In the aftermath of the killing of a non-local fruit dealer and a truck driver in south Kashmir’s Shopian district earlier this week by the militants, authorities have stopped the movement of trucks entering south Kashmir to load the apple boxes for time being.
Reports said more than 300 trucks are stranded near Dobjan in Shopian, 52 kms from here, for the last three days as authorities apprehend militants may target more non-local drivers.
A senior police officer said the decision to stop the trucks from entering Shopian was taken to prevent further causalities.”There is an apprehension that militants may target more non-locals in the area and keeping in view the movement of trucks to Shopian has been restricted,” he said and added several suspects have been detained by the police and are being questioned in connection with the recent attacks on non-locals in the area.
On Monday evening a driver from Rajasthan, identified as Shareef Khan was killed by the militants in Shopian while his truck was set ablaze when apple boxes were being loaded into the vehicles. Two days later a fruit dealer from Punjab identified as Chiranjeet Singh was killed by the militants in the same district while his associate was injured in the attack.
The incidents created a sense of fear among the fruits growers, dealers, and truckers, with few non-local truckers seen leaving the area without any loads. From early September militants have been warning fruit growers and traders to stop the trade or else face “dire consequences.”
Anand Mahajan, a truck driver from Kota, Rajasthan said he was had been roaming in south Kashmir from last one week to get his truck loaded “but now it seems I may have to return back empty.”
"Our families back home are concerned about our safety and some trucks are returning back without any load,” he added.
However, the situation has caused huge resentment among apple growers, who said they were being targeted by the militants for no sin of theirs. “Is growing apples and selling them a sin?” asked Sameer Ahmad, a grower from Shopian.
He said they have to export the apples to the outside state as they have received advance payments from the dealers in Delhi and other places. “We aren't doing something wrong or illegal for which we are being targeted. Even we are transporting our goods during the night hours and it’s unfortunate that we are still being targeted by the militants,” Ahmad rued.