By Sajjad Kargili
Kargil: After 47 years, a mother and daughter met in Chulunkha village of Turtuk in Leh district. They had become separated by the Line of Control between Pakistani and Indian territories during the India-Pakistan war of 1971.
Zaiba, 46, was a teenager when she was separated from her mother in December
1971 after the Indian Army captured Chulunkha village, which was until then part of Gnagchey district of Pakistan-administered Baltistan.
Zaiba began to live in Manthal area of Skardu city in Baltistan. This is the area where most of those displaced from Kargil and Leh regions of India live.
Zaiba’s Mother Khatija, also known as Api Khati, is 92 years old now. She became very emotional when she met her daughter after such a long time.
“The people of Neelum Valley in PaK are allowed to cross the LoC and meet their families,” Zaiba said. “We thought it would be the same for us in Gilgit-Baltistan, but both governments don’t seem keen on that.”
Zaiba said she used to listen to her mother’s audio cassettes and exchange with her photographs and letters in the past 47 years.
People living in Turtuk valley are now visiting Chulunkha to meet the people of the divided family who have visited after a long time.
The people of Turtuk said that that they face a lot of problems getting a visa to visit their relatives across the LoC.
Speaking on phone, Ghulam Hussain Gullu from Turtuk Tyakshi, said, “This is one aspect of the sufferings of divided families and there is a need to think over it and to open these routes as soon as possible.”
The issue of families divided by the Line of Control in Ladakh (Kargil-Leh) and Gilgit Balistan (PaK) is an unaddressed one. There are more than 15 thousand divided
families. Many families have lost a generation without seeing their family members across the LoC. People of the region have been demanding opening of the traditional Kargil-Skardu, Turtuk-Khapulu, and Gultari-Drass routes for trade and travel on humanitarian grounds. But no one in India and Pakistan seems to be ready to answer their demands.
By Sajjad Kargili