Kulgam murder: Won't send our men to J&K, say villagers

Villagers gather as bodies of five labourers, who were killed in a militant attack in south Kashmir's Kulgam district, are brought at Bahelnagar village in Murshidabad district of West Bengal on Thursday. (PTI Photo)

Taken aback by the ghastly killing of five men from the village by terrorists in Jammu & Kashmir, the residents of Bahal Nagar in Murshidabad district have vowed not to send back their men to Kashmir till the situation normalises in the valley.

Noimuddin Sheikh, Mursalim Sheikh, Rofik Sheikh, Kamruddin Sheikh and Rofikul Sheikh, who used to work at apple gardens in Kulgam district of south Kashmir, were shot dead by the terrorists in the valley on Tuesday night. The bodies of the five arrived at their hometown in Murshidabad district this morning. Another labourer Jahiruddin Sheikh, who was injured and nourishing his wound in a hospital in Kashmir, got married merely two months back.

All the six labourers were resident of Bahal Nagar village in Sagardighi area of West Bengal's Murshidabad district. Murshidabad is over 200 km from Kolkata near Bangladesh border.

The Bahal Nagar village has been a regular supplier of labourers to the trouble-torn valley for the last two decades, but never ever they faced any problem there.

"We still can't believe that Noimuddin, Mursalim have been killed. They are our next door neighbours. Two of my sons also work in Kashmir. They came back last week. I myself has worked in Kashmir for 10-15 years, we never faced such a situation. "I have asked my sons not to go back (to Kashmir) and look for job in the district or in Kolkata," 60 year-old Nasiruddin Ali, who himself used to work in apple gardens in the valley, said.

Ali said every year during July-August, men of various age groups go to the valley to work as labourers and return after October. The apple season in Kashmir starts in the second week of August and peaks in September-October. "My son is still in Kashmir. He works as a construction worker. I spoke to him last night over phone. I had asked him to come back immediately and find some work here. We don't need more money. If something happens to my son what will I do?" an aged Fatima said. Another elderly asked fellow villagers not to go to violence-prone Kashmir for work.

Critically injured Jahiruddin Sheikh's, wife - Paramita- is praying that her husband come back home safely.

"I just hope that my husband will come back safely. I want the government to ensure that my husband comes back home safely. Once he is back, I will never ever allow him to go back to Kashmir to work," Paramita said.

There are families, who are yet to get in touch with their men working in various parts of Kashmir.

Roshni Bibi, said she has been unable to connect her husband for the last 10 days.

"After the news of the killing reached the village, all of us couldn't sleep as I am unable to connect with my husband Rabiul for the last 10 days. His mobile phone is unreachable. We have tried to connect the labour contractor. But, till now there have been no positive response," Roshni Bibi said.

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