‘No one harmed or harassed us’
As Kashmiri people found themselves at the receiving end of violence and threats in many Indian cities, not a single case of anyone being threatened came to fore as people from those places working and living in Kashmir felt safe.
Kashmiri students and businessmen alike faced violence and threats in many Indian cities and towns following the Thursday car-bombing in Pulwama that left more than 40 paramilitary troopers dead.
Vikram, a street vendor from Bihar who sells popcorns from in the crowded Goni Khan area here said he feared the same fate as that of some Kashmiri people who were threatened and beaten up.
“We are five people living in one room. All of us are street vendors. As we were getting calls from family that tension is escalating in entire India and Kashmiris are on target, we sat in our room for two days,” Vikram said.
“An elderly man who has a shop in Goni Khan noticed that we are scared and are not coming out. He came to our room and said, ‘no one will dare to touch you. You are our guests here’ and after that we resumed our daily work.”
Prasad, a shoemaker from Haryana who has been working in Kashmir for nine years, said, “I am ashamed how madly our country is behaving. But this is all politics. Though in my village in Haryana no Kashmiri was harmed, but still it’s shameful. No Kashmiri even touched us here.”
While narrating an incident, Prasad who lives in a slum area of Lasjan said, “My family is also here – wife and two children. We were feeling cold yesterday and one of the neighbours who live in a three storey house saw that. He gave me some clothes and kerosene to burn the firewood and warm ourselves. Isn’t this slap on those goons who harass Kashmiris?”
Closer home for people of Kashmir valley, in Jammu fear can be gauged by the fact that Jammu Muslim Waqf Council has closed its doors for the Kashmiris who are facing attacks in the city.
In Nowhatta area of downtown, a toy seller near Jamia Majid said, “Recently some boys came and shot my video wherein they were asking me ‘Has any Kashmiri harassed you ever? And I gave them a detailed interview saying, Kashmir is like a second home. I also told them that during the unrest of 2016 no one harmed us.”