Divided Families Urge India, Pak To Allow Kashmir Reunion

Divided Families Urge India, Pak To Allow Kashmir Reunion

10 June 2012
Kashmir Observer


Keran: Hundreds of Kashmiris on Sunday staged an emotional demonstration to urge India and Pakistan to allow reunion of thousands of divided families living in two parts of divided Kashmir. On the Pakistani side, tearful relatives waved across the gushing Neelum, which divides Kashmir between the two countries, to their family on the Indian side, using loudspeakers to try to speak to them, an AFP photographer said. But the deafening roar of the river, about 200 feet wide at the village of Keran, was too loud for the cries to carry across to the Indian side. About 600 men and women gathered by the river in Keran, about 90 kilometres northeast of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir. The gathering, called by nationalists, was a rare occasion - the authorities do not normally allow such events on the river. For Ashraf Jan, who left her mother and father to come to Muzaffarabad with her aunt in 1947, it was almost too much. Overwhelmed with emotion, Jan had to be stopped by relatives from jumping in the furious river to try to reach her ageing parents on the Indian side. Let me go. I just want to see my parents and after that if I die, I will be in peace, she said. Police and military on the Indian side did not allow Kashmiris to come near the river bank and they were left to wave from a distance. Though Kashmiris can cross the border via a special bus service started in 2005, it requires lengthy clearance procedures at both sides, meaning few go. Arif Shahid, president of the Jammu Kashmir National Liberation Conference, urged India and Pakistan to divert their military spending to help poor people in both countries. India and Pakistan are wasting money on arms when millions of people have to sleep without any meal every night. They should withdraw troops from Kashmir and liberate us so that they are able to work for the welfare of their citizens, Shahid said.