News APP

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  gplay  » News » Visitors from PoK visit Hazratbal

Visitors from PoK visit Hazratbal

By A M Sofi in Srinagar
April 08, 2005 20:23 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

Visiting the Valley after nearly six decades, 30 visitors from Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, who arrived on Thursday by the inaugural Muzaffarabad-Srinagar bus, paid obeisance at the Hazratbal shrine in Srinagar on Friday.

After spending the night at Centaur Hotel as Jammu and Kashmir government's guests, the visitors went in batches to the Hazratbal shrine, which houses the holy relic of Prophet Mohammed.

While some of them were later escorted by their relatives to Jammu, Baramulla, Uri, Salamabad and Lagma, those visiting their near and dear ones in Srinagar stayed back at the shrine and participated in Friday prayers.

Also see: PoK visitors get rousing reception in Srinagar

A grand reception was organised at the house of Ali Mohammad Rantoo at Jamalatta in downtown Srinagar for his nephew and niece visiting their ancestral house after 57 years.

When Farida Ghani and Mehboob Ghani, who hail from Rawalpindi, reached the house, the residents of the area showered flowers and sheerni (small pieces of sweets) on them.

It took them more than 45 minutes to cover a distance of 20 metres from the main road to the house, which had been freshly painted.

Everyone in the crowd wanted to garland them and shake hands.

Also see: Indian passengers cross over to PoK

Mehboob, a writer, welcomed the decision to reopen the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road. "It is a good step to allow people to meet and there should be no barriers. I was wanting to meet my first cousins in Srinagar from the last 35 years but in the absence of visa could not do so. I availed the first opportunity and boarded the first bus," he said.

Asked whether he was scared after militant threats to disrupt the bus service, Mehboob said people should not pay heed to the threats held out by militants. "They (militants) should be prosecuted and handed over to police," he said.

Fareeda, however, said opening the road can't be a solution to the Kashmir issue. "Governments of India and Pakistan should take concrete steps to resolve the issue once and for all so that people can live in peace. We have come here to meet our sisters and brothers but we will not forget the Kashmir issue which needs to be resolved," she added.

The house adjacent to the one Farida and Mehboob were visiting was also freshly painted. Its owner Ghulam Nabi is expecting relatives from PoK in the second bus scheduled to arrive on April 22.

At Altaf Syed Bhat's house at Buchpora on the outskirts of Srinagar, the entire family burst into tears when Altaf's elder brother Irshad Ahmed Bhat entered the house after 45 years.

Bhat said he wanted to stay in the house for the next 14 days to take control of the arrangements for a marriage ceremony.

The marriage of his nephew has been advanced by 15 days to enable him to participate. "I want to do my bit in making the arrangements," Bhat said.

He said his daughter based in the US had advised him against taking the bus after the militant threats. "I paid no heed to the threats and availed the opportunity to visit my homeland," he said.          


Get Rediff News in your Inbox:
A M Sofi in Srinagar