'Death is chasing me': J&K's migrant workers in dilemma

'Seems death is chasing me': Migrant workers in Kashmir in dilemma

While some of them have decided to leave Kashmir immediately, many others want to finish their pending work and settle the accounts before they leave

Security forces inspect the spot where militants shot dead a civilian in Srinagar. Credit: PTI File Photo

Amid fear in the wake of continuous attacks, thousands of migrant workers in Kashmir are in a dilemma as they are unsure what to do next.

While some of them have decided to leave Kashmir immediately, many others want to finish their pending work and settle the accounts before they leave.

Since the beginning of October five non-local workers, four of them non-Muslims and one Muslim, have been killed by militants in separate attacks in Srinagar and south Kashmir. Besides, three members of the minority community, including a renowned Kashmiri Pandit businessman, were also been shot dead by militants this month.

The spate of killings have not only sent shockwaves among members of minority communities in Kashmir, but non-local workers, majority of whom are Muslims, are also worried about their safety and security.

Also Read | Two migrant labourers shot dead in Kashmir

“We are in utter shock as we had never imagined that such a tragedy would befall us,” a group of migrant workers told DH, near Hawal, a four-way road stretch which is also called ‘Bihari Chowk’ in old city Srinagar.

Huddled together in groups, these workers were discussing the situation in Kashmir in the aftermath of civilian killings. “We are in a dilemma whether to leave the Valley immediately or stay back. There is no communication from the government as well. If we go back, we will have to face losses, if we stay back, there is every possibility we may be the next targets,” they rued.

Rajesh Kumar, from Bihar, who sells gol-gappas here for the past 15 years said that he had never seen such fear among migrant workers. “Even during the unrest of 2008, 2010, 2016 and post abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019, I continued to stay in Kashmir without any fear or problems. But since the last 10 days, every moment, it seems death is chasing me,” Kumar said amid palpable fear.

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The worried families of these migrant workers have been constantly calling them and urging them to return. “We travel hundreds of miles and come here to earn our livelihood so that we can feed our families and educate our children. But this cannot be at the cost of our lives,” Jameel, a mason from Uttar Pradesh, said.

A taxi stand office bearer in Srinagar said that a large number of non-local workers were boarding cabs in recent days to Jammu. “At the beginning of the month, 10-12 cabs were leaving for Jammu from Srinagar, but today all the cabs in our stand are plying and still there is more demand,” he said.

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