This 15 August, A Kargil Village Will Celebrate 49 Years of Independence
Separated from their family, residents of Hunderman Brok long to meet their loved ones in Pakistan.
Camera, reportage and production: Anthony S Rozario
Creative Producer: Puneet Bhatia
"She cries a lot. But, what can we do in such situations? We don't get visas easily, how will we go from here?" says Mohammad Ali, as he sits next to his distraught wife, in the barren mountains of Ladakh's Kargil district.
Ali's wife Fatima has been longing to meet her only surviving sister in Pakistan, who she last saw in 1971, just before the Indian Army took possession of Hunderman Brok from Pakistan.
Running above the very mountains of Hunderman is the line of control (LOC) that separates the village from the neighbouring Brolmo village, which has remained with Pakistan.
But life in Hunderman Brok wasn't always marked by tales of separation. From the time of independence in 1947 to the war of 1971, the village was under the rule of Pakistan and its residents would frequently visit their relatives in neighbouring settlements like Brolmo.
The onslaught of the 1971 war, however, meant that family members who were on either side of the present-day LOC, could no longer see or meet each other.
The Overnight Border
In the winter of 1971, Fatima's two younger sisters along with her brother had gone over to their paternal uncle's residence in Brolmo village for a festival, when news came in that Hunderman was no longer a part of Pakistan.
And just like that, Fatima was separated from her siblings and an extended family that suddenly became citizens of an enemy country.
"Her maternal uncle took her two younger sisters and a brother to Brelman. On one night in 1971, there was a fight between two nations. While three of her siblings were trapped in Pakistan, she and her elder brother remained in India."Mohammad Ali, Fatima's uncle.
Almost 50 years after being separated, the only object of hope Fatima prizes is a ring that her maternal uncle in Pakistan had sent her a couple of years back.
"I only want to meet them once before I die," she says, looking at the ring that she guards with her life.
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