The Opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal attacked chief minister Nitish Kumar on Monday after two more workers from Bihar were shot dead by militants in Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday evening, the latest in a series of attacks on non-locals in the Union Territory.
Raja Rishideo and Yogendra Rishideo, hailing from Araria district of Bihar, were killed in Kulgam on Sunday. Another labourer from the state, Chunchun Rishideo, was seriously injured in the incident. The killings came a day after a Bihari golgappa vendor and a carpenter from Uttar Pradesh were killed in two separate attacks in the Valley.
Four people from Bihar have been killed in Kashmir since October 5, and the Opposition and the ruling alliance leaders fired salvos at each other over the worrisome development.
RJD leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav wrote a scathing letter to Nitish on Monday, blaming him and his government squarely for the killings.
“You and your incapable government are responsible for the killing of all these people of Bihar. Crores of people from the state would not have been forced to migrate had your government seriously done something to create employment in the last 16 years according to the claims of ‘good governance’…,” the RJD leader said in his letter.
Tejashwi, also the leader of the Opposition in the state, suggested that the Nitish government should not only pray with folded hands before the families of the deceased workers for forgiveness, but also provide a government job and compensation of Rs 1 crore to the kin of the victims.
“You and your double-engine troublemaker government are responsible for the killing of innocent Biharis by terrorists. Your government had claimed that repealing Article 370 was a historic decision that would end terrorism and supported it. May be such baseless claims influenced the labourers to go to Jammu and Kashmir,” Tejashwi wrote.
The younger son of RJD chief Lalu Prasad later stressed in a post on social media that people are not able to get employment in Bihar and are killed if they go outside the state.
Tejashwi also questioned the state government’s decision to give Rs 2 lakh as compensation to the families of the victims at a time when the kin of people dying from snakebites and lightning were being given Rs 4 lakh.
Chief minister Nitish expressed grief and concern over the attack that could lead to an exodus of a large number of people from Bihar working in Kashmir. He also pointed out that people have the right to go and work anywhere in the country.
“This is one nation. Kashmir is also a part of it. Everybody has a right to work anywhere in the country. We have been trying to ensure that people of the state stay here and work, but nobody can impose a ban on anyone so that he cannot go to any other part of the country. It is his right and he cannot be deprived of it,” Nitish said while alluding to Article 19 of the Constitution, which allows citizens to move freely throughout the territory of India and to practise any profession or to carry any occupation, trade or business, among other freedoms.
Nitish said that he had called up Jammu and Kashmir lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha after getting information about the death of the two workers from the state.
“He (Sinha) also seemed to be worried. I expressed my concerns because three such incidents happened with the people of Bihar in Kashmir. Sinha asserted that he was seeing over everything,” Nitish added.
The chief minister sought action over the incidents and said: “We hope they (Jammu and Kashmir government) will stay alert and make arrangements for their security. It seems somebody is doing this to deliberately chase them (labourers) away.”
Nitish also asserted that the government in Kashmir “will have to work more strongly so that nobody is able to do such things. The people and political parties there have also expressed worry over the incidents”.
Senior Bihar officials are in touch with their counterparts in Jammu and Kashmir over the emerging situation.
Meanwhile, Hindustani Awam Morcha Secular founder and former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, who claims to be the leader of Dalits in the state, expressed grief over the incident.
“I am pained over the continuous killing of our unarmed brothers from Bihar in Kashmir. I request Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah that if the situation is not improving then give the responsibility of Kashmir to the people of Bihar. We will improve it in 15 days,” Manjhi said.
A pall of gloom has descended at Dah Tola under Baunsi police station and Khairuganj under Nagar police station, the native villages of Raja and Yogendra, respectively. The family members of the two slain workers were inconsolable.
Officials from the local administration have informed the family members about the efforts to bring back their bodies.