Suspected militants have killed 11 civilians, including five migrant workers, since early October, despite extensive security crackdown in a heavily militarized area in Kashmir.
While the trigger for the latest wave of attacks was not immediately clear, Kashmir has been the site of an armed insurgency against New Delhi for decades. India and Pakistan have full claim over Kashmir but some parts are ruled by both.
“We have moved thousands of workers to safer places and are facilitating their return home,” a senior police officer told Reuters.
In other areas, security forces have intensified patrolling to prevent any terrorist activity, the official said.
A government spokesperson in Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar declined to comment on the movement of migrant workers.
The decision to transfer the workers came after the attack on migrant laborers from the eastern Bihar state on Sunday. Police said militants barged into a rented room in Kashmir’s Kulgam district and opened fire on them, killing two and injuring one.
Kashmir has gone through various bouts of violence over the years, but the latest wave of attacks appears to be targeted towards non-Kashmiris, including migrant workers, and members of the minority Hindu and Sikh communities in the Muslim-majority Valley.
Currently, hundreds of thousands of migrant workers in Kashmir form the backbone of the region’s workforce in agriculture and construction.
Some of them said that they fear for their lives now.
“We have seen bad times, but never targeted. This time we are scared,” said Mohammad Salam, 32, originally from Bihar who has been working in Kashmir for the past six years.
Salam said the police picked him up from the rented accommodation along with others on Sunday night and took them to a protected area.
“We can’t sit here idle,” he said, “we’ll go back.”
Credit : www.cnn.com