Neighbours of UP carpenter killed in Pulwama rushing back home

Residents said many of them had gone to the Valley in the past two years as earnings at home plunged following the pandemic and lockdown.

Migrant workers queue up for food at Jammu railway station on Tuesday. (PTI)

AS THE 55-year-old Sageer Ahmad, a carpenter killed by militants in Pulwama in Kashmir, was buried by his family at Sarai Hisamuddin in Saharanpur, relatives of other residents from the area employed in Kashmir are urging them to return.

Ahmad is survived by five children. His wife Nafisa died around six months back because of Covid, said local corporator and his neighbour Mansoor Badar.

Residents said many of them had gone to the Valley in the past two years as earnings at home plunged following the pandemic and lockdown. Ahmad had gone to Pulwama around two years back, after a friend convinced him about a job.

Ahmad was killed on Saturday by militants at his rented accommodation. Two people from Sarai Hisamuddin went to get his body.

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Migrant workers arrive at Srinagar station, preparing to leave the Valley. (Express photo by Deeptiman Tiwary)

At least five of Ahmad’s neighbours work in South Kashmir. Alam, 22, said: “My father Mohammad Mumtaz, 50, works as a tailor in south Kashmir. He went around three months ago, after our tailoring business got hit because of the coronavirus.” On frequent requests by his mother, Mumtaz was finally returning, Alam, who runs the family’s tailoring shop, said. With a large family to support, Alam said Mumtaz, who has seven sons and five daughters, had few options. “With the help of a few locals, he went to Kashmir.”

Shazia said her brother Mohammad Amir, 27, had returned to the Valley less than two months ago after coming on leave, and is rushing back now. Amir has been employed in Kashmir at a shop making wood products for two years. “When he was home, he told us the atmosphere and weather in Kashmir are good. He stayed two weeks here,” said Shazia, adding that after Ahmad’s killing, their mother had pleaded with him to return home.

Also on his way back is Mohammad Saleem, 55, another of Ahmad’s neighbours who works in south Kashmir. Another neighbour, Mohammad Naeem, said Saleem had gone to the Valley around two months back, as his wood business had been hit because of the pandemic. “Saleem’s wife has informed us he has left his job and is returning,” said Naeem.

Badar said another youth, Faisal, 28, will not be going back to the Valley to join work, and will look for something to do in Saharanpur. After working in Kashmir for the last year, he had returned home around a week back. Faisal, who lives a couple of houses down from Ahmad’s, also worked at a shop making wood products in Kashmir.

Faisal or his family could not be contacted.

‘Killings will scare people away’

Jammu: Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a major organisation of traders and industrialists across Jammu division, on Tuesday expressed concern over the spate of killings of migrant workers in Kashmir. Chamber of commerce president Arun Gupta condemned the killings, adding that such incidents act as bottlenecks in the way of speeding up economic activitie and scare away people. He appealed to the UT’s administration to take note of the worsening situation. —ENS

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