Cliché From Nawab Din's Story
By Zafar Choudhary
24 September, 2006
living a life for ten decades the centurions are normally expected to
wait for the eternal journey, but in case of Nawab Din who has lived
little more than that an aspiration is still coupled with a struggle.
And interestingly his struggle has a loud message for the peaceniks
and diplomatic mandarins of New Delhi and Islamabad who have been finding
models for conflict resolution, friendship between India and Pakistan
and a lasting peace in Jammu and Kashmir .
Nawab Din was born in 1899
in Budhal area of Rajouri district –around 200 kilometers from
Jammu, the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir . At the age of 66, he
had to cross over to Pakistan administered Kashmir when India and Pakistan
were engaged in a bloody battle over this state. For last 40 years,
Nawab Din has lived in somewhere near Mirpur in Pakistan administered
Kashmir and each day longed to be back to his native place even though
over a period of these four decades he developed a home, a kinship became
a part of the social fabric at that place.
Today at the age of 107,
the aging but exceptionally agile Nawab Din is literally fighting a
lonely battle to achieve what the celebrated poet and last emperor of
the Mughal dynasty in India Bahadur Shah Zafar could not. After he was
dethroned and exiled to Yangoon in 1857, the last Mughal emperor and
poet before his death on November 7, 1862 had said, kitna badnaseeb
tha Zafar, waqt-e-marg do ghaz jageh na mili apne ku-e-yaar mein which
is translated as –how miserable was Zafar that at the time of
death he could not get even two yards of land for burial in the beloved
At the age of 107 years,
unlike Bahadur Shah Zafar, Nawab Din is refusing to surrender. He is
struggling for those two yards of land for the eternal rest in his birth
On August 14 this year –the
eve of Pakistani Independence Day, Nawab Din traveled to his birth place
Rajouri through trans-Line of Control Poonch Rawalakote bus service
and had a permission to stay there for next 15 days. However, on August
28, when the batch was returning the local administration authorities
at Chakan-da-Bagh –the LoC transit point thrown open for transportation
and meeting of divided families between two divided parts of Jammu and
Kashmir since June 19 –found one passenger missing. On verification
of permits and travel record it was learnt that 107 years old Nawab
Din had not turned up for his journey back "home" after the
15 days stipulated time.
The Poonch administration
alerted their counterparts in Rajouri district and subsequently a Police
party traced Nawab Din in the remote village of Budhal in this district.
He refused to accompany the Police but was forcibly taken to the district
headquarters. Once traced, the administration decided to "push
him back" along with the next batch due to return to Rawalakote
in Pakistan administered Kashmir by second week of September. What came
in as a serious headache for the administration was Nawab Din's straight
refusal to leave his birth place. He is making just one wish: "I
am too old to bring any harm to this place. What I want you people is
to help me realize a wish I have been nursing for 40 years. I want to
die at this place".
Though at the risk of a diplomatic
row, the Centurion was granted a time of another 15 days on humanitarian
grounds. The local administration again found itself in trouble when
Nawab Din yet again refused to board the trans-LoC bus on September
11. After several local people met the District collector –the
permit officer for such passengers –and the matter was taken up
with higher authorities in the government, Nawab Din got a lease of
wish for another 15 days. Now since his thrice extended permission for
stay is coming to an end on September 26, the Centurion has an idea
that district administration would not be able to get more humanitarian
with him beyond that date. Refusing to surrender his wish and accept
the boundaries that divide people against their wishes, Nawab Din has
now approached the Jammu and Kashmir High Court for judicial intervention
to see that he is allowed to live at his birth place till he dies there.
A dividend of Indo-Pak CBM
through trans-LoC bus service, Nawab Din's story suggests a solution
for animosity between both countries over Jammu and Kashmir. The adamant
Centurion's struggle has a message for blurring of the boundaries and
allowing people to explore their roots.
Finally, though for a while
till the government of India reacts, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court
has offered some solace as well as encouragement to the hopes of Nawab
Din. The Court has asked central and state government to file their
objection as why this centurion is not allowed to live as per his wishes.
In a writ petition filed
by Nawab Din, seeking direction to respondents to allow him to reside
in his native Village at Rajouri, Justice JP Singh of J&K High has
issued notice to Jammu and Kashmir government and the Union of India
to give an opinion on this case and not to deport the elder till the
court takes a final decision.
Author is Resident Editor of English daily Kashmir Images, Jammu edition
and Executive Director Center for Media Research and Documentation.
He can be reached at email@example.com