Srinagar: In the seventh attack on migrants in Jammu and Kashmir, suspected militants on Tuesday evening killed five labourers from West Bengal at Katrasu in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district. In the last 15 days, 11 non-locals have been killed in similar attacks in southern areas of the restive region.
All the victims hailed from Murshidabad district of West Bengal, said the police.
Police sources said the labourers were staying at their rented accommodation when the militants barged inside, dragged them out, and then shot them. Five of the labourers succumbed to their injuries, while one has been referred to the hospital in a critical condition.
The sources added that three more labourers are still missing — all of them were reportedly working as masons and carpenters.
The Kashmir wing of the J&K Police said in a tweet that police are at the spot. Joint forces of Army, the police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have cordoned off the spot and a search operation has been launched.
The attack happened on a day a delegation of parliamentarians from the European Union is visiting Kashmir to talk to locals and ask them about their experience after the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status under Article 370 on August 5.
Since the Centre's decision on Article 370, terrorists have been targeting truckers and labourers, mainly who have come to the Valley from outside Kashmir. Several incidents of violence have been reported against migrant truck drivers and businesspersons since the government on October 14 lifted the ban on post-paid cellular services in Kashmir after a 72-day communication clampdown following the abrogation of Article 370 provisions in August.
On Monday, a trucker from Udhampur district was killed by militants in Anantnag, police said — he was the fourth truck driver to be killed by militants since August 5, when the BJP-led central government revoked J&K's special status by revoking Article 370.
On October 24, militants killed two non-Kashmiri truck drivers in Shopian district and set their apple-laded vehicles on fire.
On October 16, a Punjab-based apple trader identified as Charanjeet Singh was killed and another injured when they were attacked by militants in Shopian district. The same day, a brick kiln worker from Chhattisgarh was shot dead by militants in Pulwama district.
Two days before these incidents, two militants shot dead the driver of a truck bearing a Rajasthan registration plate and assaulted an orchard owner in Shopian district. The driver was identified as Sharief Khan.
These incidents had created fear among non-local transporters, which led to authorities setting up safe zones for fruit dealers in Shopian to procure and send the produce outside the state. Officials in the district administration said eight to nine "safe zones" have been earmarked in Shopian along the main roads in south Kashmir, to facilitate the fruit dealers to procure the fruits from the farmers.
(With inputs from PTI)