The recent killing of three non-Kashmiris in the Valley has sent shock waves among non-local transporters waiting to ferry apples out of the region. Apple traders Charanjeet Singh and Sanjay Charaya were attacked at Trenz in Shopian district by a group of three or four armed men around 7.30 pm on October 16. A local fruit grower rushed them to the district hospital in Pulwama, where Singh was declared dead on arrival. As Sanjay’s condition was critical, he was shifted to the SMHS hospital in Srinagar. Hailing from Punjab, Charanjeet and Sanjay had gone to Trenz, where 10 labourers from Punjab were loading boxes of apples on a truck.
Sanjay’s family flew to Srinagar on the morning of October 17 after they heard about the attack. Jaspal says all labourers from Punjab have gone back. Sanjay’s father, Jaspal Charaya, says “unknown gunmen” fired three bullets at his son. “Doctors say it will take him at least six months to recover,” he adds. For the past few years, Sanjay had been transporting apples from the Valley to Punjab and other places. His uncle Subhas Chandar is in the fruit business and sends his vehicles and labourers to the Valley. “It is tragic that the Kashmiri fruit grower who risked his life to take Sanjay to the hospital is being summoned by the police,” Subhas tells Outlook, adding that the name of the fruit grower should not be revealed as he might then be targeted by the “unknown gunmen”. This familiarity with the Kashmir situation in Sanjay’s family comes from years of trade relations with Kashmiris.