Hundreds of migrant workers flee, thousands moved to safer locations in Kashmir

A group of non local labourers gather at Railway Station as they wait for train in Nowgam, Srinagar to go back to their native places on Monday. -Excelsior/Shakeel
A group of non local labourers gather at Railway Station as they wait for train in Nowgam, Srinagar to go back to their native places on Monday. -Excelsior/Shakeel

Mobile internet shut down in parts of Kashmir

Fayaz Bukhari
SRINAGAR, Oct 18: Police today moved thousands of migrant workers to secure locations overnight with hundreds of them fleeing Kashmir after last night’s killing of two workers.
An official said that thousands of workers were moved to safer locations in almost all districts of Kashmir except Srinagar. He said that at least thousands of workers from the vulnerable areas were shifted last night after the killing of two workers from Bihar.

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These killings have led to fear among over 3-4 lakh workers who form the backbone of the workforce in Kashmir mainly in the construction and agriculture sectors. The official said that over 2000 workers have fled since last night.
Mohammad Salam, 32, from Bihar has been working here for the last six years but has never faced such a situation during all these years. He is afraid after the police shifted them to a secure location.
“We have seen worse times but were never targeted. This time we are afraid after killing of some workers. Last night police came to our rented accommodations in Dangiwachi area of Budgam district and brought us here”, he said.
Salam wants to go home as there is fear among workers. “We can’t sit idle here and will go back”, he said.

Non-locals leaving Anantnag on Monday. 	-Excelsior/Sajad Dar
Non-locals leaving Anantnag on Monday.
-Excelsior/Sajad Dar

Dinesh Panday, a hawker, has been working here in Kashmir for the last 40 years. He is now heading home after the recent killings along with 40 other workers.
“I have been a hawker for the last 40 years. I have seen the worst times here but was never afraid here as militants have never targeted workers. They were targeting police and Army but this is for the first time they are targeting hawkers and labourers that is why we are fleeing”, he said.
However, many who have established business here for the last many years want to stay back.
Mohammad Adnan, who runs a restaurant in North Kashmir that was started by his ailing father over two decades ago wants to stay back despite fear looming large.
“Why should we leave? We have been running the restaurant here for the last two decades through the worst times but nobody has hurt us. However, there is fear now after recent killings”, he said.
He said that locals fully support them and that is the main reason he wants to stay back and continue his business.
The moving of the workers to secure locations and their exodus was triggered by last evening’s killing of two migrant workers from Bihar. Police said that militants barged into the rented room and fired at them leaving two dead and one wounded.
In Kashmir, 11 civilians have been killed since October 6 by militants including five migrant workers in a recent wave of target killings.
Authorities today suspended mobile internet services in parts of Kashmir as a precautionary measure after the target killings. An official said that this is part of a massive crackdown launched against militants.
The areas where it has been suspended include Srinagar’s Anchar, Eidgah, Qamarwari, Soura, MR Gung, Nowhatta, Safa Kadal, Bagyass areas and Kulgam district’s Wanpoh, Qoimoh and Pulwama’s Litter areas.