‘One after another, the bodies fell… I don’t know how I am alive’https://indianexpress.com/article/india/jk-jammu-kashmir-kulgam-bengal-labourers-killed-militant-attack-murshidabad-article-370-6095356/

‘One after another, the bodies fell… I don’t know how I am alive’

Jahiruddin, who married Paramita Bibi about two months ago, had left for Kashmir to work in the apple orchards and paddy fields during the ongoing harvest season (October-December).

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A soldier consoles migrant labourers in Kulgam. (Shuaib Masoodi)

WHEN THE burst of gunfire ended in Kulgam on Tuesday, Jahiruddin (25) was left for dead. But he lived to tell the story of his survival to his wife back home in Sagardighi, in Murshidabad.

Jahiruddin, who married Paramita Bibi about two months ago, had left for Kashmir to work in the apple orchards and paddy fields during the ongoing harvest season (October-December). But he, along with his fellow villagers, came in the crosshairs of militants on Tuesday — the sixth attack in a string of incidents targeting non-residents in South Kashmir after the Centre’s decision to scrap J&K’s special status under Article 370.

Jahiruddin was among the six labourers from West Bengal who were led out of their rented accommodation by militants in Kulgam district, and
sprayed with bullets. Five of them — Mursaleen Sheikh, Qamarudin Sheikh, Rafiq Sheikh, Nizamudin Sheikh and Rafique-ul-Sheikh, all from Sagardighi — died, and Jahiruddin was left for dead.

On Wednesday morning, he spoke to his wife and mother — from SMHS Hospital in Srinagar — and narrated the hours of dread that began around 8 pm on Tuesday. Paramita said Jahiruddin had suffered “bullet injuries on both his legs and in the right lung”. “I don’t know how he is now. He said he was in a lot of pain and couldn’t move,” she said.

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Speaking to The Indian Express, Jahiruddin said: “We were inside our room when a gunman came and asked all of us to come downstairs. Three more gunmen were waiting outside. We were taken to a nearby area and asked to stand in a line. Then they started firing at us. One after another, bodies started falling on ground. I don’t know how I am alive”.

“Accidentally, I was at the bottom of the pile of bodies. Only my leg was exposed,” he told his wife. The five who fell on top of him were killed.

Besides Jahiruddin and the five victims, at least three others from the area are also working in Kulgam. They were away at the time of the attack.

Nader Sarkar, whose brother Sader Sarkar was among those who were away, said he spent a sleepless night after coming to know about the attack. “We were in tension the whole night. In the morning, we spoke to Sader. We advised him to return to the village as early as possible. We can relax only when Sader returns home,” he said.