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'Was Shielded by Other Bullet-hit Bodies': Labourer From Bengal Narrates Tale of Survival in Kulgam Terror Attack

Two survivors of Tuesday’s attack in Kulgam, in which five labourers from Bengal were killed, recount the horrifying event while bearing the scars – physical and emotional.

Sujit Nath | News18.com

Updated:October 31, 2019, 5:20 PM IST
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'Was Shielded by Other Bullet-hit Bodies': Labourer From Bengal Narrates Tale of Survival in Kulgam Terror Attack
(Left) Bashirul Sheikh Bengali labourer who survived the terror attack in Kashmir; (Right) File Photo of Jahiruddin Sheikh along with his wife Paromit. (Image: News18)

Kolkata: Jahiruddin Sheikh feels lucky to be alive. His associate, Basheerul Sheikh, is luckier. While Jahiruddin is in hospital after surviving a suspected terrorist attack in Kashmir with four bullet injuries even as five others were killed, Basheerul had gone out to fetch some food at the time and returned only to witness the scene of the massacre.

On Tuesday evening, a group of gunmen barged into the room in Katrasu village of Jammu and Kashmir’s Kulgam district, accosted six Bengal labourers who were staying there and working in nearby areas, took them to a neighbouring alley, and then sprayed them with bullets. All of the workers, except Jahiruddin, were killed.

Basheerul was brought to Kolkata from Kashmir on Wednesday night and was taken to SSKM Hospital with severe post-traumatic stress disorder. He fainted multiple times and was shifted to the emergency ward.

“At the time of the attack, I had gone out to bring food. I was not there at home. When I returned, I saw a large number of people gathered there. My heart filled with horror when I saw my friends lying in a pool of blood. Someone told me that they were killed by terrorists,” said Basheerul.

There have been a clutch of attacks on ‘outsiders’ in the Valley since October 14, when gunmen killed a truck driver in south Kashmir’s Shopian district and set ablaze the apple-laden vehicle he was driving. The latest such incident, the one on Tuesday, came on a day a group of European parliamentarians were visiting J&K to observe the ground situation after the central government stripped the state of its special status under Article 370 of the Constitution on August 5, and reorganised it into two union territories (the decision came into effect on Thursday).

“I was absolutely clueless…speechless...like why this massacre happened and how it happened,” Basheerul said. “All of them were my close friends and we were planning to come to Kolkata on November 3. Those who killed my friends must be cowards otherwise why will someone kill innocent, poor labourers who are far away from their families just to earn their daily bread. I want stern action against the perpetrators. I will never ever go to Kashmir in my life. That is not a safe place at all. I will suggest to others also not to visit Kashmir ever.”

Like Basheerul, his friend Jahiruddin too survived the terror attack. However, he was not as fortunate. Jahiruddin was one of the labourers who were fired upon by the attackers.

He and his friends Sheikh Rafiq, Naimuddin Alam, Qamaruddin Sheikh, Mursalim Sheikh and Rafiqul Alam belong to the same locality in West Bengal’s Murshidabad district. The five died on the spot.

“Since some of the other labourers fell on me, it saved me from getting struck by more bullets. The terrorists thought that I was dead too and left. I luckily survived with four bullet injuries,” Jahiruddin narrated the chilling story to his family members on the phone from SMHS Hospital in Srinagar on Wednesday morning.

“Before we could react, they opened fire. The first bullet hit me in the stomach and I collapsed. All of us were crying, screaming for help. But no one came.”

Last month, Jahiruddin was approached by a local labour contractor at Murshidabad who offered him a lucrative job as a daily-wage worker in Kashmir.

Married just two months ago, Jahiruddin, a resident of Bahal Nagar under the Sagardighi assembly constituency, was initially reluctant but later decided to go, for a better livelihood. He had promised his wife that he would take her to the Valley on a holiday one day.

The bodies of the five deceased were brought to Kolkata on Thursday morning and then taken to Murshidabad.

The killings sparked protests in the Bengal district as locals and relatives of the victims agitated against the central government for not ensuring adequate security for migrant labourers working in Kashmir.

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