How to make both ends meet is a question that is haunting 28-year-old Jehangir, a small-time carpenter in Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur, after his father was shot dead by militants last Saturday in south Kashmir, triggering an exodus of migrant labourers from the area.
“Together with Abba (father), we used to run the household. Now I am wondering what to do as there is not much work over here and I can’t think of taking up his job over there (Kashmir),” Jehangir told PTI over the phone from Saharanpur.
His father Sageer Ansari was shot dead by militants in Litter village of south Kashmir on Saturday where he was working as a carpenter with a local unit for the last couple of years.
“We received a call that Sageer bhai is no more, and we were asked to collect his body from Jammu. We left that very moment and did the needful, and brought his body home,” said Naseem, the younger brother of the deceased.
He made it clear that the body was brought from Jammu to Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh by the family as the Jammu and Kashmir administration had not made any arrangements to send it.
“Together with my father, we used to manage an income of around Rs 15,000 per month, but now after his death, I have no idea how to pull the family together,” said Jehangir, who himself is married and has a small daughter.
Recalling his conversation with his father, he said Sageer was very happy working in Kashmir and often praised his employer who used his services for manufacturing bats and other wooden items.
However, the death of Sageer in Pulwama on October 16 and then two more non-locals — Raja Reshi Dev and Joginder Rishi Dev — in adjacent Kulgam on October 17 triggered a panic reaction among labourers from other states working in the volatile south Kashmir region.
The non-locals, engaged in apple orchards, and cardboard and bat factories, used to spend around six months in the Valley before returning home, an official said.
Another official from the security establishment claimed that around 600 people from south Kashmir have already moved towards safer places.
“Killing an unknown person creates more fear psychosis than killing a known individual, and I am afraid that the terrorists may have achieved that,” the official, who chose to remain anonymous, said.
Sooraj, a resident of Bihar working at a garment shop here, has already packed his bags and is leaving the Valley soon. “I have no idea as I used to earn my livelihood from the shop and my owner was also nice. However, now I am stepping into a bleak future ahead of me,” he said.
Javed, who is from Hapur in Ghaziabad and works at a saloon here, is also planning to leave. “Fear is in the air. My owner takes care of me but he can’t be with me 24 hours. My other friends working elsewhere have already moved out of the Valley. Unfortunately, I have to start something afresh,” he added. ( PTI )