Emotional fervour in PoK refugee colonies
11 May 2005
Jammu: As a group of seven PoK residents reached Rehari colony in the heart of the city, it took few minutes for the entire colony to come out and welcome the guests with open hearts. Every emotion expressed was spontaneous. The first maiden visit of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir residents to the present day residential day areas of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir refugees turned out to be a day of emotional outburst, ecstasy and re-unions. Thousands of Kashmiris had to migrate from various areas of Pakistan occupied Kashmir in 1947-48 after the tribal raid and they have settled down here in large numbers. There may have been little media spot light on this maiden visit by Pakistan occupied Kashmir residents to refugee colonies but it was in many ways an eye-opener and is set to explode many myths. As the political parties tried to infuse insecurities among the people that the PoK residents would re-claim their property under the Re-settlement Act, the visit clearly showed that vitality of a common culture and language was much more than issues of property. Hearty welcome As a group of seven PoK residents reached Rehari colony in the heart of the city, it took few minutes for the entire colony to come out and welcome the guests with open hearts. Strangely this time there were no government sponsored shows for the PoK residents unlike to the north of Pir Panjal and every emotion expressed was spontaneous. Chowdhary Mohammad Ilyas, advocate Supreme Court, Pakistan occupied Kashmir said, 'This has clearly showed that the people who left their homes more than five decades back have no ill will towards us and the bonds of history are still intact.' But what really caught the spotlight was the reunion of two childhood friends after a gap of 58 years. Anwar Sultana and Satya Devi, both in their 70s, had a tearful re-union as they hugged each other for several minutes. Even in the worst of India and Pakistan relations, the two continued to be in touch on telephone and through letters but they were unable to meet after destiny separated them. Anwar Sultana told The Hindu that it is hard to describe her feelings as she never thought she would be meeting her friend again. 'Our friendship has stood the test of time even when the relations between the two countries were at the ebb,' she added. What really impressed the PoK residents was the manner in which the refugees have retained their local language and culture even though they have left their native lands decades back. 'People living in these colonies share the same culture and language as us and we are feeling at home. We have learnt so many things coming here,' said Faiz Ahmed Chugtai ex-chairman Municipal Committee Kotli (town in PoK). Meanwhile, PoK residents have taken strong objections to the fears of some political parties that people across the Line of Control would re-claim the property left by them here several decades back. 'We have received abundant love from the people which we value far more than any piece of property that we might have left here,' said advocates Nisar Ahmed Mir and Hameed Akhtar, who came from Muzaffarabad on the inaugural bus service. They said they are well settled in the place to which they migrated and there is no reason for them to come back and settle down.