Anantnag: Murari, a mason along with his five coworkers is busy working at an under-construction house in Anchidora locality of Anantnag town.
Hailing from Bihar he has been working in Kashmir for the past two decades and returns home at the onset of winters contented with what he earns.
Murari and his group are among several non-local seasonal workers who decided against leaving Kashmir following a spate of civilian killings.
“We do plasterwork and usually leave for home at November end. The killings did create a sense of fear among us but the moral support we got from the locals persuaded us to stay back,” he said.
Murari is in awe of the warmth and generosity he has received in Kashmir.
“Never ever during our 20 years of stay here did we feel unsafe. We were here even during the peak of militancy in the year 2000 and subsequently during the summer unrests of 2008, 2009, and 2016,” said Murari, who along with a dozen odd non-locals put up in rented accommodation here.
He said that the locals would also ensure that they had all the essentials and food to eat during prolonged shutdowns and curfews.
“The place we live is home to many non-local labourers and providing succour to us has always been the priority of our local Muslim brethren,” Murari said.
He said that the owner of the house they were working on right now even offered them to stay at his house.
“People here value our work and I take a good amount home. So, we will only go home by December like we do every year and God willing will come back again next year,” he said.
Tonu Kumar from Bihar, a known plumber in Anantnag town along with his associates is also among those who decided to stay back.
Kumar, putting up in a rented accommodation at JanglatMandi locality, has been working here for the past 15 years.
“I have work pending at several places and will leave once I finish it. There is no reason for us to take any decision in a jiffy,” he said.
Kumar said that he cannot forget the September 2014 deluge when locals not only rescued them but provided shelter, clothing and food for so many days.
“Yes, we can understand the panic and fear among the non-local laborers, particularly those who have not been here for long. However, for those who know the place well, there is a feeling that things will soon be back to normal,” said Kumar.
Sahir and Murad from Bihar and UP are also busy in stitching and embroidery work at a local boutique.
The duo has been working here for the past five years and been provided accommodation by their owner at his residence.
“Our owner treats us like his own kids. We live and eat with the family. Yes, back home our family was initially worried but after repeated calls and assurance from our owner and also after listening to us, they are at ease now,” they said.