Suspected militants have killed 11 civilians, including five migrant workers, in Kashmir since early October despite a widespread crackdown on security in the heavily militarized region.
While the trigger for the latest wave of attacks was not immediately clear, Kashmir has been the scene of an armed insurgency against New Delhi for decades. Kashmir is fully claimed by India and Pakistan, but partly ruled by both.
“We have moved thousands of workers to safe places and are making it easier for them to return home,” a senior police official told Reuters, declining to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
In other areas, security forces have stepped up patrols to prevent any militant activity, the official added.
The decision to relocate workers came on Sunday after an attack on migrant workers in eastern Bihar state. Police said activists broke into a rented room in Kashmir’s Kulgam district and shot them, killing two and injuring one.
Kashmir has seen several episodes of violence over the years, but the latest wave of attacks appears to target non-Kashmiris, including migrant workers and members of the predominantly Muslim Hindu and Sikh minority communities in the valley.
The hundreds of thousands of migrant workers currently in Kashmir form the backbone of the region’s workforce in agriculture and construction.
Some of them said they now fear for their lives.
“We had worse times, but we were never targeted. This time we are afraid, ”said Mohammed Salam, 32, from Bihar, who has worked in Kashmir for six years.
Salam said police picked him and others from rented accommodation on Sunday night and moved them to a protected area.
“We cannot stand idly by here,” he said, “We will go back. “