Amritsar: It was a wish of Ghulam Muhammad alias Gamma (75), a Pakistani national to visit his native village, Kaunke (India) , near Attari border . However, it took him 60 years and three months to traverse only 8 km !
Despite debilities of advancing age, Ghulam Mohammad had to visit Islamabad many times to secure visa so that he could visit his birth-place in India. He belongs to poor section of society, yet his sons collected enough money to ensure their father visited Kaunke. Today, he went back to Pakistan , satisfied after meeting his childhood friends. “ Now, I can die in peace” , said Gamma with tears in eyes .He still considers his village, Manawan in Lahore district a “second home” . Both Kaunke and Manawan, divided by Radcliffe Line are situated at distance of eight kilometres.
He was only 16 when he was taken to newly created country, Pakistan, by his parents. He is still indebted to the able-bodied Sikh peasants of Attari and its adjoining areas who helped his grandparents and other family members to cross over to Pakistan by providing them protection.
The Partition changed that all. The trauma of the forced dislocation, depicting human tragedy of great magnitude has not been forgotten by him. He could also recall the trauma of Partition how people were totally dehumanised by mass frenzy to a level that reduced them either to helplessness or unreasoned rage.
Ghulam Mohammad who was given warm welcome by the residents of Kaunke said his children had apprehension that there won’t be anybody who would recogise him . However, he was delighted and thrilled to meet his childhood friends who gave him love and sweets and gifts on his return to Pakistan . He was glad to see overall development of his birthplace because there were only 30 few scattered houses in the village at the time of Partition.
Ghamma , however, rued he had got visa for 15 days only . However, he promised to visit his village again with his children next year . Village sarpanch Balwinder Singh , his old friends Mohan Singh , Mohinder Singh, Raghbir Singh and Anup Singh refreshed old memories with Ghama.
After meeting Ghama, his Indian Sikh friends said the Partition had failed to divide people of both countries who still want to meet each other by crossing all hurdles.