Hundreds of non-local workers return from Kashmir with shattered dreams

Few cite ensuing winter season as reason; vow to return next summer
Hundreds of non-local workers return from Kashmir with shattered dreams
Although fear was the main factor which made them begin a painful journey back to their villages, many among the returnees claimed they were going back due to the onset of winter in Kashmir as it would be difficult for them to work in harsh weather conditions.Mir Imran for Greater Kashmir

Jammu: Shattered by recent selective killings in parts of Kashmir valley, hundreds of non-locals, who worked in construction, agricultural sector, ice-cream factories etc. there, have returned to Jammu in the last two days for their onward journey to their native places.

Although fear was the main factor which made them begin a painful journey back to their villages, many among the returnees claimed they were going back due to the onset of winter in Kashmir as it would be difficult for them to work in harsh weather conditions.

The workers from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Bihar and West Bengal even claimed that they would return to Kashmir next summer.

However, many of them clearly stated that they would not return. They said that escalating violence had worried their families back in their native villages.

The migrant/non-local labourers, belonging to different states of the country, had assembled in the parking areas of taxis at Jammu’s Railway Station with their families including children desperately waiting for trains.

A labourer, Rajesh Kumar, a resident of Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, along with eight other workers returned from Pulwama two days back after working there for three months.

“We worked with a contractor in Pulwama for three months. However, our return is not linked to any threat to our lives. The winter season is approaching and there is not much work there in the Valley. Therefore we have decided to return,” Kumar responded when asked if their return was due to the selective killings.

Though he did not admit yet his colleague Rama Shanker plainly answered, “Yes, fear was one of the factors. But winter too is approaching. Our families were also worried about our safety even though our contractor and his family were very nice to us. They provided us with shelter, food and a good environment to work. We were working comfortably.” “We do not know much about Srinagar’s killings,” he replied and added, “We may return in the summer season.”

He said they did not face any threat or danger to their lives. “People in Kashmir are very good,” he added. One among them asked him to tell this correspondent that they had “planned their return a month back and booked tickets for the purpose.”

An agricultural worker Ashok Kumar from Lakhimpur in Uttar Pradesh was not ready to speak much about Kashmir. “I was working in the agricultural fields in Pampore. The season is over and hence, we are returning to our villages,” he said. He, however, said that he was not likely to return to Kashmir next summer.

A group of six youth from Katihar (Bihar) said that they worked in Bijbehara as agricultural labourers and admitted that they were returning to Bihar due to fear.

“Our family panicked after the killing of civilians in Kashmir. However, we were safe. It was pressure from the family that we are returning,” Mohammed Parveez, resident of Katihar told Greater Kashmir.

Abdul Shakur, a resident of Banka district in Bihar, was among the people who were waiting for their train at Jammu Railway Station.

“I am an ice-cream maker. The season is over and therefore, I am returning,” Abdul Shakur responded. He did not admit that his return was linked to fear of selective killings.

He declined that they were returning due to fear. “We are 25 people and all of us are returning,” he said.

Among the returnees was a group of West Bengal’s agricultural workers who returned from Awantipora. “The situation is responsible to an extent,” a youth responded.

Anarul Haq from West Bengal’s Malda was also among the returnees. He was working in an orchard in Shopian.

“Our families are worried after watching news on channels about killings in Kashmir though we were working in a protected environment with support from the locals,” he responded.

Ankit Sharma was among the group of 16 youth from Haryana who worked in an apple orchard in the last three months.

“We had no work to do there after October 17 or 18, 2021. Only this is the reason we are returning. We had no threats,” he added.

The railway station is jam packed with the non-local labourers/workers and they were trying to procure rail tickets through ‘Tatkal’ to return to their respective states.

The selective killings had frightened many, but others were still hopeful of returning to Kashmir next summer.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Greater Kashmir
www.greaterkashmir.com