Hopes of divided families shattered
8 November 2003
Our Staff Reporter
Jammu: The hopes of thousands of divided families living in Jammu and Kashmir have been shattered following the Pakistan Government's decision to impose riders to the opening of the Muzaffarabad-Uri road network. The Centre's proposal rekindled hopes of an early reunion among the divided families on both sides and several such families contacted the passport authorities for getting their papers ready. The ceasefire line, which later came to be known as the Line of Control, virtually divided thousands of families in the border areas of Jammu and Kashmir. In 1948, two brothers of Harbans Singh, Parmjeet Singh and Bhagat Singh, were left behind in Rawlakot part of the Pakistan- Occupied Kashmir during the 1947 riots when their family, like millions of others, came to India. Their family tried to bring back the two but could not. A Muslim friend adopted them and provided them education. Harbans Singh was in constant touch with his brothers, but due to hostilities between the two countries it became impossible for him to contact them. Harbans Singh says that 'when the proposal came from the Central Government to open the Uri-Muzaffarabed road network I called up my brothers who were excited about it. They asked me to make immediate arrangements for coming there in the first bus. But our joy was short-lived. I do not think these fences of hatred will go during my lifetime. It seems our generation has been cursed'.Similar is the story of divided families on the plains of Jammu and Punjab province of Pakistan. Showkat and his family was excited when they heard the proposal as it brightened the prospects of his meeting his sister living in Sialkot which is 11 km from Jammu. 'We were looking for the road networks to open between the two countries. No political leadership has the right to separate a sister from her brother. It is sad the political leadership is insensitive to our plight,' he says.Reacting to Pakistan's decision, the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, said 'this was a sincere offer by us to the Pakistan leadership. It seems they (Pakistan) are afraid to open the road links between the two countries and also with Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. Reason; they will be exposed before the people of Jammu and Kashmir.'