A virtually non-existent party called United Jammu & Kashmir Forum (UJKF), on Tuesday literally hired labourers from Srinagar outskirts, bundled them into three vehicles, and drove them all the way to Press Enclave for a “protest”.
As the group leader known to labourers as Thekdar or contractor, reached Press Enclave, he distributed Press Releases for media consumption. Till that point everything seemed normal as Srinagar’s Press Enclave is frequented by all sorts of people who want to register their protests. But, one look at the “so-called” Press Release and media persons started exchanging glances amongst themselves. The labourers, who had been hired @ Rs 400 for two hours “job” had actually been brought to protest against Pakistan viz-a-viz Gilgit Baltistan.
The vehicle that carried the “coaxed” labourers to the press enclave Srinagar for the “protest”.
When someone from the crowd asked these labourers, do they know why they are here, they said, “We were asked we have to do some job in Srinagar.”
But none of them was aware about the Pakistan or Gilgit Baltistan angle. “We have no idea where Gilgit Baltistan is. Why would we want to protest against Pakistan,” said one of the agitated labourers.
As they learned about the “contractor’s” plan of “using them for his political ends”, they revolted.
It was quite a scene when around two dozen labourers, with visible fear in their eyes for associating them with an “anti-Pakistan” protest, asked the contractor to pay them. “Pay us for the time we had lost and we will go our way,” one of the labourers told the contractor who was brought here against his wishes.
As the argument became loud and as people started assembling around the group, the “contractor” – apparently a member of United Jammu & Kashmir Forum, saved his skin and vanished from the scene.