Srinagar, Aug 20: Jagdish Kumar Tandon, 76, has a far-fetched baggage to carry to Muzaffarabad if authorities allow him to travel again on the trans-Kashmir bus between the Indian and Pakistan administered parts. Tandon migrated with his family to Jammu in 1947 when he was 16. However, he had left behind his two cousins and had no idea about their welfare until a neighbor brought news of their survival in April 2005.
This neighbour had boarded the first Carvan-e-Aman bus to Muzaffarabad where he had met them.
Before migrating to Jammu in 1947, Tandon and his family of 12 lived in Hatya village in Muzaffarabad.
At the time of partition, Tandon had nine siblings including six sisters. In 1947, immediately after the subcontinent’s partition, ‘raiders’ looted the village and the entire family was given shelter by the Muslim neighbours.
The family was looked after seven months by village Muslims. Tandon and his family then took refuge in the local Red Cross camp. The Red Cross later helped them migrate 2to Jammu in 1948.
Tandon’s two cousins chose to remain in Pakistan administered Kashmir and settled there.
After some time the two brothers converted to Islam. They were rechristened Sheikh Ghulam Rasool and Mohammad Maqbool.
It was in April 2005, when the governments of India and Pakistan decided to start the bus service between the two parts of Kashmir that Tandon came to know about the communication between his adopted land and birth place.
He got emotional and applied for the documents to cross over to the other side of Kashmir but it was not to be as certain formalities came in his way.
Fortunately, one of his neighbours was granted permission and Tandon requested him to trace out the whereabouts of his relatives in Muzaffarabad. After a few months, Tandon was able to trace the relatives and once again applied to travel across.
This time he was fortunate to get the permission from the authorities.
It was a nostalgic experience for the elderly Tandon. He said that he could not believe himself for experiencing the smell of his motherland where he had spent 16 years of his life.
The meeting between Tandon and his cousins, who now are devout Muslims, was an emotional reunion.
Next day Tandon’s Muslim brothers threw a party for Tandon. The mood in the family was festive but party, which started with the recitation of Quran Khawani ended up in another disaster.
It was October 8, 2005. A deadly quake killed Tandon’s two brothers soon after a long-awaited reunion. Tandon was critically injured. For him the visit to Muzaffarabad after 58-years had brought joy, but a short lived one. Tragedy struck soon after.
Now Tandon has again applied to visit Muzaffarabad. He says that this time he does not know the purpose of his visit. [Daily Etalaat]
[Note: Since 1947, the State of Kashmir has been a disputed territory whose future is to be decided through a plebiscite held under the auspices of the United Nations. It comprises an area of 84,471 square miles and has a population of 15 million. It is divided into Indian-Occupied Kashmir (52,000 square miles) and Azad Jammu & Kashmir (32,000 square miles).
For the last 60 years, the families on both sides of divided Jammu & Kashmir have been trying hard to remain in touch with their relatives across the border. But since Indo-Pak tensions have become an increasingly frequent phenomenon it is difficult to do so.]
For decades people living on both sides have been awaiting the start of the bus service.