KOLKATA – Condemning the killings of five labourers from West Bengal in an attack in Kashmir, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday demanded a “strong investigation” into the incident to find out the “real truth”.
She also announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each for the families of the victims.
“In a most unfortunate incident in Kashmir yesterday, five innocent labourers were brutally killed in a pre planned manner. We are totally shocked! Presently there are no political activities in Kashmir and entire law and order is with the Government of India,” she said.
Banerjee tasked a senior Bengal police officer to coordinate and find out details about the brutal killings.
“We, therefore, demand a strong investigation so that the real truth comes out. We are deputing Shri Sanjay Singh ADG South Bengal to find out details from them,” she tweeted.
Five migrant labourers from West Bengal were shot dead and one critically injured by terrorists in Kulgam district of south Kashmir on Tuesday.
The chief minister assured the families of the victims of all possible help.
“Our party MPs and MLAs have reached Murshidabad to meet the family members of victims. Our government is providing Rs five lakh each to the victim’s family and render all assistance to them,” she posted on the microblogging site.
Earlier in the day, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar had termed the killings as a “cowardly act” and sought help from the government for the bereaved families.
“@MamataOfficial. In deep pain and sadness, I condemn the wanton killing by terrorists in J&K of workers from Murshidabad. This cowardly and dastardly act is by enemies of humanity. We need to shun violence. Appeal to Government and NGOs to extend help to bereaved families,” he tweeted.
Families of Bengal labourers killed in J&K says they were threatened by militant groups
The family members of the labourers, who were gunned down by suspected militants Tuesday night in Kashmir, said on Wednesday their men were threatened regularly by the militant groups to leave the valley as they were “non-Kashmiris”.
The families are yet to come to terms with the fact that their dear ones, who had promised to come back home later this week, won’t ever come.
Noimuddin Sheikh, Mursalim Sheikh, Rofik Sheikh, Kamruddin Sheikh and Rofikul Sheikh, who used to work at apple gardens in Kulgam district of south Kashmir, were shot dead by the militants on Tuesday night.
Another labourer Jahiruddin Sheikh, who was injured and has been shifted to a hospital in Kashmir, got married merely two months back.
All the six labourers were resident of Bahal Nagar village in Sagardighi area of West Bengal’s Murshidabad district.
Murshidabad is over 200 km from Kolkata near Bangladesh border.
A Bengali news channel in Kolkata showed injured Jahiruddin as saying the militants came to their house Tuesday evening and took all the six with them.
“They took us to an isolated spot and then opened fire on us. I somehow escaped after being shot at,” the news channel showed him telling about the incident.
Every year during August the labourers used to go to the valley to work and return after October.
The apple season in Kashmir starts in the second week of August and peaks in September-October.
Noimuddin’s father Jaris Sheikh, who himself works as a labourer in an apple garden in Kashmir, said his son and other workers were regularly getting threat calls from the militants asking them to leave the valley.
“My son and others were regularly getting threat calls from some militant groups. They were telling to leave the valley as we are non-Kashmiris and eating into jobs of the Kashmiris.
I decided to come back and returned yesterday. My son was suppose to return on Thursday as he was yet to get his payment,” Jaris Sheikh told reporters.
“When I was returning on Monday, I never thought I would be seeing my son for the last time”, an inconsolable Jaris said.
Aminirul, Kamruddin Sheikh’s elder brother, said last week when he had spoken to his brother, he said he would be coming back home after Diwali and stay back in the village.
“Kamruddin has been working in Kashmir for the last several years. But, this time when we last spoke he had told me that he won’t be going back to the valley as the situation is not good and they are being continuously asked to leave,” Aminirul said.
Critically injured Jahiruddin Sheikh’s wife- Paramita- hoped her husband will come back home safely.
“I just hope that my husband will come back safely. I want the government to ensure that my husband comes back home safely. Once he is back, I will never ever allow him to go back to Kashmir to work,” Paramita said.
According to the locals of Bahal Nagar, several youths of the village have been working as migrant labourers either in apple gardens or construction sites of Kashmir for the past 20 years.
Although five labourers have been killed and one injured, there are families, who are yet to get in touch with their men working in various parts of Kashmir.
Roshni Bibi, said she has been unable to connect her husband for the last 10 days.
“After the news of the killing reached the village, all of us couldn’t sleep as I am unable to connect with my husband Rabiul for the last 10 days. His mobile phone is unreachable. We have tried to connect the labour contractor.
But, till now there have been no positive response,” Roshni Bibi said.
Labourer injured in Kulgam attack recovering from injuries
A labourer injured in the suspected militant attack in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district in which five persons were killed is recovering from his injuries at a hospital here, police said on Wednesday.
A police official had earlier said that the labourer had succumbed to his injuries.
Five migrant labourers from West Bengal were shot dead by suspected militants in Kulgam district on Tuesday.
All the victims hailed from Murshidabad district of West Bengal, the police said.
The attack happened at a time when a delegation of parliamentarians from the European Union is in Kashmir to talk to locals and ask them about their experience after the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 of the Constitution.
NC condemns killing of five migrant labourers in Kulgam
National Conference (NC) on Wednesday condemned the killing of five labourers from West Bengal in Kulgam district of Jammu and Kashmir and called for a thorough probe into the incident.
“We condemn this dastardly and inhuman act. The party has always been against violence of any sorts and the killing of innocent non-local labourers is unacceptable. We respect the sanctity of human life. No religion approves of such dastardly acts,” the party said in a statement.
Expressing sympathy with the bereaved families, the party demanded a thorough probe into the incident.
“The traditional struggle for the restoration of rights of the people of the state was shorn of violence and all sorts of prejudices. We also condemn the sporadic attacks on truck drivers. Such attacks are being carried out in a calculated manner to malign the just cause of Kashmir and its people. We denounce such incidents in unequivocal terms,” the statement said.