Srinagar: As apple plucking season is at its peak in Kashmir, security has been beefed up in these zones. 
The move comes after militants killed an apple trader and injured a truck driver in Shopian last Wednesday. Earlier on the same day, labour from Chattisgarh was killed in neighbouring Pulwama district.
 
Non-local traders and truckers have been moved to secured locations like the bus stand, fruit mandi and DC office in Shopian district of South Kashmir.
 “The atmosphere is good, we have been kept in safe locations, there is enough police protection”, said Mahindra Bisht truck driver from Rajasthan. “Security arrangements are good; we can move the product out of the mandi without any problems.”
However, the series of killings have triggered fear in the middle of apple harvesting season in Kashmir.
Ramesh Kumar, a driver from Rajasthan at the fruit mandi in Sopore, said, “Since the fruit mandi remains closed these days, we use it to park our trucks. We take our trucks to the orchards to load the fruit. We park our trucks in the mandi. All truckers from other states stay together in the mandi. Security is most important for us.”
About 500 trucks filled with apples move out of Kashmir to different fruit mandis of the country daily. Non-locals run most trucks.

Advisor to Governor Farooq Khan said, “The shutdown in Kashmir is waning that’s the reason militants are resorting to such desperate moves. Whenever something good is done in Kashmir, Pakistan tries to foil it. There is already enough security in South Kashmir, but security will be further beefed up to ensure that people associated with the apple trade get enough protection”.
Police sources say that the killings of non-locals just shows the frustration of militants and indicates to a pattern.
The police have put out posters in some areas of south Kashmir, of militants who they believe are involved in the killings of the non-locals.
Ensuring the smooth transport of apple produce outside Kashmir remains a big challenge for the administration in the aftermath of the scrapping of Article 370.

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