‘Our families want us back home safely’

‘Our families want us back home safely’
While some have decided to leave Kashmir immediately, many others want to finish their work before they leave. [File]GK Photo

Srinagar: Pankaj Kumar, a non-local labourer, who has been working in Kashmir for the last 20 years, is preparing to leave early for his native place Bihar where his family is worried about his safety and has asked him to come home.

A day after two non-local labourers were shot dead in Srinagar and Pulwama, many of the non-native workers said that they and their families were worried and want them back home safely.

At Hawal, a four way road stretch which is also called ‘Bihari Chowk’, non-local workers huddled together in groups were seen discussing the situation obtaining in Kashmir in the aftermath of civilian killings.

While some have decided to leave Kashmir immediately, many others want to finish their work before they leave.

“I have been selling golgappas here for the past two decades but never have I seen this fear among non-local workers,” Kumar who hails from Darbhanga district of Bihar, said.

Kumar has seen “even worse” situations in 2008, 2010, 2016 and post abrogation Article 370 time. “But I didn’t leave then. My family was staying here with me. Kashmiri brothers fed us during Corona time when we had nothing to eat as all businesses were shut,” he said. “But unfortunate the recent killings of non-local workers have sent shivers down my spine. My family has been constantly calling me since last night asking me to return home so I have decided to go back.”

Kumar is not alone to have planned to go back. There are scores of others whose families are worried and want them come home early. “We travel thousands of miles to come here for earning our livelihood so that we could feed our families and give education to our children. But this cannot be at the cost of our life,” Rajesh, a painter from Uttar Pradesh, said.

He added: “We have never been harmed by Kashmiris, but unknown gunmen are killing our brethren, which has forced us to decide to leave Kashmir early. We used to leave by November end, but now I have decided to leave by Friday.”

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