As the Indo-Pakistan relations continue to deteriorate after surgical strikes by Indian troops across the LOC, a family here is in fear as it has five daughters married in Pakistan.
This is not for the first time that the family is living in the shadow of fear. Each time both nations take aggressive postures towards each other, the family suffers.
“Avaam nahi chahti ke jung ho, sirf afsar chahte hain (public doesn’t won’t war only officers want). My five daughters are married in Pakistan and it’s been almost seven years I have seen them. I am unwell and aged now and crave to see them once and want my family to be together, but if a war happens this would never be possible. This scenario has given us sleepless nights,” says 80-year-old Suraiya Butt who, with her son Rafiq Ahmed Butt and her daughter-in-law Tanveer Butt, lives inside the Hall Gate here.
This Muslim family had been headed by late Mohammad’s Younis who came to India after partition in 1953 and married Suraiya, who hails from Amritsar. He ran a dhabha in Hall Bazar which is now run by his son Rafiq.
STRAINED INDO-PAK TIES KEEP SIBLINGS APART
Rafiq shared the pictures of his five sisters, who he hasn’t met for years now.
“First borders divided us, then embassies that always create a lot of hassles in issuing visas and now if a war happens between the two countries, I will be deprived of meeting my sisters and relatives in Pak,” he said. “My sisters are married in Lahore, Karachi and Quetta. They went across borders in 80’s and 90’s but while marrying them neither my father thought and nor I that relations would some day reach a level that we have to beg the embassies of letting us meet,”
Rafiq said. He said,” It is so unfortunate that artist delegations and other VIP delegations keep moving to and fro even in tense situations but families like us suffer.” Rafiq said that till 2010, when his father was alive, he (father) used to make efforts to go to meet his sisters, but now things are not the same.
He mother added, ‘ Na edhar ki sarkaar ko farak padhta hai , na udhar ki, agar farak padta hai toh hume padta hai’ (neither are the government’s in Pakistan and nor in India affected, the real sufferers are we who are desperate to meet our children).
Saba Butt, daughter of Rafiq, who is preparing for IAS exam, says she is 18-year-old and till date has not seen all five aunties.
‘TECHNOLOGY BRINGS THEM TOGETHER’
Saba then makes the HT team talk to her youngest aunty Shabnam Samriaz in Pakistan and Shabnam telephonically tells HT, “I have been trying to come to India for seven years, but can’t make it as I did not get a visa. What is my fault if I am married here? We all five sisters at times feel why were we sent across border if it was so tough to meet our family in India? Mother cries on the phone and asks me to come, but I am stuck here.”
“Now if relations get worse and trains, buses linking us with India also stop, then what will we do? Already at embassies, we have been told that now as we are Pakistan nationals why do we want to go there? What kind of replies are these? If a daughter married in USA and UK can come to meet there families aren’t we someone’s daughters? Even when our father expired we were deprived to come home. ”
“Calling Pakistan costs Rs 15 per minute. Being from a middle class family, we cannot afford long conversations, thus we prefer video chats with our sisters,” added Rafiq.