Friday, February 23, 2024

Indian who met Pakistani brother at Kartarpur after 74 years gets Pakistan visa

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The Indian man who had an emotional reunion with his Pakistani brother after 74 years during a visit to Kartarpur gurdwara was on Friday granted a visa by Pakistan to meet his relatives across the border.

Sika Khan was a toddler when he was separated from his elder brother Muhammed Siddique and other family members at the time of the partition of the subcontinent into India and Pakistan in 1947. The two brothers established contact with each other through a video call in 2019 because of the efforts of a popular Pakistan-based YouTube channel, Punjabi Lehar, which highlighted their story.

Earlier this month, the same YouTube channel facilitated a meeting between the brothers during a visit to the Kartarpur Gurdwara in Pakistan’s Punjab province. Indian nationals are able to visit the Sikh shrine without visas by travelling through a special cross-border corridor.

A video of the two brothers embracing while fighting back tears caused waves on both sides of the border. It was at this meeting that Khan, who lives in Phulewala village at Bathinda in India’s Punjab state, learnt he had been christened Habib Khan at the time of his birth

On Friday, the Pakistan high commission in New Delhi granted Khan a visa to visit his brother and other family members across the border.

“The story of the two brothers is a powerful illustration of how the historic opening of the visa-free Kartarpur Sahib Corridor in November 2019 by Pakistan is bringing people closer to each other,” the high commission said in a tweet along with a photo of a beaming Khan.

Sika Khan met Pakistani chargé d’affaires Aftab Hasan Khan and other officers of the high commission and thanked them for their cooperation.

Punjabi Lehar, which is run by Nasir Dhillon and Lovely Singh, focuses on reuniting families from the two sides of Punjab that were separated at the time of Partition, which resulted in the migration of almost 12 million people – more than 6.5 million from the Indian side and nearly five million from the Pakistani side.

Dhillon and Singh learnt about Siddique and his long-lost brother during visit to Bogran village near Faisalabad in Pakistani Punjab in 2019.

“Punjabi Lehar is endeavouring to bridge a gap between the people of East and West Punjab, created by the partition of 1947,” says a message on the channel’s YouTube page.

“Most of the people have passed away with an unfulfilled ardent desire in their heart to see their birthplace and meet their childhood friends. Punjabi Lehar is attempting to fulfil the desire of remaining Partition-era Punjabis, who will be gone in the next five to seven years.”Indian who met Pakistani brother at Kartarpur after 74 years gets Pakistan visa

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