SRINAGAR: More Kashmiri labourers would be part of this year’s annual ‘Darbar Move’ preparations as the prevailing uncertain situation has restricted non-local labourers’ entry to the valley.
From road renovation to painting of pedestrian crossing and footpaths, a good presence of Kashmiri labourers is being witnessed in summer capital. The work, otherwise, had been monopolised over the years by migrant labour force.
President Jammu & Kashmir Contractors Coordination Committee, Ghulam Jeelani, says that the contractors prepared local labour force as migrant labourers refused to come to Kashmir citing “unstable” situation. “The major share of our labour force and staff are non-Kashmiris who currently are back in their home states. We requested them to come here and we assured them of full safety but they refused,” Jeelani said.
He said that the refusal had forced them to train Kashmiri labours in several works that form a part of the jobs that contractors undertake.
“A huge chunk of labourers came from Sadrekoot area of Bandipora and from Banihal. Still we were short of thousands of workers,” Jeelani said. “So locals filled in”.
Hundreds of thousands of migrant labourers from several Indian states work in construction and agriculture sectors in Kashmir during summers and return to their home states with the onset of winters.
Bashir Ahmad, an elderly painter from Qamarqari area of Srinagar, says that this is the first time in decade that Kashmiri labourers form majority in civil works ahead of Darbar move. “Every year, the population of non-local workers would increase. They (outsiders) had reduced the work space for locals to large extent. We were struggling to find even a days’ work,” Ahmad said.
Ganesh Kulkarni, a construction worker from Uttar Pradesh, says he has come to Kashmir with his cousin despite his work mates refusing to come here following the violence that erupted on April 9. “They are in no mood to come here given the last years’ agitation and the violence during the beginning of this year. Some people might come, A small percentage might come provided normalcy returns here,” says the labourer.