Amid fear and uncertainty, nomad Bakerwals cut short Kashmir migration

As government has asked Yatris and tourists to pack their bags and leave Kashmir amid massive troop deployment, the nomadic Bakerwal families camping in Srinagar outskirts are planning to cut short their annual migration and move to Jammu ahead of scheduled time.

Fear and uncertainty gripped Kashmir after government asked Amarnath Yatris and tourists to cut short their stay and leave valley as soon as possible.

Soon after the advisory, the tourists and yatris were seen leaving Kashmir and this created fear psychosis among the Bakerwal families who migrate to Kashmir in summers every year in hordes.

“A week ago we had heard from people here in Srinagar that something might happen after Eid, so we were already scared and thinking what to do if the law and order situation worsened in Kashmir,” said Khatoon – a Bakerwal woman who comes to Kashmir every year to escape from the harsh summer of the Jammu region.

“Yesterday I heard someone saying that situation has deteriorated, I rushed home and told my family about it and since then we are scared and want to leave Kashmir,” she said.

The unprecedented order by the government to curtail the Amarnath Yatra abruptly made people frenzy. The people started queuing up at petrol pumps, grocery shops, and ATMs to stock up on supplies speculating something adverse is afoot.

On Saturday also many non-local students studying in a Engineering College here in Srinagar left valley after administration asked them to leave.

Talib Poswal, a nomad who works as a mason in Srinagar, said, “I have two sons and after I heard that situation is bad, I packed their bags and sent them to Rajouri at my brother’s place. I am also planning to leave the city and go back to Jammu.”

Adding further, he said, “We heard that the situation is also not good in the Pir Panchal and Chenab Valley, but there we have an advantage that we have relatives there. If something happens we can take refuge in some relative’s house; but here we are alone, and this is the reason that we are scared.”

The situation in Kashmir has remained tense for the past few days after the centre ordered deployment of 100 companies of additional forces in the valley.

The deployment of the forces and various other orders leaked last week created alarm in the valley where people were apprehending some major decision in the offing regarding Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.

“We usually leave by November when winter arrives in Kashmir, but if the situation remains tense we will be forced to leave early,” said a group of Bakerwal women who were busy packing their belongings.