February 2006 News

Separated, but just a few km away

21 February 2006
The Hindu
Luv Puri

Sera (Kotli): The humanitarian tragedy of divided families is still continuing in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir as thousands of people are still waiting to be reunited with their kith and kin though five crossing points have been opened. Every family on either side of the LoC here has a sad tale to tell ever since the ceasefire line was drawn in 1947- 48. Living just a few kilometres from the LoC, Iftikar Hussian, an aged Kotli resident, breaks down as he narrates his last wish to meet his only brother living hardly eight km from here. The circumstances under which Hussian left his home five decades ago were such that he could not even bid a decent farewell to his family. Zahid Baig, who has an uncle across the LoC, says: 'The authorities on both sides should devise a speedy mechanism for giving permission to the people anxiously waiting to meet their relatives on the other side. There is lot of mistrust on both sides.' Baig's parents have not met their relatives in Rajouri area since 1965. The authorities on both sides are indulging in a blame game. Assistant Commissioner, Kotli, Navid told The Hindu : 'We have sent 400 permits to the other side of the LoC for clearance and there are still 3,000 applications pending with us.'


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