Indian woman wants visa regimes eased to facilitate people on both sides of border -

9 August, Tuesday

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Indian woman wants visa regimes eased to facilitate people on both sides of border

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The visit of the Indian nonagenarian to her ancestral three-storey home tucked away in the narrow alleys of the garrison city has opened a new chapter for the authorities to facilitate citizens of India and Pakistan on humanitarian grounds.
On Wednesday, Reena Varma, 90, from Pune, Maharashtra, finally fulfilled her family’s dream to visit the house that she left 75 years ago.
Her visit and related formalities were facilitated by the administrator of the Facebook page, ‘India Pakistan Heritage Club’ Imran William.
Mr William said the Indian authorities should reciprocate as more than 20 senior citizens from Pakistan wanted to visit their ancestral homes across the border.
“We work to highlight the shared heritage of both countries and reunite families separated by partition,” Mr William said, adding that, “we want to help people in getting permission to travel across the border.”
Talking to Dawn after her visit to the house which was built by her father – an employee of the Military Accounts in the British India Army – the teary-eyed Ms Varma said: “We had a radio and a gramophone in those days and I used to sing from the balcony of our house, especially when it rained.”
She urged both countries to ease their visa regimes to enable people from either sides to meet frequently.
“I would urge the new generation to work together and make things easy,” she said, adding that humanity was above everything and all religions taught humanity.
She said the only thing which made her sad was that no one from her family of eight was alive to share her joy.
“I am very happy to see that the house stood intact; even the fireplace is still in functioning condition,” she said, adding that, “during holidays in winters we used to burn wood for heating”.
Incidentally, for her age, Ms Varma not only recalled all details of the house but her life in Rawalpindi when she was merely 15 years old.
“We plan to visit Murree in the coming days – I remember we used to go there every summer,” she said.
Since her brother was in the British Army, the family moved to Pune after 1947 where he was posted, but the family did not take any property in claim against the Rawalpindi house.
“My mother always wanted to have this house, and she maintained that if we take any other house, our right to this house would be lost,” she said, adding that, “things have changed but the love and affection showered by the people of Pakistan will remain in my heart forever”.


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