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135 'final journeys' from Pak end after 40 years

Last updated on: January 21, 2011 21:08 IST

135 'final journeys' from Pak end after 40 years

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These 15 people have come a long way. They have not bridged just the 1,100 kilometers dividing Karachi and Delhi and the two-day travel. This group of Hindus from across the border has been waiting for 40-long years to bring the ashes of fellow Hindus, who could not make it to Haridwar to take a dip in the Ganga in their lifetime, reports Sahim Salim.

For 40 years, they have been pleading with the Pakistani and Indian governments to let them take the ashes to Ganga so that these 135-odd remains could free their souls.

And their wait has not gone in vain. On Friday morning, for the first time since the partition of India and Pakistan, 15 Hindus based in Karachi alighted at the Old Delhi railway station with the mortal remains of 135 of their brethren.

Two Chinese men and a Buddhist traveler, who had died in Karachi and cremated according to Hindu traditions, also found their place amongst the 135.

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Image: The delegation of Pakistani Hindus with Kalkaji temple Mahant Surendra Nath Avadhoot (2nd left) in New Delhi
Photographs: Sahim Salim/Rediff.com
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"It is a historic moment. We have been waiting for this day for so long. Now the souls of these 135 brothers and sisters can finally attain moksha. The remains of 135 people cremated at the Hindu Cremation Ground Association since 1975 have finally been brought in to Delhi. They will be transported to Haridwar in the coming few weeks," Maharaj Ram Nath Mishra, the president of the Lahore Hindu Cremation Ground Association, who led the delegation, told rediff.com.

The association has been collecting the remains since 1975 with the hope that someday they could be brought to Haridwar. Of these 135 remains, 80 are ashes of unknown people collected at the association, while the rest were at the houses of their respective families.

It all began four years ago, when a local Karachi journalist forwarded his article about these remains to Devothan Sewa Samiti, a Delhi-based organisation which has been taking the remains of unidentified or unclaimed bodies to the pilgrim city annually for the past eight years.

"In this article, we came to know about the ordeal of these Hindus. Since relations between India and Pakistan has been cordial for the past some years, we tried to bank on this point. Our president, Anil Narendra started sending letters to the Prime Minister, the Finance Minister and the Pakistan High Commission explaining about their ordeal in getting visas to finish the last rites of their loved ones. They finally responded positively and granted 15 visas to Pakistani Hindus to bring these ashes to Delhi," Vijay Sharma, the general secretary of the samiti, told rediff.com.


Image: Maharaj Ram Nath Mishra (2nd left) with Kalkaji Mahant in New Delhi
Photographs: Sahim Salim/Rediff.com
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135 'final journeys' from Pak end after 40 years

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Of this 15-people delegation, three were issued 30-days visas for Haridwar, while the rest are free to travel across India during their stay. The three have already gone to Haridwar, while the rest are staying with the Mahant of Kalkaji Temple in the capital.

"We accompanied our parents. We have only heard about Ganga and Haridwar from our parents. We will finally be able to see it. We are very happy to be here," an excited eight-year-old Kabir Kumar, who is among the three children in the delegation, said.

12-year-old Urmila Vinod nods her head with appreciation, while her 14-year-old sister Mahima chipped in, "It is so nice to be in India. The people here are very nice. We are very excited to go to Haridwar."

What's more, the delegation has been asked by the Pakistan high commission to bring back a video of the trip. If they are satisfied, they have promised the delegation that the remains of Hindus cremated in Kot Lakhpat jail in Pakistan(where Sarabjit Singh is lodged) will be allowed to be transported to Haridwar.


Image: Kabir Kumar with his father
Photographs: Sahim Salim/Rediff.com
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"This is just the beginning. If this trip goes successfully, we will also answer to the calls from our brothers and sisters in Bangladesh. Let's first make this trip successful and then we want to take it forward from there," general secretary Vijay Sharma said.

"We are thankful to the local Pakistani media, our brothers here at Devothan Sewa Samiti and the Mahant of Kalkaji Temple, Maharaj Surender Nath Avdooth for their efforts in making this trip possible. Every Hindu from across the world dreams of taking a dip in the Ganga. If they are unable to do that, it is upto us to take their remains to the holy river," an emotional Ram Nath Mishra, who is also the Mahanth of Panchmukhi Hanuman Temple in Karachi, said.

For now, these remains have been kept at Nigambodh Ghat in Delhi. It will be decided after a meeting on Saturday when this delegation will travel to Haridwar.

 

 


Image: Kalkaji Mahant with Urmila and Mahima
Photographs: Sahim Salim/Rediff.com
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