'Panic-stricken' workers return to Bengal from Kashmir
One hundred and thirty eight workers, 133 of them residents of West Bengal, arrived in the city on Monday by the Jammu Tawi Express from Kashmir, saying they left the Valley as they feared for their "lives".
Five of the workers were inhabitants of Assam.
The development came a week after terrorists shot five workers from Bengal to death in Jammu and Kashmir's Kulgam district.
"We feared for our lives there. There is no guarantee about when and why they may strike. Now, I feel relieved," a youth from South Dinajpur district said after alighting from the train at Kolkata station.
"It is very difficult to live there. There are lots of disturbances. We could not go out for work. In fact, we could not go out of our rooms. So I have come back. Yes, I don't have a job here, but what else could I have done," said another young worker.
The workers were received at the station by state Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim, with a large number of police personnel guiding the returnees to five buses waiting to take them home in various districts.
Most of the workers were from North Bengal, majority of them residents of South Dinajpur. The others belong to different villages in Birbhum, Malda and North 24 Parganas districts.
A large number of workers from Bengal go to Kashmir every year for better income. Some of them are seasonal migrants, who go to the Valley for apple harvest. Others work there as carpenters or do other sundry jobs.
"There we get Rs 12,000 to Rs 13,000 every month, much more than what we get here in Bengal," said a worker.
Another worker said that the monthly income, depending on the nature of the job, could go up to Rs 18,000. "In Bengal, we get only Rs 150 per day. It is difficult to feed our families with such a meagre income," he said.
Hakim said the state government helped the workers to come back as they and their families were panic-stricken after the October 28 shootout.
"They were in panic, their families were in panic. Nobody wants their sons to get killed. Now their families will be relieved," the minister said.
The state government has also made arrangements for taking the five Assam inhabitants to Cooch Behar from where they would be put in Assam-bound buses.IANS