[DAWN] As a complete security lockdown in Indian Kashmiree entered its fourth day on Thursday, reports emerged that hundreds of poor migrant workers have begun fleeing the Himalayan region to return to their far-away villages in northern and eastern India.|
Migrant workers in Indian Kashmiree complained on Wednesday that their Kashmiri employers didn't pay them any salary as security forces began imposing tight travel restrictions over the weekend and asked them to leave their jobs.
On Wednesday, workers crowded the railroad station at Jammu, the winter capital of the state, as they waited for trains bound for Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand. They carried their belongings on their heads and under their arms, tied in bedsheets.
One worker, Jagdish Mathur, said many people walked for miles on a highway and hitched rides on army trucks and buses from Srinagar to Jammu, a distance of 160 miles.
"We haven't eaten properly for the past four days," said Mathur, adding that he doesn't have money to buy a rail ticket to take him to his village in eastern Bihar state.
"The government should help me."
Surjit Singh, a carpenter, told the New Delhi television channel that he was returning home because of occupied Kashmire's security lockdown.
Meanwhile, India's surprise move to carve out sparsely populated Ladakh from occupied Kashmir to make it a territory directly controlled by New Delhi has been met with protests in Kargil, a Muslim-majority border city in Ladakh that identifies culturally with Kashmir, suggesting that the Hindu nationalist-led government's plan to redraw the country's political map will be far from easy.
While some Ladakhi lawmakers from Leh, the main city in the heavily Buddhist region with historic ties to Tibet, hailed the move as a long-overdue response to their requests for separation from the region, organisations in Kargil condemned the decision.
Mountainous occupied Kashmir comprises three regions — Hindu-majority Jammu, Muslim-majority Kashmir and heavily Buddhist Ladakh.
After Kashmir's special status was scrapped, Kargil's religious and political organisations met to discuss the changes, releasing a statement condemning the Indian government for acting "without the consent from the people".