Out of money and job, migrant workers leaving J&K in hordes amid restrictions in Valley
With no work, money and food, around 2,000 migrant labourers from Kashmir are in Jammu for taking trains to their homes in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Railway authorities in Jammu have arranged special trains to ferry around 3,000 people, who had started congregating in Udhampur and Jammu
As per the PRO, railways, about 2,375 passengers left by special train on Wednesday while 800 would have left by two special trains late on Thursday.
This comes as restrictions remain imposed in the Valley as a preventive measure.
Waiting for a train to Bihar, Mohammed Ajmal, who has been working as a labourer in Kashmir for 10 years, left Srinagar early on Thursday to reach Jammu with three others. Leaving for his village in Sitamarhi in Bihar, Ajmal said: “We were out of food. Everything that we had stocked, finished. Markets in Srinagar were shut, grocery shops in bylanes were closed. We could not find flour, rice or pulses.”
“Even though we were locked in our accommodation, we did not have trouble in the Valley.”
With no work, they were running out of cash as well, said Mohammed Zafarudin, also headed to Sitamarhi. “We thought leaving Kashmir was the best option. We called our families after reaching Jammu and they were also worried for us,” Zafarudin said.
Taxi drivers reap profits amid restrictions
The labourers are leaving the Valley in late hours or early in the morning when restrictions are relaxed. However, taxi operators are charging exorbitant fares in the absence of any checks, said Tapan, who was all set to leave for Murshidabad in West Bengal on Thursday.
Sanjay Mandal, who is from Murshidabad and was working in the Valley for over a year, said construction in the valley has come to halt, hence “we all are leaving.” “We will return once the normalcy is restored. It was difficult to move around in the wake of restrictions,” he said.
In a group of six is Shakeel Ahmed from Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh, who were working as labourers in Kashmir valley for six months. Ahmed said: “Last night we pooled in whatever cash was left and boarded a truck for Jammu. There were restriction along the highway and there were several chekpoints as well.”
Wasim, 60, who has been in the Valley for one year, said: “At one checkpoint in the Kashmir valley, security personnel inquired why we were going back. We were let off after brief inquiry,” he said.