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Hundreds of Migrant Workers from UP, Bihar Flee Kashmir Amid Security Lockdown

Migrant workers complained 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.

Associated Press

Updated:August 8, 2019, 8:59 AM IST
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Hundreds of Migrant Workers from UP, Bihar Flee Kashmir Amid Security Lockdown
Migrant laborers carry their luggage and prepare to leave the region, at a railway station in Jammu. (AP)

Jammu: Hit by a complete security lockdown in Kashmir, hundreds of poor migrant workers have begun fleeing the region to return to their far-away villages in northern and eastern India.

Some 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.

The government clamped a complete shutdown on Kashmir as it scrapped the state's special status, including exclusive hereditary rights and a separate constitution, and divided it into two Union Territories.

Pakistan announced Wednesday that it is downgrading its diplomatic ties with India and suspending bilateral trade in response to New Delhi's decision to reduce Kashmir's special status. The two nuclear-armed neighbours have fought three wars, two of them over control of Kashmir, since they won independence in 1947.

On Wednesday, workers crowded the railroad station at Jammu, the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir, 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.

Worker Jagdish Mathur said many people walked for kilometers on a highway and hitched rides on army trucks and buses from Srinagar to Jammu, a distance of 260 kilometers.

"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 Bihar. "The government should help me."

Surjit Singh, a carpenter, told a television channel that he was returning home because of Kashmir's security lockdown.

Every year, tens of thousands of people travel to Kashmir looking for work, mainly masonry, carpentry and agriculture. Whenever the security situation deteriorates, they return home.​

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