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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Indian Sikh women meets Muslim sons after 59 years

Harbans Kaur with her sons
The story of Harbans Kaur is just one of the thousands of untold stories of partition of the sub-continent.

It is a tale of unimaginable suffering and the ordeal a woman went through for over half-a-century. Kaur, 75, a Sikh woman finally met her sons after 59 years.

The story had begun when her family was leaving Pakistan at the time of partition. On way, she was attacked by a kin. She survived the violence.

Saved by a Muslim, she lived with a family in Pakistan, while the rest reached India. In Muzaffarabad, a few years later, the Muslim man who had adopted him, married her off to a Muslim.

She was married to Sakhiullah and had two sons, Karamatullah and Qudratullah, from him. However, ordeal had only begun then, as a few years later pact for exchange of abandoned women began.

Muslim women from India were to be taken to Pakistan and Hindu-Sikh women to be brought to India. After Nehru-Liaqat pact, the army sent her out from pakistan as she was termed a 'foreigner'. Her sons, who were six and seven years old then, remained in Pakistan.

Her husband, an armyman Sakhiullah, could not stop her forced deportation, despite his best efforts. She was finally handed over to her family who arranged her marriage with one, Sikh, Kaur Singh, in India. Kaur Singh died a few years later.

All these years Harbans Kaur, who was living in Mumbai,  dreamt that one day she would see her sons again but had no idea how to search them. Two years back she went to Pakistan on pilgrimage to Panja Sahib where she met another pilgrim Jassi Singh, on whose taviz, she could read the word 'Muzaffarabad'.

Singh promised to her that he would do his best to look for her sons. In 2005, he ultimately succeeded [a professor recognised the old photo given by her[ and Kaur spoke to her sons on phone.

Once again she applied for visa. The mother and sons met after nearly 60 years during the Guru Nanak's birth anniversary celebrations. Now Kaur's sons don't want her to go back but the duration of visa has expired. Politics is standing between the mother and her sons.

Poet Zahida Hina narrated this emotional story. 'When a Samjhauta Express' will be run for such Hindu, Sikh and Muslim women in India and Pakistan', she asks, adding that 'in rishtoN ke saamne mazhab, reet-rivaaj sab haar jaate haiN'.