Death forever separates cross-border brothers who had reunited after 74 years

photo courtesy: Nasir Dhillon

Sapan News A year-and-a-half after their first meeting in 74 years, death has forever separated two brothers living less than 140 miles from each other across an intractable border cutting through the Punjab region that straddles Pakistan and India.

Separated during the chaos and violence of the Partition and Independence of India in 1947, Sika Khan, then a baby, was left behind with his mother in Bathinda, India. His father and older brother Mohammad Siddique, then 6 years old, went across to Faisalabad, Pakistan. After the death of his mother, Sika was brought up by a Sikh family. He never married.

The brothers were reunited on 10 January 2022 at the visa-free Kartarpur Corridor, thanks to the efforts of Pakistani YouTuber Nasir Dhillon.

After videos of the emotional reunion went viral, the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi issued Sika Khan a visa. He visited Siddique a couple of months later, slightly delayed due to the Covid-19 restrictions and spent time with his Pakistani relatives. His older brother subsequently visited him too.

Sika Khan now has to again go to Delhi for a visa “to cross the Radcliffe Line to be with the family of his deceased brother to share grief,” writes Neel Kamal in the Times of India. Sika Khan has since received the visa, Kamal informs Sapan News.

Why does it have to be this hard? Why can’t he just cross over without a visa like the French and Germans do in the European Union?

“No matter how strained relations between both countries get, they must retain a humanitarian point of view which entails allowing a separate category of visas for individuals over a certain age who want to re-unite their families”, writes Tridivesh Singh Maini (Let people meet – before it’s too late, Sapan News).

In 2012, India and Pakistan agreed to allow visa-on-arrival for senior citizens with roots in both countries.

However, this has rarely been implemented.

Sign the petition urging governments to ease visa restrictions – #MilneDo!

— Sapan News Network

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