Skardu: Families separated during 1971 war reunite after 43 years

Special Correspondent

Skardu, March 29: Four people reached Skardu today to reunite with their families after 43 years. These divided families belong to three villages – Turtuk, Chulanka, Tiyaqshi, that had been occupied by the Indian forces then.

The four people reached Skardu on a flight today. They had reached Islamabad from UAE, where they had flown from Delhi, the Indian capital. The alternate route between Skardu and Kargil remains closed for several decades, while divided families on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) remain separated.

The family members offering prayers at a grave after meeting at the airport (Inset)
The family members offering prayers at a grave after meeting at the airport (Inset)

A lady named Shah Jahan fainted due to a mix of intense shock, happiness and grief on seeing her brother at the airport. The newly arrived guests later went to their family grave-yards in Skardu and offered prayers for the souls of their near and dear ones.

It is pertinent that a large number of families are living as refugees in Skardu and adjacent areas for many decades after being evicted from their villages located along the border in 1971 and later during the Kargil war. They demand opening of the Kargil-Skardu road and have also held protest demonstrations in Skardu in this connection.

Recently, leaders of various political groups, including the Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah, who is also the president of PPP Gilgit-Baltistan, have also demanded opening of the Kargil-Skardu road which can help increase cross-border trade and also help the divided families to interact more.

It is pertinent that similar reunions have also taken place in the past, including one in 2008 when  a brother had reached Skardu from the occupied area to meet his sister after. They had been separated for almost 37 years.

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