As migrant laborers are forced to flee from Kashmir following the recent spate of violence against them in the union territory, it comes to light how the concept of ‘Kashmiriyat’ like that of ‘idea of India’ and ‘Aman ki Asha’ is nothing but a hollow concept promoted by vested interests.
Exodus of migrant laborers from Kashmir
The migrant workers fleeing from Kashmir narrated their plight where they were forced out of their homes past midnight. One of the laborers from a group of eight people who were staying together said that there were people knocking on their gates and screams could be heard in the colony. He said people with rods and masks were abusing Biharis.
They threatened to physically assault and one of their colleagues was also beaten up after the assailants broke into their home. Following this, the frightened workers began leaving the place. He said that they were chased by masked men and managed to reach the police station. However, they weren’t safe even in the presence of the police as per the witness who added that the police themselves were feeling helpless.
Even as the workers were inside the police station, they could hear the assaulters challenging them to come out. They also said that they would finish off the Biharis. The witness who identified himself as Meraj stated he and his colleagues Saroj, Shahbaz, Sajjad, and others worked as fitters (mistri) and the ‘hooligans’ threw away their instruments saying the laborers wouldn’t be allowed to return.
Another Bihari named Sonu said that the assault on Biharis began all of a sudden and there has been a spurt in such incidents. Even though the news regarding those migrants who have been shot has come out in the open, information with respect to Biharis who have been beaten up has not made it to the papers.
We have been abused and auto, as well as bus drivers, charged us five times the amount to give us a ride to the station. Jammu station has also seen a rise in the number of migrant workers attempting to escape the violence unleashed against them.
As per available information, Kashmiris had even stopped supplies of food and other essentials to Biharis. They went hungry for three days after which they sought the help of the police and were provided with food at the police mess. Kashmiris would identify Biharis from their distinct tones and beat them up. The migrants have said that they are unable to understand the reason for such a treatment being meted out to them.
Eyewitness accounts of the ordeal of migrant laborers
Yugal Kishore from Darbhanga said that migrants are being hunted down and assaulted. He said that even he was hit with sticks about 50 times which has made it difficult for him to walk. As soon as they spot a Bihari, the miscreants begin assaulting them. He further stated that five of his colleagues who received injuries are receiving treatment in Delhi.
Saroj Jha who worked in a cloth shop stated that the phones of Biharis were taken away as a result of which they couldn’t communicate. He said that the assaulters barged into his workplace and took away his phone. He hasn’t been able to communicate with his family members who he said would be worried for him.
Even women haven’t been spared as is evident from what Nikki Kumari said. She also believes that fear is being created among Biharis by deliberately targeting them. “No one is helping us poor people. I’ve somehow managed to save myself and leave with my newborn child. It has been a great ordeal and I may never return”, she added.
Another Darbhanga native said that he hasn’t had any food for the past three days and he is happy that he has got out alive. He pointed out that Biharis are being targeted with bitterness. His things were thrown away and his money was also set afire. He said, “all my savings have been lost. We Biharis aren’t safe anywhere. We have to leave our home state in search of jobs”.
Rakesh Das from Chattisgarh spoke to Aaj Tak and said that he was working in Pulwama. The spate of terrorist attacks has created fear among them. “The labor was given off and as the firing started in the area, we left the place”, Das said. Another worker from Chattisgarh, Lokchand Dharma stated with teary eyes, “We work in the brick kiln, and its owner extracted work from us by beating us up the whole season. He didn’t even pay us. We have been driven away by him. Please help us, we have come to work bringing along our families. I was in Pulwama with my wife and two young sons. The owner drove us away at midnight saying he won’t give us a penny“.
Over the past few days, terrorists have been targeting migrant workers from across Bharat. As reported by HinduPost, two laborers from Bihar – Raja Rishidev, Yogendra Rishidev – have been shot dead and another, Chun Chun Rishidev, was critically injured. The other 6 victims are pharmacist Makhan Lal Bindroo, teachers Deepak Chand and Supinder Kour; taxi driver Mohammad Shafi Lone, Mohammad Shafi Dar, Majid Ahmad Gojri – the last 3 killed for being suspected ‘police informers’.
The Bihar government’s role in this comes across as apathetic. Villagers in Bihar are comparing the lax attitude of their administration and politicians to the hue and cry made in Lakhimpur Kheri which resulted in instant compensation of Rs. 45 lakhs and a government job to families of deceased Sikh farmers, despite the protestors having attacked the BJP workers’ car causing it to crash, and then having brutally lynched 3 occupants of the car.
(Featured Image Source: Amar Ujala)