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Indian and Pakistani siblings reunite 75 years after split

#Indian #Pakistani #siblings #reunite #years #split

Tears of joy rolled down his shriveled cheeks as Indian Sika Khan met his Pakistani brother for the first time since they were separated by partition in 1947.

Sikh laborer Sika was just six months old when he and his older brother Sadiq Khan were torn apart as Britain divided the subcontinent at the end of colonial rule.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of partition, during which sectarian bloodshed killed possibly more than a million people, families like Sika’s were split apart and two independent nations – Pakistan and India – were created.

Sika’s father and sister were killed in communal massacres, but Sadiq, just 10 years old, managed to escape to Pakistan.

“Unable to take the trauma, my mother jumped into the river and killed herself,” Sika said at his simple brick home in Bhatinda, a district in the western Indian state of Punjab that has borne the brunt of partition violence.

“I was at the mercy of the villagers and some relatives who raised me.”

Ever since he was a child, Sika has longed to find out about his brother, the only surviving member of his family. But he didn’t make any progress until three years ago, when a doctor in the neighborhood offered to help him.

After numerous phone calls and the support of Pakistani YouTuber Nasir Dhillon, Sika was reunited with Sadiq.

The brothers finally met in January at the Kartarpur Corridor, a rare visa-free crossing that allows Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit a temple in Pakistan.

Opened in 2019, the corridor has become a symbol of unity and reconciliation for separated families, despite ongoing hostilities between the two nations.

“I’m from India and he’s from Pakistan, but we love each other so much,” Sika said, holding a faded and framed family photo.

“We hugged and cried so much when we first met. The countries can keep fighting. We don’t care about Indo-Pakistani politics.”

– trains full of corpses –

Pakistani farmer and real estate agent Dhillon, 38, a Muslim, says he has helped reunite about 300 families through his YouTube channel along with his friend Bhupinder Singh, a Pakistani Sikh.

“It’s not my source of income. It’s my inner love and passion,” Dhillon told AFP. “I feel like these stories are my own stories or my grandparents’ stories, so I feel like I’m fulfilling my own grandparents’ wishes by helping these elders.”

He said he was deeply moved by the Khan brothers and had done everything to ensure their reunion.

“When they were reunited in Kartarpur, not only I but about 600 people in the compound cried so much seeing the brothers reunited,” he told AFP in Faisalabad, Pakistan.

Millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims are believed to have fled when British administrators began dismantling their empire in 1947.

It is estimated that a million people were killed, although some have put the number twice as high.

Hindus and Sikhs fled to India while Muslims fled in the opposite direction.

Tens of thousands of women and girls were raped and trains carrying refugees between the two new nations arrived full of corpses.

– Love transcends –

The legacy of partition lingers to this day, which despite their cultural and linguistic ties has led to bitter rivalry between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

However, there is hope for love that transcends boundaries.

For Sikhs Baldev and Gurmukh Singh, they did not hesitate to embrace their half-sister Mumtaz Bibi, who was raised Muslim in Pakistan.

As a toddler, she was found next to her dead mother during the riots and adopted by a Muslim couple.

Her father, assuming his wife and daughter were dead, married his wife’s sister, as was the norm.

The Singh brothers learned their sister was alive through Dhillon’s channel and a random call to a shopkeeper in Pakistan.

The siblings finally met in the Kartarpur corridor earlier in the year and broke up when they were able to see each other for the first time in their lives.

“Our luck knew no bounds when we first saw her,” Baldev Singh, 65, told AFP. “What if our sister is a Muslim? The same blood flows in her veins.”

Mumtaz Bibi was equally thrilled when an AFP team met her in the city of Sheikhupura in Pakistan’s Punjab province.

“When I heard[from my brothers]I thought, God wants it. It’s God’s will and you have to bend to His will, and then He blessed me and I found my brothers,” she said.

“Finding the separated ones brings luck. My break up is over so I’m so happy.”

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#Indian #Pakistani #siblings #reunite #years #split

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