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'Scared' but not fleeing, Kashmiri porters say in Shimla

“We stand with the nation and express solidarity with brave martyrs families”

Scared but not fleeing, Kashmiri porters say in Shimla

Shimla: Pulwama tragedy — which was deadliest ever in the Kashmir's history has led to a disquiet among Kashmiri porters — called 'khans' in local parlance in Shimla, but they deny plans to flee back to the valley in wake of unsavoury incidents involving attacks against Kashmiri shopkeepers, students and shawl vendors in some Indian towns, including Dedradun, Delhi and even Himachal Pradesh.

The local administration in Shimla, Una, Kullu and Dharamshala districts have asked the police to ensure their full safety. Some of Deputy Commissioners were quick to reach-out Kashmiri natives, including porters, businessmen and shopkeepers in the towns and rural hamlets to assure, and advised them not to believe in rumours or vidoes being put -out on social media by some vested interests.

"After some reports relating to attack on one or two shawl vendors in Kangra, we felt scared, but we are not leaving anywhere; we feel very safe in Shimla. In fact, I am a second generation person and live at Lakkar bazar. My father had come here 30 years back. I joined him some eight years back. I have my Aadhar Card of Shimla address. Why should I fear about my safety?" said Adil Ahmad Paddar, who hails from Anantnag village.

Deputy Commissioner Shimla Amit Kashyap said, "No khan has lelt Shimla in past four days or after Pulwama. I haven't got any report/complaint about Kashmiri porter having been threatened, hounded or attacked in the Shimla. They have been promised all safety."

Yet, at Dharamshala and Mcleodganj some locals, who had leased out their properties to Kashmiri businessmen to set up their shawl business or run hotels/guest houses, have started putting pressures to Kashmiris to return their properties in past three days, reports confirm.

In Una, a local youth organisation, supposed to be of Rajput community outfit, on Monday submitted a memorandum to Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Prajapati asking him to ensure proper checking of I-cards/Aadhar cards of all Kashmiris and keep eye on their activities. Some shawl vendors to go house to house were chased and told to go back.

"It's true they submitted a memorandum. We have already taken precautions. There is no untoward incident even as we also have some students. Rather the locals have conveyed us about taking

care of their safety," said Prajapati.

Adarsh Sood, a former Shimla Mayor, who owns a Gas Agency on the Mall road, said he has a large number of Kashmiri porters working with him for 25 to 30 years. "Sultan Mohammad for example, is with me for past 25 -26 years. Ask him, if he has any fear or anyone left Shimla after Pulwama? None has fled Shimla after Pulwama I can

tell you authentically," he informed.

In Shimla town itself, there are nearly 7,000 to 8,000 Kashmiri porters, many of them living for past 25 to 30 years. None of them have left the town though few returned only in past two weeks spending their winters with families in Kashmir.

Reports from Kumarsen in Shimla district a scuffle took place with three Kashmiri Muslims when locals went to burn the effigy of Pakistan. The police intervention later resolved the issue.

Kashmiri Hoteliers and Shopkeepers, McLeodganj (Dharamshala) led by Javed, a Kashmiri businessman, issued a press release condemning Pulwama attack on CRPF personnel.

"Such attacks can't be justified at any cost, which is clearly an attempt to malign Kashmiri all over the world. We stand in solidarity with families of brave martyrs (CRPF personnel) and hope that guilty will be punished as par law," said the press release.

Javed asserted that they have been living peacefully at Dharamshala for 30 years to do their business. None of the locals ever tried to intimidate them. "None of the Kashmiri businessmen was ever involved in any anti-national activity," he assured.

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