Business Standard

Families of Bengal labourers killed in J&K says they were


Press Trust of India Bahal Nagar (WB)
The family members of the labourers, who were gunned down by terrorists Tuesday night in Kashmir, said on Wednesday their men were threatened regularly by the terror groups to leave the valley as they were "non-Kashmiris".
The families are yet to come to terms with the fact that their dear ones, who had promised to come back home later this week, won't ever come.
Noimuddin Sheikh, Mursalim Sheikh, Rofik Sheikh, Kamruddin Sheikh and Rofikul Sheikh, who used to work at apple gardens in Kulgam district of south Kashmir, were shot dead by the terrorists on Tuesday night.
Another labourer Jahiruddin Sheikh, who was injured and has been shifted to a hospital in Kashmir, got married merely two months back.
All the six labourers were resident of Bahal Nagar village in Sagardighi area of West Bengal's Murshidabad district.
Murshidabad is over 200 km from Kolkata near Bangladesh border.
A Bengali news channel in Kolkata showed injured Jahiruddin as saying the terrorists came to their house Tuesday evening and took all the six with them.
"They took us to an isolated spot and then opened fire on us. I somehow escaped after being shot at," the news channel showed him telling about the incident.
Every year during August the labourers used to go to the valley to work and return after October.
The apple season in Kashmir starts in the second week of August and peaks in September-October.
Noimuddin's father Jaris Sheikh, who himself works as a labourer in an apple garden in Kashmir, said his son and other workers were regularly getting threat calls from the terrorists asking them to leave the valley.
"My son and others were regularly getting threat calls from some terror groups. They were telling to leave the valley as we are non-Kashmiris and eating into jobs of the Kashmiris. I decided to come back and returned yesterday. My son was suppose to return on Thursday as he was yet to get his payment," Jaris Sheikh told reporters.
"When I was returning on Monday, I never though I would be seeing my son for the last time", an inconsolable Jaris said.
Aminirul, Kamruddin Sheikh's elder brother, said last week when he had spoken to his brother, he said he would be coming back home after Diwali and stay back in the village.
"Kamruddin has been working in Kashmir for the last several years. But, this time when we last spoke he had told me that he won't be going back to the valley as the situation is not good and they are being continuously asked to leave," Aminirul said.
Critically injured Jahiruddin Sheikh's wife- Paramita- hoped her husband will come back home safely.
"I just hope that my husband will come back safely. I want the government to ensure that my husband comes back home safely. Once he is back, I will never ever allow him to go back to Kashmir to work," Paramita said.
According to the locals of Bahal Nagar, several youths of the village have been working as migrant labourers either in apple gardens or construction sites of Kashmir for the past 20 years.
Although five labourers have been killed and one injured, there are families, who are yet to get in touch with their men working in various parts of Kashmir.
Roshni Bibi, said she has been unable to connect her husband for the last 10 days.
"After the news of the killing reached the village, all of us couldn't sleep as I am unable to connect with my husband Rabiul for the last 10 days. His mobile phone is unreachable. We have tried to connect the labour contractor. But, till now there have been no positive response," Roshni Bibi said.

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First Published: Oct 30 2019 | 6:05 PM IST

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