Coronavirus: Sans Food, Kashmir Workers Stranded In Himachal Want A Home Drive

SRINAGAR: As the lockdown is being extended, the crisis for the people stranded at other places is getting complicated. Demands are surging for helping the stranded get home especially after reports indicated that some of them are facing serious issues in managing their food.

A group of Kashmiri labourers at Dera in Himachal Pradesh scared by the Corona virus and keen to go home. A Tribune Photo

Reporting from Kangra in Himachal Pradesh, The Tribune reported that nearly 1000 labourers working with contractors in different parts of the district are desperate for transport facilities so that they can reach their homes in Kulgam.

Mohd Yousuf Lone, a resident Manzgam (Kulgam) told the newspaper that nearly 1,000 labourers of different ages were held up at different places at Dehra, Indora, Fatehpur, Jawali, Nurpur, Palampur and Thural in Kangra district. The report quoted him saying that the contractors, for whom they work, have not made any payment to them after the lockdown.

Coronavirus Impact: A group pf Kashmiri labourers living in a group somewhere in Himachal Pradesh. Photo: Internet

“He said that 300 persons were stuck at Dehra, 200 at Nurpur, 150 at Indora, 150 at Fatehpur, 150 at Palampur and Thural and 50 at Jawali,” the newspaper said. “These labourers are living in a single tent, thus violating the social distancing code, though, they said, they wanted to adhere to the norm. He alleged that these labourers don’t have any funds even for food.”

The newspaper quoted Lone alleging that the local authorities have not provided them with relief material either. They have sought Himachal government to transport them to Lakhanpur, the gateway of Jammu and Kashmir so that they will fend for themselves.

“Some of the labourers in their videos circulated in the social media have threatened that if they were not transported to Lakhanpur within two days they will be forced to leave for their destination on foot,” the report added.

A group of Kashmiris labourers sitting idle somewhere in Himachal Pradesh after the lockdown stopped their work. Photo: Internet

A number of Kashmiris working for various contractors and businesses are stuck in Himachal Pradesh. These people are living in small tents. Some labourers informed through social media that they had contacted their respective Deputy Commissioners in Kashmir but did not get a proper response. The administration in the host state has also been telling them to stay back without any help in food and other basic requirements. They are sitting idle since March 22.

There are people from other districts as well. One report said a group of 52 labourers are stranded at one place which include nine from Uri, 15 from Rafiabad and 25 from Kulgam.

Some of these labourers are implementing a power transmission group and are scattered in the region. In Panlyala village, in Bilaspur, all the labourers are from the same Noorabad village. They live in a small tent, together.

Even some nomadic Gujjar families are also stranded within the Himachal state forests. Last week, the Tribune reported that six Gujjar families stuck on the Himachal border are stuck in between.

Residents of Mukerian villages, the report said the stranded comprised around 30 members are now staying on the banks of Swan rivulet in Talwara block. Now they are being fed by the Radha Soami Satsang Ghar, Talwara. The Ghar is already taking care of 107 residents of Jammu and Kashmir by properly accommodating them.

Early last week, Himachal government sealed borders after reports that Kashmiri labourers in Kangra and Chamba were planning going home on foot after the media camping resulted in singling a particular community out. Most of these labourers are wood-cutters.

The crisis erupted after rumours spread that police was seeking to arrest some Tablighi Jamaat people who were allegedly hiding in the Khaniara belt. Though police denied it, it triggered serious insecurity. Immediately, however, the police erected nakas on Khrota road in Khaniara belt to check the movement of people in the area.

It was in response to reports, the Deputy Commissioner Kangra, Rakesh Prajapati, had told The Tribune that they will house all the 15000 migrant labourers suitably. Nobody knows if that has happened.

Coronavirus: A group of workers from Jammu and Kashmir implementing a power transmission line stuck deep in Himachal. Photo: Internet

It was in the midst of these reports that a Congress leader, Salman Nizami put a video on his twitter handle suggesting that a group of labourers was attacked last night. The labourers, mostly from Chenab and Pir Panchal valley were stranded in Pundo, Barote Himachal where they were attacked during last night. Police have registered the case but not many details are available.

One report said the police have arrested three persons and the injured labourers have been shifted to a safe place after the vehicle in which assailants had come has been seized.

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