Kashmiri refugees eke out livelihood in Kolkata
About 50 Kashmiri families have for the past two months put up tents near Dakshineshwar temple in the northern outskirts of Kolkata.
A big plot of vacant land at Rajabagan, meant for an Expressway, has become the temporary address for 350 to 400 Kashmiri refugees, most of whom are form Baramulla, Badaun and adjoining areas of the strife-torn Kashmir valley.
The flock comprises mostly tangawalaas and fruit vendors from places like Pahelgam, Patnitop and whose livelihood depends largely on tourism.
The members of the group talking to The Indian Express said that since June last year, strikes, curfews and shut-downs have made it difficult for them to manage two-square meals a day. Hundred of these families first flocked to Jammu station and from there set out for different locations.
“We have found a shelter here,” said Riyaz Ahmed, one of the camp inmates. Riyaz is MA in education from Kashmir university.
“At Dakshineshwar railway station, we saw this abandoned land and decided to set up camps here. The locals are helping us with food and other necessities,” said Rashid Ahmed, 23, who is a graduate.
While West Bengal Chief Secretary Samar Ghosh denied any knowledge of the new group of refugees in the northern outskirts of the city, the additional director general of Intelligence Branch, West Bengal police, Banibrata Basu, said police teams were sent to inquire about them. Their addresses in Kashmir were verified and found to be true. And on humanitarian grounds, they were allowed to stay, said Basu. The open space where Kashmiri refugees have set up camps, belong to the National Highway Authority.
An official of Belghoria police station under which the land falls said: “Initially we objected but when we came to know about their circumstances, we allowed them to stay. They get water from the nearby municipal taps and from Kishore Sangha, a local club. Food is often provided by Gurudwara Singh Sabha of Baranagar, a few NGOs and a few local mosques. The male members of the group earn some money by doing odd jobs like pulling rickshaws and working as daily labourers.
The living conditions are highly unhygienic. “If we fail to get food and lead a peaceful life, we will go back. We will ask our government to make arrangements for us,” said Mohammad Shafaq, another inmate of the camp.
When contacted on phone, Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah expressed his ignorance about the refugees. He said he will inquire about it.
Sambuddha Gupta of Spotlight Media Center observes :
- This news was published in Bartaman Patrika months before concerning the security of Dakshineshwar Kali Temple as some Kashmiri Terrorist Outfits and Indian Mujaheedin threatened to blast Kalighat and Dakshineshwar Kali Temple. The callous West Bengal Chief Secretary Samar Ghosh and the pretentious Additional Director general of Intelligence Branch, West Bengal police, Banibrata Basu, are now denying the planful occupation of some hidden subversive elements in West Bengal.
- The non-sense Kishore Sangha and Balle Balle Baranagar Gurudwara Singh Sabha are giving milk to the serpents to spate the venom to us. This is nothing humanitarian. These Kashmiri men pelted stones upon Indian security. These Kashmiri men hacked to death of Rajneesh Sharma, the husband of Anchal Sharma. They drove away 3 lakhs of Kashmiri pandits from Kashmir. They are moreprivileged in Kashmir than anybody under the poverty line in any states of India. They burnt Sikhs and Hindus alive many time before. The President and Prime Minister or any Chief minister or anybody from out of Kashmir do not buy a little piece of land there and we simply considering their suspicious occupation in Bengal ?
- The ruling CPI(M) and the pro-change TMC both have in their mind to have some more voters if they are given EPIC anyway. Both are not concerned about the demographic change and increase of Islamic fundamentalism in west Bengal. They have only one say to increase the reservation for Muslims as they are the ardent follower of Holy Shariyat instead of Unholy Indian constitution.
- Hello, Mr Vikram Sen, Director of Census Operations, West Bengal - have you counted these illegal Kashmiri intruders at Dakshineswar along with all Kashmiri Shwalwalla (Shwal sellers) and the unauthorized Kabuliwalla (Afghan money lenders) staying in West Bengal ? We know that you send your men at 00-00 hrs on 1st March to count the street mads, footpath dwellers, etc. But you escaped these Kashmiri invaders for some unknown reasons.