Killing of non locals: Kashmir under grip of fear

Family members of labourers, who were shot dead by terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir's Kulgam, mourn as bodies of those killed arrive at their village in Murshidabad district of West Bengal, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019. (PTI Photo)

The killing of non-local labourers, truck drivers and apple traders in south Kashmir by the militants in the last two weeks has created a wave of fear and anger with outsiders fleeing the area.

The killing of six labourers from West Bengal on Tuesday evening in Kulgam district has forced non-locals to run away from Kashmir. The latest incident happened after a non-local apple trader, four drivers, and a labourer were killed in neighbouring Shopian, Anantnag and Pulwama districts in the last two weeks.

“The series of killings has prompted the non-locals to leave the Valley. The locals are also reluctant now to rent their buildings to the non-locals fearing they may also be targeted by the militants,” Farooq Ahmad, a resident of Kulgam told DH over phone.

He said as the sun starts waning, people (locals as well as non-locals) in the area confine themselves to their homes as they fear they too may be targeted. “Not only harvesting but construction activities too have been badly affected due to these killings,” Ahmad added.

After remaining shut for two months post abrogation of Article 370, life was limping back to normalcy in south Kashmir like other parts of the valley since early October with harvesting season at its peak. Truckers and labourers from outside Kashmir had started coming to south Kashmir for ferrying apple boxes.

However, as the militants started targeting non-locals since mid-October, fear has gripped the area with people afraid of resuming their normal activities.
“Militants through posters have warned people not to resume their normal work and apple trade has become the biggest causality of it. In several areas, apples are yet to be plucked from trees as people are afraid of venturing into orchards,” said a resident of Shopian.

He said that if the situation doesn’t improve in the next few days, a large quantity of apples may rot on trees itself.

“After the killing of truck drivers, the loading of apple boxes has abruptly declined in the last few days as authorities are not allowing non-local drivers to move freely in the area,” he added.

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