River that divide nations, unites soul

Across the LoC

The fast-flowing Kishanganga river, about 192 km north of Srinagar, witnessed emotional scenes as people gathered on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) and exchanged messages with their kin on the opposite side.

The strict vigil of the army and paramilitary forces on both sides of the border and the deafening roar of the 300-metre wide river that separates India from Pakistan somewhat drowned the loud exchanges of wishes and family tidings, but persistent relatives wrote messages on a piece of paper, tied it to a stone and threw it to the other side.

Naseer Ahmad Wani was one of them who exchanged messages with his aunt.

Half an hour after he tossed the stone tied to a letter towards the other side of the LoC, Naseer was fighting back tears as he read his aunt’s response informing his uncle’s death in the Leepa Valley a few weeks ago.

“It is shocking news. Despite being so close, we don’t know about each other,” Wani, a school teacher, told Deccan Herald. “Even in the 21st century, there are no communication facilities available in Tanghdar Tehsil. There is no mobile phone or Internet facility in our area and the few landline numbers available for a population of more than 50,000 seldom work.”

For Mumtaz Begum, the news from the other side was a happy one.

Begum’s recently married niece broke the news of her pregnancy. The elated woman and her relatives danced on the banks of the majestic river, unable to contain their joy.

Relatives later had to stop the 55-year-old Begum from jumping into the river and reach the other side, as she was eager to exchange a few words with her young kinswoman.

Authorities allow people to gather at this point two Thursdays every month between April to November to get a glimpse of their family on the other side or exchange information, notwithstanding the natural and security barriers. A few hundred metres away, about 50 people who had been allowed to cross the border and meet their relatives in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir nervously await clearance from the other side.

Every alternate Thursday, 50 people from either side of the dividing line are allowed to cross over at Teetwal point to visit relatives. 


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