Seasonal Worker Killings Condemned Across Party Lines

SRINAGAR: The selective killing of non-local workers drew widespread condemnation from political parties, politicians and leaders. It is being seen as a conspiracy to defame Kashmir.

In separate incidents, at least five non-local workers were killed in Kashmir. These included two in Wanpoh area of Kulgam on Sunday where one survived injured.

The lockdown threw life haywire as all the economic activities came to a grinding halt. In Aalmgiri Bazaar that has a huge cluster of seasonal labour, the locality started offering rations and basic necessities in April 2020. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur.

Former Chief Minister and president of the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (JKNC), Dr Farooq Abdullah termed these attacks as a conspiracy to defame Kashmiris. He said, “These killings are unfortunate and done under a conspiracy. Kashmiris are not involved in these killings. It is an attempt to defame Kashmiris.”

Expressing sympathies with the bereaved, Dr Farooq said, “I condemn the attack in strongest possible terms. Violence in all its forms and manifestations brings countless miseries to people. I express my unison within the bereaved family; pray for strength to bear this inconsolable loss.”

While denouncing the attack Omar Abdullah said, “I condemn this heinous and despicable act of violence. The vicious circle of violence must stop now. The perpetrators of the attack must be held accountable and be brought to justice.”

Lt Governor Manoj Sinha while taking to the microblogging site Twitter condemned the attack on non-local civilians in Kulgam. Terming the attack as “despicable”, he tweeted, “I strongly condemn the despicable terror attack on Civilians in Kulgam. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families. I pray for the speedy recovery of injured. Our security force will give a befitting reply to terrorists. J&K govt stand by the families in this time of grief.”

A group of non-local workers waiting for vehicles to reach home. The intense cold and a series of killings were key to their early return on October 18, 2021. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

President, People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mehbooba Mufti said that no words are strong enough to condemn the repeated barbaric attacks on innocent civilians.

“My heart goes out to their families because they leave the comforts of their homes to earn a dignified livelihood. Terribly sad,” she tweeted.

CPI (M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami termed the killing of non-local labourers in Kulgam as “unfortunate”.

“Killing innocent labourers who have come here to earn their livelihood is a heinous crime. This is aimed at targeting the interests of people of Kashmir and this is happening at a time when the harvesting season is at its peak,” he said in a statement. “Mere condemnation is not enough. It is time for all of us to come forward and unitedly raise our voice against these criminals who are committing such heinous crimes. We appeal the civil society, political parties irrespective of their political agenda to raise their voice against such barbaric acts.”

Apni Party President Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari expressed “deep shock and grief over the killing of two non-local labourers.”

“This senseless carnage is highly reprehensible which has no place in a civilized society. Just after a day when two labourers were killed in Srinagar and Pulwama, this heart-wrenching incident from Kulgam has once again sent waves of fear and panic among the non-local residents,” he said in a statement. “These vicious forces who desire to disturb peace in J&K actually live on fear-mongering. There exists no legitimacy for this outrageous killing spree where innocent, defenceless labourers are target killed. Apni Party strongly condemns these shameful & inhumane attacks as these brutal forces have no respect for the sanctity of life.”

The attacks also drew reaction from the Bihar Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar. He dialled the LG Sinha and expressed concern over the killings,” the statement further read.

Kumar also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the next of kin of the deceased persons.

Former Chief Minister of Bihar, Jitin Ram Manjhi while lashing out at the killings tweeted, saying that if the situation in Kashmir cannot be changed, then Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah should hand over Kashmir to Biharis. They would improve the situation in 15 days.

In Jammu, BJP Jammu and Kashmir president, Ravinder Singh Raina said the conspiracy was hatched in Pakistan. “Cowardly Pakistani terrorists have once again committed a grave crime by killing labourers who come to Kashmir to earn their livelihood. The conspiracy to target poor labourers was hatched by Pakistan to create a fear among the people,” Raina was quoted saying. “None of the terrorists will be spared. The BJP-led government has carried out strong action against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism, breaking its backbone in the valley with back-to-back successful operations by security forces.” He further added: “”They will have to pay a heavy price for their crimes against humanity. The accounts will be settled with interest.”

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