KOLKATA – Describing the killings of five labourers from West Bengal in an attack in Jammu and Kashmir as pre-planned murder, chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday questioned the security arrangements in place in the Valley after abrogation of Article 370.
Speaking to reporters, the chief minister said, the labourers were set to return to their homes soon.
“But the manner they were murdered brutally after being abducted, I think it is a pre-planned murder,” Banerjee said.
She also demanded a “strong investigation” into the incident to find out the truth.
Mentioning that it is the Centre that is responsible for the law and order situation in the Valley, she said, “In Kashmir, there are no political activities and there is no political party there currently. The entire administration belongs to the central government, the Army and the other central forces… they are taking care of it.
“And on that day a delegation of European Union parliamentarians was visiting the state. Inspite of all this, how could they abduct these poor innocent fellows … Im really shocked, she added.
Five labourers from West Bengals Murshidabad district were killed and one worker was wounded in Kulgam area on Tuesday.
Families inconsolable as Bengal workers” bodies reach home
Heart-rending scenes were witnessed as the bodies of five workers killed in Jammu and Kashmir”s Kulgam reached their village Bahalnagar in Murshidabad district on Thursday.
The flower-bedecked coffins were brought to this village under Sagardighi block sometime after noon, as thousands of mourners from nearby and far-flung areas came to pay their last respects and share the grief of the bereaved families.
The distraught family members seemed inconsolable as they broke down on seeing the coffins that carried the mortal remains of their dear ones.
State Urban Development Minister and Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim accompanied the bodies from the NSC Bose International Airport in Kolkata to their village and met the kin of the deceased workers, who were killed at Katrasoo village of Kulgam district on Tuesday evening.
Hakim wondered whether the nation has gained anything through abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution that gave special powers to Jammu and Kashmir. The Article was repealed by Parliament in August.
He also questioned why the common people were not been provided protection when the European Parliament MPs delegation were under a tight security cordon and demanded a statement from Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
“What has the country gained by repealing Article 370 of the Indian Constitution? These people have been kiiled now.
“The MPs from abroad were provided high level protection. They were under a protective cordon. All the security paraphernalia seemed to be for the VIPs. But even the minimum protection was not given to the common people like these workers. Why isn”t the Union Home Minister giving a statement today?” he asked.
Later in the day, state minister Suvendu Adhikari and Trinamool MP from Krishnanagar Mahua Moitra reached the village and spoke to the families of each of the victims. A large number of people gathered in an open field of the village where the coffins were kept.
The two leaders handed over Rs 5 lakh to the nearest kin of each of the victims.
The father of one of the victims, Nayeem Ahmed alias Nayeemuddin rued that he could not reach out to his son to warn him about the situation and ask him to leave.
Nayeem”s father, who had also gone to Kashmir, returned on Tuesday, after receiving threats.
“I was at Chitragram. I fled because of the fear of the militants. They were asking us to go back. They told us they would kill all outsiders, shoot them.
“I tried to contact my son, through phone. But I couldnt. I couldn”t convey to him that he should leave Kashmir. So he got killed,” he said.
Nayeem”s brother appealed to the government for jobs for his sister-in-law.
“We are only left with our tears now. We appeal to the government for assistance for us, my sister-in-law, some job. Otherwise we cannot run the family. We have no job, no land,” he said.
Adhikari said he was finding it very difficult to watch the heart-rending scenes.
“These are very poor families… I have no words to condemn it. The people”s representatives from the districts have given one month”s salary. We are all with these families,” he
The minister said that arrangements were being made to ensure the return of other workers from the state.
“As responsible public representatives, we doing everthing to be by the side of these families. We are arranging for flight tickets, train tickets, other logistics. The process has started. The entire administration including the District Magistrate, the Superintendent of Police, and the people”s representatives are seized with the issue.
“As Bengalis, we are asking why were the poor people shot? Centre should give a statement,” he said, announced that financial assistance has been extended to another injured worker, now recuperating in hospital.
“He wants to come back. We are making arrangements so that he can come back by plane once he recovers. We have given the money to his wife.
“He has sought some work. We will ensure contractual work for him so that he can earn Rs 10,000-12,000 a month,” he said.
Adhikari said it was for the Central government to dispel the fear psychosis that prevails in Kashmir.
“It is the responsibility of the centre to dispel it. We won”t let our people to face death there,” he added.EU calls on India, Pak to resume dialogue amid tension over Kashmir