J&K: Fear palpable among migrant workers

Srinagar, Oct 18 : Fear is palpable among a small group of migrant workers as they wait for a train at Srinagar’s Nowgam station to escape the valley following a spate of killings of migrant workers by militants.
They were among a few dozen workers who quietly left for their homes today, although a vast majority of them have so far chosen to stay on.

“This has never happened even when the situation was worse,” said Satish Kumar in his late 40s and a resident of Bihar at railway station. “Non-locals workers in the worst violent days were never targeted. But now we are leaving Kashmir as killings of non-locals are happening almost every day. Everyone is terrified after these killings. I got many calls from family so I along with a few more living in Srinagar locality have decided to leave.”

This month 11 civilians have been killed by militants, five of them are migrant workers. The targeted killings have unleashed a new wave of tension among non-locals and minorities.
Another non-local who was leaving the valley said he has never felt so scared. “I have been coming to Kashmir for 40 years but never felt so scared. I saw pictures of those killed on mobiles and it has scared us and our families,” said another non-local accompanying Kumar.

Some of those who had reached the Tourist Reception Centre said they were leaving as the work season was over in Kashmir and the festival of Diwali was approaching.

“I am leaving to celebrate Diwali at home,” said a non-migrant worker.
Promodh Kumar, a carpenter from Uttar Pradesh said he was not going to shift due to the present situation.

“I have been living with complete harmony with locals and they have been protecting me. I can’t say what has triggered the latest spree of killing,” Kumar said.

During the peak of summer, according to estimates, there are nearly four lakh non-local labourers in Kashmir and nearly 50 percent among them are from Bihar. During summers, migrant labourers can be seen on various streets to fetch work.


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