Independence Day 2022: In a moving reunion, a 92-year-old man from India's Punjab met his nephew from Pakistan at the historic Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib on Monday, 75 years after they were separated at the time of Partition in which many of their relatives were killed in communal violence.
Sarwan Singh hugged his brother's son Mohan Singh, now known as Abdul Khaliq after being brought up in a Muslim family in Pakistan, at the historic Gurdwara in Narowal, some 130 km from Lahore and the final resting place of Sikhism's founder Guru Nanak Dev. Some members of both families were also present on the occasion.
“Khaliq sahib touched the feet of his uncle and hugged him for several minutes,” Muhammad Naeem, a relative of Khaliq, told PTI over the phone on his return from the Kartarpur Corridor. He said both uncle and nephew spent four hours together and shared memories and ways of living in their respective countries. Both Singh and Khaliq were clad in white kurta pajamas with the former donning a black turban and the latter a white one.
Upon their reunion, the relatives garlanded them and also showered rose petals on them. “We can’t explain our feelings in words but it is the blessing of God that we reunited after 75 years,” Khaliq’s relative Javed quoted them as having said. He said Singh may come to Pakistan after getting a visa to stay with his nephew for a longer period. Two YouTubers from India and Pakistan played a role in helping the two reconnect after 75 years.
At the time of Partition, Mohan, who now has a new identity, having a Muslim name (Khaliq), after being raised by a Muslim family in Pakistan, was about six years old, said Parvinder from Jalandhar in India. A Jandiala-based YouTuber had documented several Partition stories and a few months ago he met Sarwan and posted a video of his life story on his YouTube channel.
Across the border, a Pakistani YouTuber narrated the story of Khaliq who was separated from his family at the time of Partition. Incidentally, a Punjab-origin man based in Australia saw the two videos and helped the relatives connect. In one of the videos, Sarwan mentioned the identity marks of his missing nephew, saying he had two thumbs on one hand and a prominent mole on one of his thighs.
On the other hand, in the video posted by the Pakistani YouTuber similar things were shared about Khaliq, said Parvinder. Later, the Australia-based man managed to get in touch with both families on either side of the border. The grandfather identified Khaliq with his identity marks, said Parvinder.
Sarwan's family used to live in village Chak 37, now in Pakistan, and 22 members of his extended family were killed in communal violence at the time of Partition. Sarwan and other family members managed to cross over to India but Khaliq, who escaped the violence, was later raised by a Muslim family in Pakistan.
Sarwan, who was living in Canada with his son, has been staying at village Sandhman near Jalandhar at his daughter's home since the COVID-19 pandemic struck. In November 2019, former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan formally inaugurated the Kartarpur Corridor as part of the commemoration of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak at a colourful ceremony, paving the way for Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit one of their religion’s holiest sites in Pakistan without needing a visa.
Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara is located in Pakistan's Narowal district across the river Ravi, about four kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab's Gurdaspur district. It is the final resting place of the Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev, who had spent the last 18 years of his life in Kartarpur.
Indian pilgrims of all faiths are allowed to undertake round-the-year visa-free travel to the historic gurdwara.