World

India moves thousands of migrant workers in Kashmir to secure locations after targeted attacks

October 19, 2021
One of the migrant workers said police picked him up, along with others, from rented accommodation on Sunday night and moved them to a protected area.
One of the migrant workers said police picked him up, along with others, from rented accommodation on Sunday night and moved them to a protected area.

SRINAGAR — Indian authorities have moved thousands of migrant workers in Kashmir to safer locations, while hundreds have fled the Himalayan valley after a wave of targeted killings, security officials said on Monday.

Suspected militants have killed 11 civilians, including five migrant workers, in Kashmir since early October despite a widespread security crackdown in the heavily militarized region.

While the trigger for the latest wave of attacks was not immediately clear, Kashmir has been the site of armed insurgency against New Delhi for decades. Kashmir is claimed in full by India and Pakistan but ruled in parts by both.

“We moved thousands of workers to secure places and are facilitating their return home,” a senior police official said, declining to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

In other areas, security forces had intensified patrolling to prevent any militant activity, the official added.

A government spokesman in Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar declined to comment on the movement of migrant workers.

The decision to move workers came after an attack on migrant laborers from Bihar on Sunday.

Two Bihari laborers were shot in the southern Wanpoh area of Kashmir valley. A third was critically injured, police said.

The killings came a day after a street vendor and a laborer, also from Bihar, were killed in separate shootings. One was Muslim, the other was Hindu.

No group has immediately claimed responsibility for the four deaths, which have sent shock waves through minority communities in the region.

Kashmir has gone through various bouts of violence over the years, but the latest wave of attacks appears to be targeted toward non-Kashmiris, including migrant workers, and members of the minority Hindu and Sikh communities in the Muslim-majority valley.

The hundreds of thousands of migrant workers currently in Kashmir form the backbone of the region's workforce in agriculture and construction.

Some of them said they now fear for their lives.

"We have seen worse times, but were never targeted. This time, we are afraid," said Mohammed Salam, 32, originally from Bihar, who has worked in Kashmir for the past six years.

Salam said police picked him up, along with others, from rented accommodation on Sunday night and moved them to a protected area.

"We can't sit idle here," he said, "We will go back."

Tensions have risen in Kashmir since August 2019 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government scrapped the region’s semi-autonomy and brought it under New Delhi’s direct rule.

This was accompanied by a huge security operation and communications blackout with tens of thousands of extra soldiers joining the estimated half a million already on the ground.

Meanwhile, deadly clashes between insurgents and government forces have claimed roughly 30 lives – including soldiers and rebels – in the past two weeks.

Police said five TRF militants have been killed since last week, including two on Saturday.

Two soldiers died in a firefight near the ceasefire line between India- and Pakistan-controlled Kashmir on Saturday, the military said. — Agencies


October 19, 2021
730 views
HIGHLIGHTS
World
10 hours ago

Workers with HIV-AIDS continue to face stigma, discrimination: ILO

World
10 hours ago

Series of appalling deadly attacks on displaced people in DR Congo

World
10 hours ago

COVID-19: WHO’s Tedros criticizes ‘blunt’ Omicron measures

X