradun, faculty of Uttaranchal University organized a Study Tour to the ‘Deras’ (residence of Van Gujjar) in Rajaji National Park near Mohand on 15th December 2017, with the aim of reaching the unreached and include the excluded. The team visiting the ‘deras’ included the Principal Investigator of the Study Prof.(Dr.) Rajesh Bahuguna (Principal-Law College Dehradun) along with other Investigators Prof.(Dr.) Poonam Rawat (Head-Department of Law, Law College Dehradun), Dr. Nivedita Mishra Thapliyal (Assistant Professor-Sociology), students of Law College Dehradun and Mr. Awdesh Sharma (an Expert from RLEK).
The study on social, legal and cultural factors affecting the life of Van Gujjars was carried out in two phases. The first phase of the visit was carried out in Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra, Dehradun in order to understand the background of the Van Gujjars and the second phase comprised of a trip to the ‘deras’ aiming towards interaction and collection of relevant information based on social, legal and cultural factors affecting the life of Van Gujjars. The interaction with the school children of the Van Gujjars in Mohand discovered that the knowledge and conduct promoted in the school was based on their culture and tradition.
The entire troop was divided into six groups as:
Group-1 – ( Dhyutisha Rawat, Satyajit Gupta, Rohan Aggarwal, Shashank Pant, Suvighya Saxena )
Group-2 – ( Abhishek Sharma, Stuti Rana, Anushree, Nimisha, Vaishali )
Group-3 – ( Suman Raj, Ritik Raj, Tanya Agarwal, Tanishqua, Vanishka )
Group-4 – ( Udit Tomar, Garima Sharma, Pranjali Tomar, Kanchan Yadav, Vandana )
Group-5 – ( Jagruk Purwar, Rahul Kumar, Naitik Bhatt, Vartika, Nitish )
Group-6 – ( Mohammed Salik, Rajat Gaur, Vibhanshu, Prasiddhi, Lovinder )
The research revealed the fact that Gujjars have a profound knowledge of forest and wildlife and are closely associated with nature. They never settle at one place but remain in plain areas for six months and on hills for the rest of the six months. Van Gujjars are the major source of Dairy Milk Products in fulfilling the requirements of pilgrims visiting the Char Dhams in Uttarakhand. Some astonishing facts observed during the research were that the Van Gujjars are Muslim by religion but their Gotras and Sub-Castes are similar to that of Hindus, these people are vegetarians in majority and the ladies of this community do not wear veils, their residence does not have doors, they themselves along with their domestic animals and other wild animals drink water from the same Pond made by Van Gujjars. In short, these tribal people lead a life that is close to nature.