Amid escalation in tension in border areas following the surgical strikes carried out by the Indian troops across the Line of Control (LoC), Hindu and Sikh families who have been living in ‘Mini Peshawar’ in Amritsar after migrating from Pakistan stand united to pray for peace in Punjab.
‘Mini Peshawar’, a locality near Chheharta, houses around 250 families of Hindus and Sikhs who moved from Peshawar in Pakistan in 1950s and later. Leading a peaceful life after their migration, these people say in one voice: “War is no solution.”
“In 1947, Punjab cried for the first time. The wounds were not even healed when people in the border state had to witness Indo-Pak wars in 1965 and 1971. We cannot forget the time when we saw people in Partap Nagar locality and Chheharta dying due to bombarding,” say Anoop Chand Chopra and Dev Raj Narang, busy supervising development works at a temple in their locality.
“Our fathers came to India in 1956. Since then our families have been working hard to establish ourselves. The journey hasn’t been a cake walk,” they say, adding that they and Punjab have already suffered a lot and do not deserve any more disturbance.
The residents say those who migrated to India had to work very hard. Some even worked as labourers and rickshaw-pullers. As the industrial sector was hit during disturbance in Punjab in 1980s, they too had to suffer. They say after a long they, people are seeing better days and some even own their own businesses.
Pyaare Lal Narang, another resident who was accompanying the two, said when his family migrated to India, there were just 70 families residing in the locality. “With time, the number of families has crossed 250. Many are now affluent, kids of some have shifted to metropolitan cities and some have also moved abroad,” he says.
PAKISTAN TAG A HISTORY
Many families residing at ‘Mini Peshawar’ had migrated to India in 1950s. Some people have moved here as recent as a decade ago. For the third-generation migrants, the Pakistan tag is a history now.
“Our grandfathers were born in Pakistan, but we were born in Amritsar. Even our children took birth here; so we all belong to India now. Our next generation won’t even know about Pakistan, as we hardly have any connection with it. The only thing we carry along is the Peshawari dialect. But even that is restricted to our mutual conversations,” says Rajkumar Arora, who runs a grocery shop.
Radhika Arora, his daughter, thanks her grandfathers for taking the right decision at the right hour to move to India. “It’s good they brought us to India, as we get to know that Hindus across the border are not living in a good condition. Even girls are not free to move around and pursue higher education,” she says, adding that she wants to become a police officer and serve the nation.
AN EXAMPLE OF HINDU-SIKH UNITY
Hindu and Sikh families have been living peacefully in the locality. “This locality was bought for almost Rs 80,000 and everyone contributed to it. Today it is priceless for us, as we all live here in peace,” says Anoop Chand Chopra. “Most of us are Hindus, but we celebrate all Sikh festivals too. For us only peace matters,” adds Dev Raj Narang.
The residents visit religious places of each other’s faith in the locality and even Hindus have been joining their Sikh neighbours during pilgrimage to historical gurdwaras in Pakistan. They say this link with the neighbouring nation should never be broken.