Srinagar: Lack of work opportunities due to ongoing unrest and curfew in Kashmir has forced thousands of migrant labourers to leave the valley in search of livelihood in other parts of the country.
Minutes after sundown every day, hundreds of labourers--who come from different states in north and east of the country--make their way to Tourist Reception Centre here to catch the first available bus or taxi heading to Jammu.
"We have had no work for the last 15 days due to the ongoing turmoil in Kashmir which was preceded by two days of Eid holidays," Vijay Kumar from Bihar told PTI as he waited to board a bus to Jammu last night.
Kumar, who was putting up in a rented accommodation at Rambagh in the civil lines of the area of the city, said while he and his room-mates faced no problems from the locals, lack of work opportunities forced them to leave the valley.
"There is limited working season in Kashmir and we come here to earn money to feed our families back home. We are not able to find any work due to the prevailing situation," Sitaram, Kumar's room-mate, said.
An estimated five lakh migrant labourers from Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab come to Kashmir every spring for work and return to their homes with the onset of winter, when the working season ends.
"We get good wages in Kashmir which is the main reason why so many young workers from my state (Bihar) come here every year. But it seems that the situation is not going to normalise anytime soon," Narayan, a carpenter, said.
The labourers were unanimous that they did not face any problems during the past 12 days of unrest in the Valley.
"We have been coming here every year. So far, we have not encountered any problems with locals. We are not into politics... We just come to work," Narayan said.
A similar situation was witnessed in the wake of 2010 summer agitation when the migrant labourers fled the valley to look for work in other parts of the country....