SRINAGAR: Migrant workers have become a prime force that drives Kashmir’s economy and development, according to the latest report. People in Kashmir prefer to hire them as they are readily available.
However, migrant labourers fell prey to the bullets of Pakistan-sponsored terrorists in recent times, as many attempts were made to push them out of Kashmir by intimidating them. Despite the threat looming large over their lives, these brave men and women held their ground and didn’t succumb to pressure. They were supported by the locals and the security forces as per a report.
The Census data of the year 2001 reported 86,768 migrants in Kashmir from other states and as per the 2011 census, there were 2,83,0930 in Kashmir and during the past decade, their number has swelled.
Every year more than 3 million migrant workers travel to Kashmir in search of informal jobs and do get employed in one or other sectors. The workforce that arrives from places like Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and other regions comprises skilled and unskilled labourers.
They work in homes, fields, brick kilns and other places. They are found everywhere and have become an integral, indispensable part of Kashmir’s work culture. They work as masons, carpenters, waiters, barbers and street vendors. During the past few years, migrant workers have ventured into the fields that were exclusive to the locals of Kashmir.
They have learnt traditional wooden work in Kashmir homes known as Khatamband and making embroidery on garments. The migrant labourers prefer Kashmir over other places due to many reasons like climate suits them, the cost of living is cheap and people readily employ them for menial jobs.
Most of them arrive in Kashmir with the advent of spring and leave as soon as autumn sets in. Many of them have turned Kashmir into their home and stayed back even in harsh winter conditions as they find work even during chilly conditions.
This rosy picture has stains of blood on it as well. According to a recent statement by the Government of India, 28 migrant workers have been killed in terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir since 2017.
In October 2021, terrorists went on a killing spree, carrying out cold-blooded murders of members of minority communities. Of 11 civilians, shot dead by the terrorists, five were non-local labourers. The killings created fear and panic and led to non-locals leaving Kashmir in a huff.
Terrorists at the behest of Pakistan tried to recreate a 1990s-like situation when selective killings of Kashmiri Pandits were carried out and the entire community was forced to leave everything behind and run away, according to the report.
When a migrant labourer Satish Singh (Rajput) was shot dead by terrorists in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district on April 13, 2022, hundreds of Muslims came out of their homes, got together and performed his last rites.
They deplored his barbaric killing. Similarly, after terrorists murdered Bal Krishan Bhat, a Kashmiri Pandit, in Chotigam area of South Kashmir’s Shopian district, Muslims in large numbers participated in his last rites and denounced the senseless act of terror.
After the terrorists carried out selective killings of non-locals and Kashmiri Pandits in October 2021, the security forces acted swiftly.
The killers were identified, tracked and eliminated. Within no time a sense of security returned to Kashmir and by the time spring arrived in 2022, the migrant workers returned to Kashmir and picked up the threads from where they had left.
This year terrorists made attempts to target the non-local labourers as well, irrespective of them being Hindus or Muslims but their moves were thwarted by the Jammu & Kashmir Police along with other security forces and their attempts were foiled.
After 2019, the J&K government has pushed for providing insurance cover to non-local workers and has been taking care of their financial and societal needs, as per the report.
The steps taken by the government have inculcated a sense of security among the migrant workers. They don’t fear the terrorists anymore.
These workers are aware of the fact that it’s just a handful of elements who don’t want them to stay in Kashmir but the majority of the people support them by providing them with work and respect.
On the other hand, people of Kashmir are aware of the fact that the strong workforce of non-locals that is spread across the length and breadth of the Valley has become a part and parcel of their daily chores, businesses and construction projects. If they leave, many projects will come to a grinding halt.
Peeping into the past 30 years of Pakistan-sponsored turmoil reveals that there has been no major attack on non-locals or on minorities living in Kashmir by locals.
Whenever terrorists kill any innocents, locals express their pain, anguish and grief as they are aware that these people come to the Valley with only one purpose and i.e. to earn their livelihood.
Pakistan-sponsored terrorists are finding no support as the locals have turned their backs towards them as per the report.
Despite Pakistan and its stooges being active in Kashmir, making all out efforts to create a wedge between locals and non-locals and making every attempt to label every Kashmiri as a terrorist, people across the country have exhibited maturity and patience. They have not reacted to the killings of non-locals and haven’t brought any harm to the Kashmiris in other states as they too are aware that people from the Valley visit other states in search of their livelihoods. (ANI)