LoC And The Scars Of Separation

LoC And The Scars Of Separation

12 January 2013
Other
Ashutosh Sharma

Poonch: The recent breach of ceasefire along the Line of Control in Mendhar sector of Poonch district that led to the brutal killing of two soldiers on Indian side and one on Pakistani side has exposed the vulnerability of peace talks and confidence building measures between the two countries.Members of divided families and pacifists on both sides of the line of conflict are deeply disturbed over the suspension of LoC bus service and trade in the aftermath of the killings. Anger and angst define the mood on both the sides. There has been a chorus of demand on this side that India should teach a lesson to Pakistan and many people on the other side hold the same grudge against India. Perhaps people belonging to this section have failed to learn any lessons from the mayhem of partition and human miseries resulting from the subsequent wars. In the cacophony of one-up-man-ship, voices of members of divided families living on both the sides seem to be lost. However, they have unarguably been the worst sufferers of the partition and hostile India-Pakistan relations. Not far away from the de facto border where the bloodshed happened, in village Nakka Manjhari, Baag Hussain (80) narrates story of his life at his humble home. “I clandestinely crossed over to the other side (Pakistan-administered Kashmir) to meet my wife and children living in Kotli,” he recalls with a twinkle in his eyes. “I was caught by the security forces of Pakistan as I was trying to sneak into this side on my return. I was jailed for one year and later expatriated in 1988.” “They got separated from me during 1965 war. Thereafter, we lost touch with each other. I did not marry for 10-15 years and was living like a loner wandering from place to place. Being compelled by relatives and circumstances, I decided to remarry later. Many years after my second marriage, I came to know about my first family in PaK. I could not stop myself from visiting them.” According to Baag Hussain, his first wife died a few years ago in PaK but he could not take part in her burial rites, a regret he says he will have till his death. “My children in PaK have applied for the bus permit. The verifications have been long over on this side, yet they have not been given the permission,” he says. Urging governments on both sides, the old man says, “The bus service should not be targeted. People like us ought to be treated fairly by both sides, we have already suffered for long.” What does war mean? One needs to ask this question to the people who became its victims. A few among them were fortunate to meet their loved ones though after a life time of separation, yet there are many who are still waiting to get clearance from either side to visit each other across the LoC through the bus service. The bus service was started in 2006 with an intention to address this humanitarian crisis. The sporadic reunions brought out many touching stories which make us think about ramifications of war on human life even after it is long over. Like many such elderly people, 93-year-old Anara Begum migrated to Pakistan along with her husband, Navab Khan alias Babu Khan and three daughters in 1965. However, she could only return to meet her only son after a gap of nearly 44 years in April 2009. Though the cross-LoC permit allowed her to stay only for a month in this part of the state, she moved the court seeking permission to stay here with her only son, Rashid who lives in Jhullas village near LoC in Poonch district for the rest of her life. During her stay in PaK, her parents died here but she could not attend their burial rites. She could not participate in the wedding ceremony of her only son. Her brothers and a sister died here but the news of their demise reached her too late across the border. She recalls that when she left for Pakistan her son, Rashid was about ten years old but when she came back, he was a grandfather of three children. “Rashid was chronically ill so I handed him over to my parents and went off with my husband and three daughters hoping that we would return soon,” she explains. “My husband died a decade ago. I had married off my daughters and there was no one to look after me in this age. When I reached here, I was almost blind. My son Rashid got my eyes operated and now I can see things clearly. For the first time when I visited the graves of my parents here, I could not see them. I could just feel it only with my hands.” Expressing her wish, Anara Begum says, “I spent all my life in turbulence but I want to die peacefully here. I wish to be buried by my son alongside the graves of my parents.” “My husband would regret his decision of leaving our ailing son here,” she says with watery eyes. “After our relocation, he lived and died with the same sense of remorse.” Besides many other relatives, Anara Begum has a younger brother and a sister who live in the nearby villages. Another such petitioner, Qazi Illam Din who came to village Rajpura in tehsil Mandi of Poonch district in September 2008 also died in February 2009 during the pendency of case. He too remained incommunicado with his family here since 1965. As per his final wish, he was buried in the same graveyard where his elders were laid to rest. The LoC bus service is the only ray of hope for hundreds of divided families to meet with their loved ones. Even amidst the darkness of hostilities, the ray should not lose its sheen. Being a problem itself, war cannot be a solution to any problem. Renowned Urdu scholar and progressive poet, Ali Sardar Jafri says in his celebrated poem ‘Guftagu’. Guftugu bandh na ho, baat se baat chalay, Subah tak Shaam-e-mulaqaat chalay, hum pe hansti hui taaron bhari ye raat chalay…haath mein haath liye…regzaron ke aadavat ke guzar jayeinge, Khoon ke daryon se hum paar utar jaayenge (Keep the conversation going, one word leading to another, the evening rendezvous lasting till dawn, the starry night laughing down with us. …holding hands…we shall cross the deserts of hatred, and ford the rivers of blood). Despite border disturbances and military issues, peace dialogue must continue. In another masterpiece, Subh-e-Farda (The morning of tomorrow), the poet says: Ye sarhad….mehakti, jagmagaati, ik dulhan ki maang ki surat, ki jo baalon ko taqssem to dau hisson mein taqseem to karti hai, magar sindoor ki talwaar se, sandal ki ungli se…….wo din aaye yeh sarhad bosa-e-lab ban ke reh jaye. (Instead of slithering like a snake on the bosom of our land, a border could be like parting in a bride’s hair-which does divide the hair, but with sword of vermilion, the loving finger of sandalwood. I wish for the day when border becomes the kiss of lips).