Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday announced that the members of the Pahari community in Jammu and Kashmir will get benefits under the Scheduled Tribe quota, reported NDTV.

Shah said that the GD Sharma commission set up to look into the matter of reservation to the Paharis has recommended granting the quota, adding that the community will get benefits after legal procedure is completed.

If implemented, this will be the first time a linguistic group will get quota benefits in India. The Union government will have to amend the Reservations Act in Parliament to grant 10% reservation to the community in jobs and college admissions.

There are about 6 lakh Paharis in the Union Territory, of which 55% are Hindus and the rest are Muslims, according to NDTV.

Paharis have been demanding Scheduled Tribe quota that has been granted to Gujjar and Bakerwal communities in Jammu and Kashmir. All the three communities are settled in the backward terrain of Pir Panjal region, besides Anantnag and Baramulla districts.

The Gujjar and Bakerwal communities, however, have opposed granting 10% Scheduled Tribe quota to the Paharis. They argue that Paharis are not an ethnic group but a conglomerate of different religious and linguistic communities, according to The Indian Express.

On Tuesday, Shah said at a rally in Rajouri that some persons have been trying to instigate the Gujjars and Bakerwals against reservation for Paharis, saying that this will dilute their share, reported The Tribune.

However, Shah assured the members of the two communities that their reservation share will not be harmed.

The home minister made the announcement while kicking off the Bharatiya Janata Party’s campaign for Assembly elections in the Union Territory.

Elections are pending since the Centre abrogated Article 370 of the Indian Constitution by revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories on August 5, 2019.

On February 17, 2020, the government began the delimitation process – or redrawing boundaries – of Assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir. The delimitation commission submitted its report on May 5. Once the report is cleared, elections will be held in Jammu and Kashmir, which does not have an elected government since June 2018.