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A Cliché From Nawab Din's Story

By Zafar Choudhary

24 September, 2006
Countercurrents.org

After 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 land.

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 place.

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 choudhary.zafar@gmail.com

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