Youth participation in sharing stories of forced migration across the LoC

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Mazhar Iqbal // Social media across the Line-of-Control (LoC) is bursting with moving stories of forced migration in 1947. It is a historic time to witness how youth movements take control of social, political and cultural change. We are in the middle of an era of a natural, uncontrollable, amateurish and grassroot outburst of stories and folklore drawn from pre-partition social and cultural life in areas formerly known as Poonch region of Jammu and Kashmir. snow covered mountain during sunrise

The barriers of mistrust, division, and hatred put in place during the last 70 years of control of Hindu and Muslim population have started receding in front of a revolutionary use of social media. There has been a recent proliferation of videos, images, posts, and messages of social media users from across the Line-of-Control (LoC). A highly energetic expression of a sudden outpouring of emotions, sorrows, memories, dreams, pledges, and fantasies is stepping over the traditional physical, psychological and political boundaries.

This is exactly what art and literature should do in an environment of control, subjugation, pre-emption, and predicament. It becomes increasingly difficult to get a grasp on real issues of a society which is divisive in many ways. One cannot differentiate between fact and fantasy where the narration takes twists. And it is particularly hard to pin down right and wrong if twisted narratives are in affluence with regard to the political situation in a conflict zone.

So, in order to get an insider look into peoples’ mind, we need to take a historian’s approach. A historian does not ask questions, yet, history itself answers the questions but at a later stage. While the history is being created, you may not find the answers to many questions. For instance, we may ask why and how Kashmir has been and continues to be a simmering issue, for the sake of historical analysis.

Traditionally historians, researchers, and scholars put their efforts to portray the life of society. Yet, it is possible only when the situation allows them to do so.  In this backdrop, it is the present, which is seen as a continuation of history. So, the present shaping of a social movement in Poonch region can be seen in social media. The social media users in areas adjacent to the Line-of-Control are presently engaged in an amateurish, yet, highly effective discourse on forced migration.

Roomi Sharma, a Jammu based social activist is enthusiastically trying to reunite families of former Poonch region that divided in 1947.  Javed Iqbal is one of those thousands of fans who think she is doing a marvelous job by reuniting the people. She is promoting culture, language, and history. It is a positive step in the right direction for uniting the communities. Her work and motivation is highly appreciated across the border.  Javed further describes that Poonchi or Pahari language and culture need to be preserved and pass on to future generations.

The enthusiastic members of Sharma’s Poonch Parivar community page regularly interact and participate in the discussion from both sides of the LoC. It is an important, engaging and commendable initiative run by social media activists. It is meant to bridge the gap created by decades of confusion, division, and oppression. Matloob Ahmed describes it a really great effort put in by Ms. Sharma to restore the contacts of missing and divided families on both sides of the LoC.

Jamil Maqsood, of UKPNP, describes that she is in quest and search of her roots. Manoj Kumar from Indian side of the divide describes that she is doing an amazing job to reunite the Poonchi community.

Kiran Sharma, shared a video of Savitri who is originally from Mutialmera in Rawalakot, Poonch. She relates how her father had been trying to resume contacts with the people left behind in his native village.  Kiran is desperately looking into prospects of getting in touch with the family of Savitri back in Rawalakot .

Ilyas Khalid runs a similar initiative on Facebook with his own name. His community page is dedicated to sharing the stories of post-partition and pre-partition cultural trends.

(To be continued).

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