Leave alone the common people, even the Non-Governmental Organisations that talk about changing the system keep a safe distance from them
Within their own country they are viewed at with suspicion. Leave alone the common people, even the Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) that talk about changing the system keep a safe distance from them.
They are no aliens nor anti-social elements, but Kashmiris from Baramulla and Anantanag districts of the valley. Like migratory birds, a couple of hundred families come to the city each year to save themselves from the harsh weather conditions prevailing there, but end up facing a lot of discrimination.
If finding some shelter is a major problem for them, then no helping hand in the very own country they belong to is an insult added to injury.
“No NGO or organisation comes forward to help us. As we are regular to the city, we come and put up tents at a few places and stay till the end of the winter season,” says a youngster, who did not want to be named.
It is said that the NGOs are afraid of landing in trouble. “Most of the NGOs avoid helping them due to the prevailing perception of Kashmiris being involved in some anti-national activities,” says an office bearer of a noted NGO working in old city, also seeking anonymity.
Most of them claim to be master carpet weavers but not many find work in the capital.
“Though we are ready to work we do not get any. People are afraid of us. At the most, they donate some money and cloths and we survive on it,” says Farooq, a middle-aged man staying in a camp at Falaknuma.
The families including children spend their nights in tents made up of bed sheets and saris.
Hardly does the material protect them from the cold weather here.
“But somehow we try to manage with it,” says a woman.
However, the police and intelligence agencies are on alert during this period. They check every individual and keep strict vigil on the two camps where they stay.
“Recently, a team of policemen visited the camps and video-graphed us, but we are not afraid as we are peace-loving people,” says Ahmed, a middle-aged man.