PoK natives in Doon reminisce old times & hardships
About three months ago Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had said that now talks would be held with Pakistan only on Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). Though many may have forgotten this, the refugees from PoK living in Dehradun still have vivid memories of their native land. In conversation with The Pioneer the refugees from PoK who settled in Dehradun years ago said that talks on the subject still reignites their longing for their ancestral land.
Manmohan Bali who now lives in Premnagar is one of the many who had to leave his home in 1948, a year after the partition. He says he still remembers that time as if it was yesterday. “There were rumours that Kashmiri Sikhs were planning an attack on Muzaffarabad. Few days later, we heard that Qabaili (tribals) were coming,” he says. Bali remembers how couple of days later some of his father’s Muslim friends came to their house to inform that they saw trucks carrying Qabailis. “There were hundreds of them and their main targets were Sikhs. They were torturing Hindus as well but they were not leaving a single Sikh alive,” he recalls. “We were eight Hindu families in our village in Muzaffarabad. When Qabailis attacked us, we all had to leave our homes. We lived in the main city for few months in anticipation that all of this would settle and we’ll be able to return to our village soon but one day we were all asked to sit in a train.” According to him, they came to Kurukshetra first and then later settled in Dehradun after living in various refugee camps. “I clearly remember how we had to wear gunny bags instead of clothes for months. From Kurukshetra we were moved to Chauraha camp in Uttar Pradesh. It was also a temporary setup hence we were later shifted to Yol camp in Himachal Pradesh,” he says.
Ram Kumari whose husband (now deceased) was also a refugee from PoK says, that she still gets goose bumps when she remembers the stories she had heard from him and her in-laws. “Women used to suffer the most. Qabailis used to capture any woman they liked. Many of them jumped into the river to escape capture,” she says. The Qabailis looted the minorities and set their houses and businesses on fire. They enslaved many Hindu and Sikh women, she said. “They captured one of our relative’s daughters. When no one came forward to help her, it was my father-in-law who went to free her with the help of the army,” she says.
She says she still remembers the incident when her husband was caught while helping a Sikh man conceal his identity by cutting his hair with sharp edged stones. “The Qabailis captured my husband; my father-in law pleaded them to let him go in exchange of all the gold and valuables he had.”
Another woman Neeru Chibber says that they were displaced twice because of the partition but hardly anyone cares about their plight. “We left our village in PoK and came to Kashmir. Later the situation there started to worsen too. The terrorists and the local extremists started threatening my father. They used to threaten him that they would abduct me and by sisters. We were living in constant fear when one day my father finally decided to evacuate. One night we hid in a truck and left for Jammu. This was the second time when we had to leave our house and business behind,” she says.
When asked if they would like to return to their homeland if the government becomes successful in reclaiming PoK, they say, that they would love to visit the place but not settle there. They feel that even if the government reclaims PoK, they will have to live in constant fear.
Wednesday, 27 November 2019 | Shreya Bali | Dehradun
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