People fear renting properties to non-locals amid killings

ANANTNAG: Following the abrogation of Article-370, people here in south Kashmir were reluctant to rent their properties to non-locals, but with the killings of outsiders by unidentified gunmen in Pulwama and Shopian districts of the region, they are now fearful of doing the same.
Non-locals from different states of India flock to Kashmir and work in different sectors, including the industries and the farming sector to earn a livelihood.
This year, in an unprecedented move, the government asked these non-locals to vacate from the valley and return to their homes. The advisory was issued ahead of August 5 abrogation of Article-370 and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir.
As things settled and a sense of normalcy returned to the valley, many of these non-locals started returning to the valley including the apple traders and transporters, who come to the valley starting September and camp here through November and December months.
The people, who had earlier happily rented out their properties to non-locals, showed reluctance in doing so as the people from outside started trickling back.
“They are no longer welcome. Earlier, with 370 in place, I knew my property was safe but now they can lay a claim on my property and I will have to spend the rest of my life in a court,” a landlord from Anantnag district, who had a building constructed some years back for this very purpose, told Kashmir Reader.
Others had similar things to say. The non-locals, Kashmir Reader talked to, said that they were dejected but at the same time they understood where the locals were coming from.
“I have lived here for more than 20 years and never have I faced an issue in getting space, commercial or residential. The people here are warm but the circumstances have forces them to behave this way,” Arif, a barber from Bijnor area of Uttar Pradesh, told Kashmir Reader.
The reluctance to rent properties is now changing into fear with three killings of non-locals in less than fifteen days. It started with the killing of a truck driver in Shirmal area of Shopian district on October 7 and was followed by the killing of a brick kiln laborer in Pulwama district and an apple trader in Shopian district on October 14.
While many non-locals have fled the valley again, some are staying put. “They have been asked to camp near police stations or army camps in many parts of south Kashmir,” a police source told Kashmir Reader.
The incidents have, however, instilled fear in locals as well who are now fearful of renting out their properties to the outsiders.
“A rumor has been doing rounds that the landlord will have to pay 18 Lac rupees if his non-local tenet is killed here. I don’t know whether it is true or not but I do not want to take any risks either,” a landlord from Shopian district of south Kashmir told Kashmir Reader.
He said that he will rather leave his property idle and not earn from it than take any risk by letting it out to a non-local.
The developments, meanwhile, are deeply affecting the pace of different works in Kashmir valley given the fact that the laborers from outside have been working in every filed conceivable.
How things will pan out in the coming days and whether this will be curtains for the non-local workforce in Kashmir valley can only be witnessed and not speculated.

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