The string of attacks against migrant workers and local residents in the Kashmir Valley continued Sunday with suspected militants gunning down two labourers from Bihar, and injuring a third from the state, in South Kashmir. The latest attack comes a day after unidentified gunmen shot a street vendor from Bihar in Srinagar and a carpenter from UP in Pulwama.
In a tweet on Sunday’s attack, J&K police said: “Terrorists fired indiscriminately upon non local labourers at Wanpoh area of Kulgam. In this terror incident, two non-locals were killed and one (was) injured. Police and security forces (have) cordoned off the area.”
The attack took place at Ganjipora village, and police sources identified the victims as Raja Reshi and Joginder Reshi, and the injured labourer as Chun Chun Reshi — all of them from Bihar. The injured labourer, who was hit on his arm and back, was rushed to the Government Medical College in Anantnag, sources said.
Sunday’s attack also led to contradicting versions from within the J&K police establishment on a purported note signed by SSP Police Control Room (PCR) Kashmir “for IGP Kashmir”. It stated: “All non local labourers in your respective jurisdictions be brought to nearest police/ CAPF/ Army establishments/ camps just now. Matter is most urgent.”
When contacted by The Indian Express, IGP (Kashmir) Vijay Kumar termed the note as “fake”. The SSP PCR Kashmir, Zubair Khan, could not be reached for comment. However, two district-level J&K police officers and a senior CRPF officer in the Valley told The Indian Express that they had received the note.
The district-level officer said: “We received the advisory and have started to shift the non-locals. But it is almost impossible to secure all of them as they live in every part of the district, including far-off areas where there is little or no police presence.”
According to estimates, 3-4 lakh labourers from outside J&K travel to the Valley every year for work. While most of them leave before the onset of winter, some stay in Kashmir through the year.
The other district-level officer told The Indian Express that it would not be possible to provide secure accommodation to all the migrant workers in the Valley because of the sheer numbers involved. “The season is almost coming to an end and the easy way out is to facilitate their safe return home. You can put them together in safe locations but it is not possible to provide security to all of them when they leave for work during the day.”
In Delhi, sources in the Union Home Ministry would not comment on the veracity of the note but said that the move mentioned in it had been discussed within the security establishment. “The Valley is flush with labourers from outside due to the apple season. It will be very difficult to provide security to all of them spread across North and South Kashmir until the entire network targeting them is neutralised,” an official said.
Over the past two weeks, nine civilians have been killed in the Valley in eight separate attacks by suspected militants. Other than migrant workers from UP and Bihar, the victims include a school principal in Srinagar and a teacher in her school who hails from Jammu, a prominent businessman in Srinagar and a local taxi operator in Bandipora.
Mainstream political parties in the Valley have condemned the killings.
National Conference president Farooq Abdullah described Sunday’s killings as “unfortunate” and a “conspiracy to defame Kashmiris”. PDP president Mehbooba Mufti tweeted that “there are no words strong enough to condemn the repeated barbaric attacks on innocent civilians”.
Apni Party chief Altaf Bukhari asked the administration to “ramp up investigations” and trace those behind the killings. J&K Congress chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir “strongly” condemned the killings while Peoples Conference leader Imran Raza Anasari said the administration and the people should work together to “ensure safety and security” for migrant workers.
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