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Kashmiris hoping to meet relatives across LoC

Anil Bhatt in Jammu | October 26, 2003 22:25 IST

The proposed bus service from Srinagar to Muzaffarabad in Pakistan occupied Kashmir has rekindled hope among Kashmiris of meeting their relatives across the Line of Control after a long wait.

"Our wish to meet our relatives in Muzaffarabad has received a fresh lease of life with the government's proposal," said 75-year-old Kishori Lal Sehgal, who fled Muzaffarabad after the tribal invasion from Pakistan in 1947.

Lal's family wants to visit his native place of Hatli Dopatta hamlet overlooking Muzaffarabad valley to meet his wife's brothers whom they have not seen for last 13 years.

"Kashi and Mohan (wife's brothers), then 10 years and 4 years old, (have converted) are now Gulam Rasool Shah and Farooq Ahmed. They were in constant touch with us sharing moments of grief and joy till 1990," lal, who lost several family members in the 1947 conflict, said showing letters and photographs of his relatives.

"They had visited us in 1988 and we took both brothers along with other family members to Hazratbal, where they offered prayers," Lal's son Vijay Sehgal said.

"We have not been able to communicate with each other for last 13 years due to militancy," he said.

"Opening of road link and bus service between two parts of J&K and interaction between people will help create an atmosphere of brotherhood and love," he said.

"The Centre should promote greater interaction between Kashmiris on the two sides so that those people (living in PoK) can realise for themselves who is better off," Ram Lal Verma, 87, said.

Verma, who ran a tailoring institute at Muzaffarabad, wants to meet the family members of Master Abdul Aziz, a Muslim Conference leader, 'who had saved hundreds of Hindus and Sikhs during 1947 conflict'.

"I want to thank his children," Verma said, recounting that Aziz was shot dead by the tribal raiders at the main chowk at Muzaffarabad for protecting Hindus and Sikhs.

"God willing, I will go in the first bus to see my daughter," said Noor Jehan, who has not met her daughter Zohra Iqbal, for last 14 years now.

Ninety-seven-year old Feroz Din, a resident of Ganda village near LoC, wants to meet his two friends Labbha Shah and Suddan Gujjar, now living in Mirpur area of PoK.

Like Feroz, Israr wants to visit his brother, who lives at Kotli Main Fetah across LoC.

Over 100,000 Hindus and Sikhs fled from PoK to Jammu and other Indian areas and the same number of Muslims from Jammu to PoK during 1947 conflict.

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