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Express News Service

SRINAGAR:  The targeted killing of non-locals by militants in Kashmir has caused fear among the skilled and unskilled labourers from other states working in the Valley. They are keeping a close watch and say if more killings take place, they may be forced to leave. 

Meanwhile, several non-local workers have been leaving Kashmir since last week. Mohammad Shaheen, a native of West Bengal but now living in Delhi, said that for the last three decades, he had been working in Kashmir. “It is the first time that non-local street vendors and labourers are being targeted in J&K,” he said. In the last fortnight, 10 civilians, including three minority community members, three non-locals and four local Muslims have been shot dead by militants.

“There used to be movement of people on roads till  9 pm but now people prefer to return home by 6 pm,” said Shaheen, adding that if more killings took place, non-locals might  be forced to return to native places. “People won’t risk their lives to earn money,” Shaheen added. Meanwhile, an official of the J&K Road Transport Corporation said a 48-seater bus daily plies from Srinagar to Jammu at 7.30 am and since last week around 40 passengers in the bus each day are non-locals.

A cab operator in Srinagar said that in the last two weeks, around 30 cabs have been leaving for Jammu daily as the number of passengers leaving the city increased after the civilian killings. “A fortnight back, only 10-15 cabs used to ply from Srinagar to Jammu daily,” he said, adding that many non-locals have left the Valley in the last fortnight.

After the targetted killings by militants, IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar purportedly issued an advisory calling on district police chiefs to bring all non-locals in their jurisdictions to nearest police, CRPF and army units. However, the IGP later denied issuing such an order and termed it fake. J&K L-G Manoj Sinha, while condemning the killings has said, “We’ll hunt down terrorists, their sympathisers and avenge innocent civilian’s blood”.

Poonch operation continuesFor the seventh consecutive day, army troops on Sunday continued their operation against militants hiding in the dense forests of Poonch district in Jammu and Kashmir. Three persons, including a mother-son duo, were detained by security men for questioning during the operation. An army official said personnel assisted by para commandos continued the search operation in Nar Khas forest area in Poonch. Army helicopters, the official said, were assisting the troops on the ground in locating the group of heavily-armed militants, whose exact number is not known.

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