After 75 years, a Pakistani woman who was separated from her family during the 1947 Partition met her Indian brothers for the first time. Mumtaz Bibi, who was separated from her Sikh family during the turmoil, met her brothers Gurmukh Singh and Baldev Singh for the first time at the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan in April.
“We are so happy that we’ve been able to meet our sister in our lifetime,” Gurmukh Singh told BBC News. Their father Pala Singh had moved from Pakistan to the Patiala district of Punjab state in India after his wife was killed in Pakistan during the violence.
“When he came to know about his wife’s death, he assumed his daughter was also murdered, following which he married his sister-in-law,” said Baldev Singh, the younger of the two brothers. But in Pakistan, Mumtaz Bibi had been found by a Muslim couple who adopted and raised her. “About two years ago, our sons found out about our half-sister with the help of social media,” Baldev Singh said.
Mumtaz, who was searching for family, had spoken to Pakistani YouTuber Nasir Dhillon. His channel Punjab Lehar helped several families separated during the Partition find each other.
Wanting to confirm their connection, Gurmukh Singh contacted a shopkeeper at their ancestral village in Pakistan’s Sheikhupura district. “He connected us with Mumtaz,” he said
He admitted that the family was initially skeptical about her identity. “Could she be someone else? But we gradually connected the dots, got proof, and it was established that she is very much our sister,” he said. “Our happiness knew no bounds.”
‘Hugged each other and wept’
“After that, we just wanted to meet her at any cost. But there were visa issues,” Baldev Singh said. The Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara was one possible meeting point, and on 24 April, the brothers arrived with their family at the shrine. They finally met their sister who had also brought along her own family.
“We hugged each other and wept,” Baldev Singh recalled. “We just didn’t want to separate, so we promised each other that we will try to get visas as soon as possible. She has filed her papers and we expect that she will visit us soon.”
Mumtaz had been raised a Muslim. Gurmukh Singh said their family had accepted this by the time they met. “When we met, we forgot everything else,” he said. “So what if our sister is a Muslim?”
“The same blood flows through her veins. And that’s what matters to us more than anything else. It’s true that we have slightly different styles of living. They [in Pakistan] eat more meat while we eat less of it. But as Guru Nanak said ‘accept all humans as your equals’,” he stressed.
Since 1947, many tales of tragedy, love, separation, and unity have come to the fore. Thanks to the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor, many have reunited in the recent past. Two old friends from across the border reunited in Kartarpur a year ago.
With the help of social media and Facebook, a Bangladeshi man in his 80s also recently reunited with his nearly 100-year-old mother after about 70 years.
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