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Posted at: Aug 13, 2019, 7:06 AM; last updated: Aug 13, 2019, 7:06 AM (IST)

Unable to go home on festival, Kashmiris fear for their families

Shimla, August 12

Contrary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assurance during his address to the nation recently, Kashmiris in Shimla were not able to go to their native places to celebrate Eid with their families. 

After PM Modi’s assurance that those staying outside Kashmir would be provided every possible help to reach their homes for the Eid celebrations, Kashmiris working in the state capital said they were not allowed to go beyond Jammu. 

A resident of Anantnag, Irshad Ahmed said around 30 Kashmiris had left for their homes in two tempo-travellers around 7 am on Wednesday, a day before the PM’s address last week, but they were not allowed to go beyond Jammu. 

“We talked to them over cellphone at 10 pm on Thursday. They informed us that security forces didn't allow them go beyond Nagrota in Jammu district," he added. 

Irshad and his brother Parvej came to Shimla about seven years ago, where their father Bashir Ahmed is staying for over three decades. They work as coolies.   They, along with around 400 Kashmiris, are staying at Jama Masjid near The Mall in Shimla.  

At present, around 7,000 Kashmiris are living in the state capital.   A majority of them work as labourers. Some of them run dhabas and tea shops.  

"We go to our homes in Kashmir to celebrate Eid with our families every year, but this time we are unable to go there," said Farooq Ahmed of Pulwama district.  Besides, they are worried about their families.  

“We are unable to talk to our families for over a week as telecom services have been suspended in the Valley. If the government has taken this step (revocation of provisions of Article 370 and 35-A) for our welfare, then why they have suspended telecom services," said aged Gulam Hasan. 

Mohd Amin Ahmed, who runs a mobile shop outside Jama Masjid, said telecom services should immediately be restored in Kashmir.  

 Born and brought up in Shimla, 40-year-old Shabnam Gohar is worried about her relatives in Srinagar.  

A well-educated daughter of the owner of Naaz Dhaba in Jama Masjid, Shabnam said, “I am concerned about my sister who is working with the SBI and was shifted to Srinagar from Chandigarh. She left for Srinagar on August 5 when provisions of Article 370 were revoked. We don't know about her whereabouts."  As far as the government decision is concerned, they gave a mixed response.  — PTI

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