Like him, scores of migrant labourers and their families have fled the Valley, saying they have experienced “hell’’ in the last couple of weeks after terrorists carried out targeted killings of 11 non-locals. Many said they may not ever come back to Kashmir after the ordeal.
Ajay Kumar of Besangoan, Bihar, who fled along with his wife Sarita and two kids from a brick kiln at Pulwama in South Kashmir and reached Jammu railway station, wept bitterly saying his employer refused to pay Rs 27,000 in pending wages.
Several others had the same complaint and appealed to authorities to intervene. “I am very unhappy leaving the valley. This has become hell. We come here to earn for our families not to get killed on streets,” said Chintu Singh, who had been working for four-five months every year in the Valley for over a decade now.
“I brought this gift (cricket bat) from Kashmir for a friend’s children. It is the last gift from Kashmir. I will not come to Kashmir again to earn livelihood. The situation is very bad due to fear and terror there (as result of killings)”, said Singh, who fled along with a group of 20 Hindu labourers working in a brick kiln in Pulwama district. Thousands of labourers, mostly Hindus and some Muslims, from different states arrived at railway stations and bus stands in Jammu and Udhampur after leaving the Valley.
While some labourers said that their wages were paid, there were others who complained that they were driven out by employers in the valley forcibly without their wages. Chunni Devi from Jharkhand, who reached Jammu railway station, said, “We came to Kashmir after getting to know it is paradise of earth. But it is not paradise. It is hell.”