Kashmiris stuck in several states: ‘We may be attacked on our way back home’
Srinagar, Feb 20: Following the spate of violence against Kashmiris in other states, there are many Valleyites out there apprehensive to start their journeys fearing they may be attacked on their way back home. In the last two days, hundreds of Kashmiris have returned or are on their way back to Kashmir from several states in wake of the harassment and physical attacks against them as a reaction to last Thursday’s Lethpora attack. Even as the J&K government, many valley student groups, and Sikh NGOs helped Kashmiris by offering them a safe passage, there are scores still stuck in various cities, fearful to take up the journey. For instance, Kashmiri traders and hawkers staying in Kolkata, are unnerved by the incidents of attacks against the people of the valley. Farooq Ahmad Shawl, a handicraft dealer from Saraf Kadal here, packed all his belongings and decided to return from Kolkata leaving his business season–which usually ends in April–midway. For last two days, he has attempted thrice to leave the city but gave it up after fearing attacks in UP and Jharkhand, the right-wing dominated places that he has to cross through on his way back to Kashmir. “Yesterday (Monday) a video of a Kashmiri boy being beaten up by goons was circulated. After watching it, at least 20 seasonal traders putting here in Pargan area have decided to leave for home. We are ready and have packed our all belongings but we are afraid that we may be attacked on our way back to Kashmir,” Farooq told The Kashmir Monitor over the phone. Shawl claimed that members of right-wing groups were “marching in various areas in Kolkata and looking for Kashmiris to beat them.” “They (mobs) constantly raise anti-Kashmir slogans. These goons ask every Kashmiri to chant Bharat Mata ki Jai, Vande Mataram on getting hold of him. We are getting reports of Kashmiris holing up themselves to prevent any attack from goons in place like Salt Lake, Howrah as well,” he said. “We have asked our members to restrict their movements till any arrangement is made to return home,” he said. The incident has frightened Kashmiri students pursuing various courses in colleges of Kolkata. “We have been assured of security but still the fear prevails when a person from our community is brutally attacked in broad day light,” said Sajad Ahmad, a Kashmiri student, pursing his postgraduate degree in a private college in Kolkata. Kashmiri traders in Patna were also worried since many Kashmiris were attacked by miscreants on Sunday, warning them to leave the city. “Although police assured us security but still we also want to leave for home as soon as possible. Our four men were attacked with sticks and those horrible scenes give us sleepless nights,” said Majeed Ahmad, a trader who deals with Kashmiri handicrafts in Patna. In many sensitive states like UP, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Rajasthan, many traders have not opened their stalls or businesses since the attacks were reported in various states of India.