Migrant labourer killed by militants in Kashmir

Reports said the labourer from Chattisgarh was shot dead by militants in Nihama, Pulwama

A migrant labourer was shot dead by unidentified militants in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Wednesday, barely two days after a non-local truck driver was murdered in neighboring Shopian district by the ultras. 

Reports said the labourer from Chattisgarh was shot dead by militants in Nihama, Pulwama, 26 kms from here, at around 1:30 pm on Wednesday. While the police refrained from revealing the name of the victim, sources identified him as Shetty Basu, who was working as a labourer in a brick-kiln.

Basu had apparently stayed put at his job due to financial constraints, even after the government had asked to all non-locals to exit the Valley before it struck down the special status of J&K under Article 370 on August 5.

Following the Centre's decision to abrogate Article 370, posters appeared in several parts of Kashmir, asking the non-local labourers to leave the Valley or “face consequences.”

This was the second such incident in the Valley after the authorities announced restoration of post-paid mobile phones on August 14. On Monday evening, a driver of an apple truck was killed and an orchard owner was assaulted in Sindhu-Shirmal village of Shopian district, apparently in an attempt to dissuade people from resuming trade activities and normal life. 

The slain driver, identified as Sharif Khan, hailed from Rajasthan. The police suspect that two militants were responsible for the truck driver's killing, one of whom was a Pakistani national.

The police said that the militants carried out the attack to disrupt the transportation of fruits, which has picked up in the Valley since the onset of the apple harvest season. Militant organizations have been issuing threats to apple growers and traders since last more than a month not to resume their activities. 

However, despite threats and attacks, fruit harvesting seasons is at its peak in the Valley these days with hundreds of trucks laden with apple boxes leaving Kashmir every day to outside state markets. Even some of the non-local labourers, who had left Kashmir in August are returning. 

Kashmir’s economy is intricately linked with the non-migrant workforce working in Kashmir despite years of turmoil and violence. A few lakh of non-migrant construction workers, vendors and labourers come to Kashmir to earn their livelihood. They are also hired during the season of sowing and harvesting of crops.

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