SRINAGAR: Post the Pulwama Fidayeen attack that killed 49 CRPF troops, Kashmiri salesmen who operate in various Indian states are facing threats and abuses from ordinary people.
The Kashmiri salesmen often travel to other Indian states in winter to sell Kashmiri fabrics, rugs and some other items. Now they are facing the wrath of Indians who blame them for the killing of CRPF troops in Kashmir last week.
“There is hardly anyone who talks to us in a humane way. We are seeing changed faces since the Pulwama attack. We are nowhere involved in it, yet we have to bear the fury which we receive in the form of hate slogans, comments and aggression,” said a Kashmiri salesman operating in Rae Bareli area of Uttar Pradesh.
“We are subjected to angry stares. There are protests against Kashmiris every day which are filled with hate slogans against Kashmiri Muslims. Though these hurt, we maintain calm, because an outburst of rage is just moments away if we respond in any way,” he added.
Since the attack in Kashmir on CRPF on Thursday, Kashmiri students have been facing mob attacks, suspension from college authorities, and arrests by police. Students in Dehradun, Mohali, Ambala have faced the brunt. More than 100 students from Dehradun have been sent home after mob threats. Even the Kashmiri dean at a college in Dehradun was suspended for bringing Kashmiri students to the college.
Now the rage has moved towards Kashmiri salesmen who for the four-five months of winter sell Kashmir-made products to Indian customers. They come back to Kashmir when winter is over and many of them don’t do any other business. Most of them sell Kashmiri products by going door to door in Indian cities and towns.
One such Kashmiri salesman who operates in Bihar said that groups of people there, one after the other, take out processions which are scary to him. He said he is not against the protests but against the hate they are filled with.
“After the protests are over, the procession breaks into groups and goes around raising threatening slogans. I have known some of them for many years. Some of those men told me that we Kashmiris are all terrorists, and support Pakistan. They say we must receive the same treatment that Indian forces receive in Kashmir,” he said.
Now the salesmen are wrapping up their business early, much ahead of their annual routine. The Rae Bareli salesman has already packed up his clothes and merchandise, and wants to return. But, he said, the train journey culminates in Jammu, where authorities have enforced curfew, and violent mobs are out looking for vulnerable Kashmiris.
“From there it is more dangerous to reach home. We are in a fix. Now we sit inside our rented accommodations for the whole day waiting for things to calm down. We don’t meet anyone. We have outstanding payments but we don’t even ask for them. We just want to be home first, and then pursue the payments over phone. Nothing is dearer than life,” he said.