Two real brothers, who grew up in India and Pakistan sides of Punjab, and got to see each other after 74 years at Kartarpur recently are now pleading for visas so that they can spend more time together at the fag end of their lives. Siqa Khan, now 76, and Saddique Khan (80) got separated during the Partition in 1947. Saddique, his father and sister crossed over and settled in Faislabad of Pakistan, while Siqa, who was named ‘Habib’ at birth, and his mother got stuck in India.

Behind the emotional reunion was the efforts of a Pakistan-based journalist Nasir Dhillon and medical practitioner Jagsir Singh from Phulewala village of Bathinda district, where Siqa grew up.

“My native village was Jagroan De Kothe, falling under today’s Jagraon town in Ludhiana district. I was at my maternal uncle’s village Phulewala with my mother when the Partition violence erupted. My brother, along with my father and sister, migrated to Pakistan, but I and my mother got stuck at Phulewala,” says Siqa.

The tragedy of separation didn’t end there for Siqa. “My mother could not bear the shock of separation from family members. She was mentally upset and committed suicide by jumping into a canal, leaving me orphaned. My maternal uncles and villagers looked after me,” he adds.

The villagers said Siqa did not marry and worked as a labourer for a living. Currently, he lives with the children and grandchildren of his maternal uncles.

Saddique lives at Bogran village in Faislabad district of Pakistan.

Making of the reunion

Jagsir, who played a key role in facilitating the reunion, said, “Siqa comes from the Gujjar community and he was told by his maternal uncles that his brother and other relatives migrated to Pakistan. He asked us to trace his brother, but nobody has a clue how to do that. He also showed us photos of his family members, including that of his brother. In the meantime, my sister-in-law’s husband, whose family also has a link with a village now in Pakistan, shared a video with me in which Dhillon was interviewing an elderly man who was naming our village and narrating how his brother got separated from the family during the Partition.”

“When I watched the video, I found a facial resemblance between Siqa and the elderly man in the video. I called up Dhillon and told him about Siqa. He facilitated a video call between both the brothers in April 2019. Since then he was in touch with his brother and nephews. After that, we started efforts to arrange a meeting but the Covid-19 restrictions came as a hurdle. Finally, it happened at Kartarpur.”

Dhillon, along with a fellow journalist Lovely Singh, did that interview of Saddique. They run a web channel focusing on memories of the Partition. “We got emotional during the interview as he she expressed deep longing to see his brother. And, God listened to him,” says Dhillon.

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