Migrant labourers herded together in Sopore college, locked up, and given no food

Migrant labourers herded together in Sopore college, locked up, and given no food

SRINAGAR: The government has not provided food to hundreds of migrant labourers who have been picked up from their rented accommodations and lodged at degree college Sopore.

Shahid Ahmad, a non-local labourer, told Kashmir Reader that since they were brought to the college on Friday morning, no eatables have been provided to them. All the labourers, he said, have exhausted the stock of food they had brought with them. Shahid said he had brought five kgs of rice and one kg of daal.

“Sir ham bhookh se mar jayengae (we will die of hunger),” Shahid told Kashmir Reader over phone.

“Now we are left with nothing,” he added. Any effort to get food from the market is not being allowed by the police, he said.

Shahid said he landed at the college after he received a call from a police official, telling him to present himself at the college. There are more than 300 labourers living here almost in the same condition, he said.

Shahid, a resident of Bihar, had come to Kashmir eight years ago to earn for himself and his family. Over the years he has brought some 20 others from his state to work in Kashmir. Shahid works as a mason.

Superintendent of Police Sopore Javaid Iqbal said the labourers have been gathered so that they can be provided the essentials they need during the lockdown, and for security reasons. “They will be kept here for some time,” he said.

Asked why the labourers were not provided food for the last two days, he said, “The district administration provides that.”

Deputy Commissioner Baramulla GN Itoo did not respond to repeated calls from this newspaper.

ADC Sopore Ashiq Hussain said that he has asked officials concerned to look into the matter.

“I have spoken to the Tehsildar, and told him to look into the matter. Don’t give me orders, don’t do yellow journalism. What can I do other than telling the officials concerned to act,” he said and hung up the phone abruptly.

Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Pandurang Pole told Kashmir Reader that he has made note of the matter. The DC concerned, according to him, had said that the labourers were provided dry ration three days ago, when they were staying in different villages.

“ADC Sopore has been asked to visit personally, and, if required, I will also visit and apprise you,” the Divisional Commissioner said that he was told by the DC.

When Kashmir Reader again reached to Shahid, he said that no one has turned up so far.

“We are neither being allowed to go out to get food, nor being given anything to eat. Sir, we are hungry,” Shahid once again said.

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