Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani's statement asking migrant labourers to leave Kashmir has caused an exodus of 35,000 people from the state, former Union Minister and BJP minority cell chief Syed Shahnawaz Hussain said on Monday.
Back from a trip to the state as leader of a BJP team to study the problem, Hussain said the exit of these people had not stopped despite a “clarification” from Geelani and Hizbul Mujahideen that their call pertained only to those “non-locals” who were engaged in criminal activities.
He said the BJP team met with Governor SJ Sinha and Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad but were surprised to find that the officials had put the number of people leaving the state following Geelani’s statement at 7,000.
Hussain said Azad shared his party’s concern that, without the labourers from other states, development projects would be hit.
"Non-Kashmiris are contributing to the development of the state but they have been forced to flee as the Centre and the state government had done nothing to reassure them and provide security," he said.
Hussain said Kashmiri pandits were forced out of the state in a similar manner and anti-national forces were at work in the state. "The talk of reducing troops in the state is a cause for great alarm."